How to Beat the Burnout Phase
Posted On June 20, 2023
Burnout refers to a syndrome caused by work stress that has not been managed well. If you have ever experienced fatigue, increased mental distance from your job, feelings of negativism related to your job, and/or reduced professional worth, then you have most likely experienced a burnout phase, according to the World Health Organization. Psychology Today’s guide to burnout states, “The cynicism, depression, and lethargy that are characteristic of burnout most often occur when a person is not in control of how a job is carried out, at work or at home, or is asked to complete tasks that conflict with their sense of self.” Burnout happens when someone feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues to build, the person may begin to lose the interest and motivation that led them to take on a certain role in the first place. “The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life,” notes HelpGuide.org.
The symptoms of burnout can vary. An individual might experience one or more of the following:
- Cynicism, especially about or at work
- Lacking the motivation or energy to be productive
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Lacking gratification from professional achievements
- High blood pressure
- Sleep issues
- Depressed mood
Burnout can take many forms. Melody Wilding explains the major types in Harvard Business Review: overload, under-challenged, and neglect. Overload burnout occurs when an individual has too much to do, thus causing them to work harder and often more frantically to achieve success, even if it is to the detriment of their health or personal life. Under-challenged burnout is caused by a lack of responsibilities or doing very little. It emerges when you are bored or unstimulated by your job, which often leads to a lack of motivation. Neglect burnout is when an individual feels hopeless as they face new challenges. Neglect burnout occurs when someone is not given enough “structure, direction, or guidance in the workplace.”
It is hard not to bring your work life into your personal life. We tend to talk about work with friends and family. We think about it over weekends when we plan for the week ahead. Our desires to be more organized and efficient lead many of us to bring work home. We forget to take breaks and time off, and we sometimes feel guilty about taking sick leave. Many of us are so dedicated to our jobs, we forget about ourselves.
Recognizing these symptoms is key, and burnout can be treated. Approach your human resources department or supervisor about problems you may be having—there is nothing wrong with asking for support. Potential ways to beat burnout include the following:
- Taking a vacation or time off to do something for yourself
- Learning how to separate work life from home life
- Exercising and eating healthy meals
- Spending time with friends and family
- Exploring relaxing hobbies such as dancing, swimming, or gardening
- Beginning a new role or task in your profession that you are proud of
Relieving burnout is about exploring new interests and letting yourself have a little downtime. This might be somewhat of a challenge for you, but as you become more comfortable with the idea of reserving time for yourself, you will be able to better manage other points of stress in your life, not just in your work life.
Amber Boedigheimer is the librarian for the Linn County Law Library in Albany, Oregon. It is a very small law library, serving about 600 patrons a year, and it is open to the public 4 days a week to provide legal information to patrons, including lawyers. The missions and goals of the library are to promote accessibility, ensure fairness within the justice system, and improve patron access to legal information. The library has a plethora of legal resources and offers patrons access to subscription databases, bar books, and other legal materials. Boedigheimer is a member of OCCLL (Oregon County Council of Law Libraries) and WestPac (Western Pacific Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries).
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