How to Deal with Job Burnout
Burnout has become a very common term in every worker's vocabulary. Everyone experiences burnout in this day and age, and burnout rates have skyrocketed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. All of that raises the question: how do you deal with job burnout?
Here are a few tips for dealing with job burnout:
- Find variation in your work. Not everyone has the same work style, and people work differently. They say that a change is as good as a rest.
- Manage your time better. Figure out strategies to not procrastinate at work. Get your tasks done on time so that you can use your time away from work on other things. Only work when it is time to work — try not to let it occupy your mind too much at other times.
- Journal or meditate. Spend time reflecting on your day and your goals. Cultivate a meditative mindset by using the right meditation technique to practice entering a no-mind state. Give yourself a break from your mind.
- Prevent burnout rather than overcome it. Talk to supervisors when you start to feel the signs of burnout. Prevention is always better than a cure.
- Focus on your health. A good diet, adequate exercise, and restful sleep go a long way towards preventing burnout. Your body is a machine that needs to be maintained. Too much wear and tear without any repair is a recipe for a breakdown.
- Recognize your cause of burnout. That will be an individual exploration that Healthy Gamer Coaching can help with.
- Engage in self-care regularly. Take time away from work to give to your passions and hobbies. If you don't have those, you may value work too much.
- Make time in the week for family and friends. Relationships are an investment, and time is your currency. You can prevent some burnout by spending more time with people unrelated to work.
- Seek support. Find local or online support groups for burnout if it is something that regularly plagues you.
A cookie-cutter list of tips may not be able to help you overcome burnout. To do that, we need to explore burnout, the signs of burnout, what causes burnout, dealing with burnout, and preventing burnout in the first place. We go over all of these in the rest of the article, so we encourage you to keep reading.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by too much stress over a long period of time. Burnout can have adverse outcomes on the body as well as the mind. It often manifests as emotional numbness, cynicism, irritability, and overinvestment in work.
There is a common misconception that burnout only happens in the workplace. However, it can also occur at school and caregiving relationships such as familial ones, friendships, and even romantic relationships.
You don't burn out on your job overnight. It happens as a result of continuous and prolonged exposure to stress. You start by ignoring the minor stresses until they pile up. Not addressing these stresses over time causes them to accumulate, resulting in the development of burnout.
Signs of Burnout
Some of the common signs of burnout are:
- Procrastination and taking excessive time to complete tasks
- Cynicism and pessimism
- Emotional fatigue
- Deterioration of other relationships
- Lack of energy and feeling exhausted all the time.
- Low motivation towards tasks
- Low immunity, frequent illnesses.
- Change in sleep and appetite.
- Lack of fulfillment and sense of accomplishment.
- Use of coping mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, food, video games, etc.
- A sense of helplessness.
Causes of Burnout
Burnout can occur due to several reasons. Some of the most common ones are:
- Feeling overworked.
- Lack of control over your work.
- A high-pressure environment.
- An unchallenging environment.
- Unclear expectations or direction.
- Unrealistic and overly demanding expectations.
While these causes of burnout are pretty common, many people don't realize that burnout is a systemic issue. It happens when a highly motivated and driven individual runs into a system that prevents them from doing their job. For example, if a doctor is highly driven to help patients, and they need to spend 3-4 hours on the phone dealing with insurance every day, they are very likely to burn out.
Moreover, certain environments and jobs also facilitate burnout because their employees do a lot more than their job description. They fall into the traps of overworking and perfectionism. Additionally, highly self-reliant individuals will find themselves running into burnout a lot more because they do not delegate work to other people or ask for help. They constantly find themselves overwhelmed and overworked from their responsibilities.
Has COVID increased burnout rates?
Additionally, COVID has exacerbated job burnout. Due to the COVID quarantine, most of the world has started working from home. As a result, the lines between work and home have become blurry. Due to this, people find themselves working late into the night, just because they can. The increased access to work in a home environment has made it harder for high-performance individuals to separate these two aspects of their life. As a result, they find themselves burning out.
A new survey of 1500 employees conducted by FlexJobs and Mental Health America found that 75% of respondents experienced burnout at work, with 40% saying that it was during the pandemic. That is mainly because 37% of employed respondents said they were working longer hours than usual.
