Coping with Job Burnout: How to Thrive Amidst ChaosJul 25, 2021
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, and you're tired ALL the time (you were tired before, but now you're REALLY exhausted—you are not alone.
Maybe it’s the stressful and uncertain work environment or the sudden blend of work and home life. No matter what, 2021 has left us grappling with a different type of job burnout.
We're seeing this new form of burnout increasing for our coaching clients, and it doesn’t help that many of us feel like we can't get away.
Understanding Job Burnout
Burnout is described as physical or emotional exhaustion and depletion of strength, “usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration” (Merriam-Webster). Sound like you?
The term was originally coined to describe the severe stress in “helping” professions such as first responders, doctors, and nurses.
But you’re well aware that burnout goes beyond just those caregiving professions, right?
“The workplace today is not what it used to be several decades ago”, explains Dr. Christina Maslach, researcher and professor of psychology (Emerita) at the University of California Berkeley.
In a presentation during a recent DevOps Enterprise Summit, Dr. Christina Maslach elaborates on some of these changes:
- Multiple part-time jobs, rather than full-time
- Less concern and commitment for employees
- More destructive competition
- Feeling of loss related to the “common good” as a core value
Add to that the recent pandemic, and it’s no wonder why many are coping with job burnout!
So, What Are the Signs of Job Burnout?
According to Dr. Maslach’s study, there are 3 major signs of burnout to look out for:
- Feeling overwhelmed and emotionally and physically unwell. Can’t sleep? Constantly fighting sicknesses like head colds?
- Detachment or feeling alienated by colleagues and bosses. Maybe you feel ostracized or underappreciated?
- Thoughts related to ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Other signs and emotional symptoms can include:
- Lowered immunity
- Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
- Having little interest in work
- The increasingly cynical and negative outlook
While burnout symptoms vary by individual, learn to recognize the warning signs. The following is a real-life example from one of our clients of what that experience looked like for her. Note: name has been changed for confidentiality.
Kimberly, a long-time manager at a manufacturing company, found herself in the new “essential worker” role when the world paused for COVID. The company furloughed over a third of its employees, which left those still employed with additional responsibilities and pressures. It left many, like Kimberly, with little time or energy for anything else. While Kimberly was one of the “lucky” ones still employed, it wasn’t long before the mental and physical exhaustion set in. Then came the overwhelm and underperforming, which eventually led to resentment against management and her job responsibilities.
What Kimberly was experiencing was burnout of her current situation, not of her job itself.
Coping with Job Burnout: 3 Tips to Help You Cope and Recover
Burnout Tip #1: Pause, Reset, and Renew
A good public speaker knows to pause during speeches. A pause is a versatile tool that indicates a change of topic and emphasizes a powerful statement.
Similarly, a pause can be a powerful tool when coping with job burnout. If you are noticing an inability to “switch off”, or the feeling of overwhelm is becoming more and more a part of your daily life, it may be time to—PAUSE.
Whether it’s a 15-minute pause during the day or a 2-month pause away from work, pauses are powerful. Think of pausing and resetting as a way of refilling your fuel tank. Take a walk outside, meditate, and carve out some time to examine your priorities.
Burnout Tip #2: Align with Your Core Values and Set Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries protects your emotional and physical energy. Think of them as the guidepost for your thoughts and actions, aligning you to what matters most. When you're not aligned with your values, you’re probably overworking yourself with things that aren’t important to you.
By identifying your values and setting boundaries, you learn to detect the subtle thoughts about what matters in your work and home life so you can schedule and execute those things first. When you commit to doing what makes you happy and fulfilled, burnout rarely stands a chance.
Need to reassess your core values? We are here to help you clarify what matters to you so you can live a more happy and fulfilling life, both at work and at home. Setting boundaries is key when dealing with job burnout.
Burnout Tip #3: Seek Professional Guidance
Although Kimberly had always felt fulfilled and happy with her job and employer, she was ready to leave it all behind. It was in her coaching sessions where she recognized that her “burnout” was caused by the current climate and situation—NOT with her company.
Seeking guidance and advice from a professional career expert will help you break things down into manageable steps. They can guide you through identifying your highest potential, strengths, and action items for a more fulfilling career.
Similarly, if the symptoms of burnout are persistent, seeking professional mental support can help address deeper psychological causes. Inquire about Employee Assistance Programs through your employer. A trained mental health professional can help guide you through the necessary process through a mental wellness lens.
You Are Not Alone - Burnout is Normal
Remember, you don’t need to handle this alone. We ALL have experienced some form of burnout, and we’re here to give you the tools to manage it.
If you’ve had your own journey with burnout or if you’re currently struggling with it, we would love to hear from you. Join the conversation over on Facebook or LinkedIn and share your story. We would love to hear what tips and strategies work for you!
If you think you may be experiencing job burnout or if you're ready to take the next step in your career, we are here to provide the support you need.
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