Cooling Down to Avoid Job Burnout Part 1: Acknowledging the Warning Signs

Image courtesy of John Lambert Pearson's photostream

Image courtesy of John Lambert Pearson’s photostream

Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how much you love what you do – work will always have deadlines that need to be met and unforeseen challenges that will inevitably pop up to go with any other regular stressors that you can expect in your day-to-day activities. Over time, if you’re focusing too much on work, you’ll burn out – and burning out with your job could have costly consequences if left unchecked.

Here are a few signs to look for in your own behavior to determine if you are or are becoming burnt out:

•    Exhaustion – constant emotional, physical or mental exhaustion; feeling completely spent all the time

•    Lack of Motivation – Even with a mounting task list and high priority, must-do tasks, you feel disinterested in completing your tasks… even the simple ones

•    Cognitive Dissonance – According to Dr. Ballard, who is the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, when we’re stressed, our attention narrows to focus on the negative element that we perceive as a threat. This is healthy in the short term, but over time, this can lead to an inability to focus on anything other than the stressor if not eliminated for counteracted

•    Interpersonal Problems at Home and/or Work – This can play out in one of two ways; you have more conflicts than usual with those around you, or you withdraw from those around you, talking to them less

•    Not Taking Care of Yourself – This can include binge drinking, smoking, over or under eating, sleep deprivation or self-medicating

•    Thinking About Work… When You’re Not at Work – When you’re time away from office is predominantly spent thinking about the office

•    Generally Decreased Satisfaction – Simply put, you don’t find enjoyment in things you once took pleasure in

•    Health Problems – Digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity are possible results from job burnout and become increasingly more sever if left unchecked

Stress is a normal part of the work environment, and some of these symptoms can be infrequent abnormalities that you experience during your career. However, regardless of their frequency, you should be vigilant about keeping yourself from falling into total job burnout. As with any physical or mental ailment, please consult a physician if you experience severe symptoms of job burnout – while relaxation techniques are helpful, you need to be sure you aren’t ignoring a more sever medical problem.

In my next blog, I’ll touch on things you can do to alleviate the stressors of work and keep yourself from burning out.


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