Have you been feeling drained? Lacking the motivation and enthusiasm you once had for your job? Have you noticed yourself procrastinating more excessively than you ever have? These might be signs of burnout setting in.
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged, repeated stress. It is a “syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Burnout generally consists of three dimensions, including feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job, and reduced professional efficacy.” Sense of dread about work, feelings of cynicism, anger, or irritability are key signs of burnout, when work conflicts with the sense of self.
It’s easy to let hustle culture overwhelm you, to try doing too much too fast and end up feeling burnt out. Here are some things to do to overcome burnout and maintain healthy standards for yourself in a work setting:
Stop responding to messages straight away. Don’t respond to work calls after a certain time. Emails can wait until you are able to actually respond to them with an answer that will help move the issue forward instead of further stalling it. Instant responses do not have to be the norm. Allowing yourself time and setting basic boundaries gives you the space to take back control of your time and energy.
Prioritise taking breaks
Having intentional downtime is important for the mind and body to rest. Stop working through lunch. If you feel yourself being unable to focus, take a break where you do something completely different. If you’re overstimulated allow yourself to temporarily remove yourself from that situation. Taking breaks is not a weakness, in fact it will be the key to finding strength in the long run.
Acknowledge and respect your bandwidth
Be realistic with the amount of work and responsibilities you can take on and do not accept more than that. Saying “no”, or “maybe later” can be difficult, but reclaiming the power to control your workload and schedule will help you sustain your energy at work for longer. Knowing your limit is key to avoiding the onset of burnout; or worse, a burnout relapse.
Avoid toxic and unnecessary competition
Whether you are competing with a past version of yourself or with someone at work who doesn’t seem like too nice of a person to begin with; stop viewing things as a never-ending race. Entering into competitions that no one agreed to in the first place put an increased amount of pressure to succeed at self-imposed, unrealistic goals; hence why so many individuals classified as “overachievers” suffer from burnout. Instead take tasks one at a time and focus on completing your assignments without getting too ahead of yourself.
Consider getting therapy
Burnout does not come from nowhere, there are usually underlying issues that bubble to the surface in addition to external pressures; and these can reemerge even after you are back in the swing of things. Getting therapy, or some sort of professional psychological help to come up with coping mechanisms and tools to deal with stressors and any other personal problems is immensely important for your health and your professional life.
The first step to avoid burnout is to recognise it and take action once you feel it coming on. And if you weren’t able to do that before, there are still steps you can and should take to prevent it and deal with stressors preemptively.