The economy might be improving, but the world of work seems to have changed forever. Ask any of your friends, family, and colleagues: if they’ve been lucky enough to stay employed through the lean years, they’re probably doing more with less than ever before. Time, money, and manpower are still in short supply in most offices. All of that adds up to one thing — burnout.
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“Burnout occurs when the demands and stress placed on us exceed our physical and mental abilities to deal with them,” writes Crew‘s Andrea Ayres-Deets at Medium. “We cheat ourselves out of the rest we need because we assume we can push past our breaking points. The bad news is, this is happening more frequently.”
The precise definition of burnout is hard to pin down, but Ayres-Deets references the work of psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, who coined the term in the 1970s to describe the physical and emotional symptoms of workers in caring professions. Roughly, burnout corresponds to feelings of exhaustion and alienation, and the reduced productivity that results.
So how can you beat burnout, once you’ve recognized it? With patience, and by trying the following things:
1. Say no.
This is the most important thing. In her post, Ayres-Deets says that her personal experience with burnout arrived after a period of saying yes to everything — mostly out of a fear that someone else would step in and say yes instead. That will be very familiar to anyone who’s gone above and beyond to try to hold onto a job in the last couple of years.
Say no, at least for a while, so that you can do the next thing on this list.
2. Take a rest.
If you can’t go away for a weekend and recharge, give yourself some real time off at home. That does not mean doing your job from your couch with the aid of your smartphone.
3. Be kind to yourself.
Resist the urge to beat yourself up for being human. Burnout is not a symptom of weakness, it’s a symptom of abused strength. You can’t do everything. No one can.
And speaking of not doing everything yourself, don’t try to: delegate instead. Use the resources available to you. Remind yourself that people appear stronger at work when they delegate than when they try to do everything themselves. Plus, you’ll be happier in your job, which will please your co-workers and boss and make their lives easier.
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