Dealing with Job Burnout
Dealing with burnout is primarily an individual exploration. While you can find several blogs, websites, and gurus talking about the best way to overcome burnout, at the end of the day, overcoming burnout is about finding out what caused burnout in the first place. One of the biggest mistakes that human beings make is to question how to fix something, not how the problem arose in the first place.
You can try asking the following questions:
- What causes me stress at work?
- Am I overworked, under-challenged, or neither?
- How are my interpersonal relationships at work?
- Do I feel like I control my work environment?
- Do other people have realistic expectations of my work?
- Do I find my work fulfilling? Do I get a sense of accomplishment?
- Is my contribution valued?
- Am I being compensated enough for my work?
- Do I have a fixed work schedule, or are my work hours irregular?
- Do I get time away from work to focus on other hobbies?
- How do my friends and family feel about my work?
If you find that the answer to many of these questions is a negative one, then try to address it at work. If you feel that people have unrealistic expectations of what you need to achieve, it is good to talk about their expectations with them. Often, we find that these expectations don't come from other people; they come from ourselves.
Overcoming Job Burnout
Take a Break
Since job burnout is caused, among other things, by overinvestment and not being able to step back from your job, most of the standard solutions for burnout are about taking a break. People advise going on vacations and taking a break for a few weeks. While that is helpful if you've been overworking yourself with no breaks, it is not helpful if the cause of your burnout has been inadequate time management. Once you come back from the vacation, you will start to burn out again soon after.
Communicate With Your Supervisor
If the cause of your burnout stems from not being able to disconnect, ask yourself why. Are you being forced to work long hours? Are you given way too much work than what you can handle? If so, then the solution for you would be to have a conversation with your supervisor. Have an open-ended conversation. Start by sharing your concern, and ask them what they think about that. State how you feel clearly, and gauge their response. Is it concern? Is it apathy? Are they willing to work with you on a solution for that? The answer will determine the next steps for you.
Explore Feelings of Inadequacy
Some people are simply workaholics. They work because it gives them a sense of accomplishment and purpose. However, sometimes, people also work too much because they feel inadequate if they don't. This is also sometimes referred to as "toxic productivity". Over time, this can lead to burnout. If a sense of inadequacy drives your need to work, then that is a personal exploration. You can look for a mental health professional or sign up for Healthy Gamer Coaching to explore where this feeling comes from and how you can overcome it.
Other Solutions to Burnout
Other solutions are to:
- Engage in self-care regularly.
- Make time in the week with family and friends.
- Find variation in your work.
- Manage your time better.
- Journal or meditate.
Structuring Your Workday to Prevent Burnout
If you find yourself encountering friction in the way you work, then you might be using a style that is not suited to your unique cognitive fingerprint. It is easier for some people to work on one thing for 8 hours a day, while others prefer to do four things for 2 hours each. Some people start early in the morning and want to get done early, while others take time to ramp up and keep going later into the evening and night.
These variations in the mind were observed by ancient practitioners of the traditional Indian medicine called Ayurveda. They observed that we could group people's minds and bodies into three types: wind type (Vata), fire type (Pitta), and earth type (Kapha). They noticed that everyone shares qualities of these particular elements, and everyone can use this knowledge to structure their own life.
A predominantly wind type (Vata) person will have a mind that is somewhat ADHD. They will prefer jumping from one task to another and taking frequent breaks. While that makes them bad at performing one task for 8 hours a day, they excel at juggling four different things one after the other. People of a data type should start work early in the day, take frequent breaks, and focus on several different things. They should find a job that allows them to capitalize on their strengths.
A predominantly fire type (Pitta) person will have a mind that is focused and driven. Today's society is structured in favor of Pittas. They work well with a 9-5 structure. They find that focusing on one or two tasks for several hours a day works well for them. However, they are more at risk of burnout. If they work too much, it is like burning a candle on both ends. Their motivation and drive burn steady like a flame, which is why they are characterized as fire.
A predominantly earth type (Kapha) person will have a mind that has low acceleration but high top speed. They take time to get started in the morning, but they start to do their best work in the afternoon and evening. These people should focus on doing a few things at a time and not giving up out of a sense of inadequacy when they feel that they cannot keep up with fire types and wind types. Patience is vital for a Kapha.
You can figure out which of these apply to you by taking this quiz. We recommend answering the questions based on when you feel the most balanced/at your best.