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Avoiding Burnout in the Workplace

It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you get, you’re still tired. It feels like there’s a perpetual fog in your brain, making any thought beyond the most basic, like “do I have to use the bathroom,” all but impossible. Nothing at work is going well, and you wonder why you’re even trying, if it’s all going to be terrible. When you actually do feel like eating, you don’t taste anything. It’s all you can do to keep going, get another day done, with another one looming ahead of you in the morning.

If any of this sounds like something describing how you felt in the last year, or ever, congratulations! You experienced burnout. Is it really something to be congratulated for, though?

What Causes Burnout?

Burnout is described as, “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.” Burnout was considered an official medical condition only in the last few years by the World Health Organization. It’s been a source of debate to decide exactly how to classify it for the last four decades. In addition, burnout hasn’t really been explored beyond healthcare workers, and others in the medical fields. But in the past year, everyone has experienced burnout to some degree.

Besides the causes associated with those in the medical fields, causes of burnout include the following:

Symptoms of Burnout

This last year has proven how harmful burnout is, and how destructive it is to the workplace. Employees experiencing burnout may be highly irritable, or prone to angry outbursts. We all get cranky sometimes, it’s true. But, if someone is constantly lashing out, or constantly on the verge of tears, there’s a much bigger problem than general crankiness.

Fatigue can set in as well. I started dozing off in my car during my commute on more than several occasions at a previous job. And this was while driving on an extremely busy highway. Nonstop exhaustion is hazardous not just for your health, but for those around you.

Ramifications of Burnout

Besides potentially crashing your vehicle into a guardrail, extreme ramifications of burnout can include substance misuse and abuse, high blood pressure, onset Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a lowered immune system.

I realized how burned out I was from a job when I went to the dentist for a checkup and discovered I had ground down my molars from clenching and grinding my teeth. My dentist called them “brontosaurus teeth.” And while I was overjoyed at being compared to a dinosaur, I was horrified upon learning that I had actually caused major physical damage to myself. I left that job shortly after that dentists appointment for one with a less stressful commute, and noticed that my jawline changed, because I wasn’t clenching my teeth quite so hard.

No situation is worth harming your health. If you’re too sick to work, what’s the point of putting yourself through all of that in the first place?

Avoid the Burn

There are some immediate steps you can take to help reduce burnout, and prevent it from happening. Some immediate steps you can take are to start practicing healthy ways to manage your stress. Keep in mind that these are only a few ways to manage burnout that I personally use. You can contact your healthcare provider for additional tips to manage and prevent burnout.

Allow Yourself to Rest

You may be tempted to ignore how you feel, push through, and try to Do It All. Look, you can do it all, it is possible. But it’s impossible to do it all at once. If you’re too burned out to effectively lead your team to success, it’s going to be just as difficult for them to succeed as well. This is one case where the trickle down effect does, in fact, happen. But by taking some time out of your day, and taking care of yourself, you can take better care of your team, which improves everyone’s chances for success.

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