In a perfect world, we probably imagine earning a living by working a job that “doesn’t feel like work” or not having to earn a paycheck at all. We may daydream about winning the lottery and retiring early or only working a little bit to keep us occupied. While people have always experienced fatigue at times during their careers, workplace burnout has been brought into the forefront during the past few years, when many people went into lockdown, either leaving their jobs to care for family members or protect loved ones, changing to a remote setup, or changing careers when their industry took a hit. Many people experienced more time at home than they ever had as working adults, learning that a greater work-life balance led to greater feelings of rest and satisfaction.
Whether the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic gave you a fresh perspective on your job or not, one thing is for certain: Workplace Burnout is real, and it impacts many people. Workplace Burnout is common no matter the type of work you do or how long you have been employed. It is a serious mental health issue that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion. These effects can affect not only your mood but also your performance, resulting in an ongoing cycle. Take the correct steps to minimize your workplace burnout by prioritizing yourself and your needs while maintaining your duties and responsibilities.
What is Workplace Burnout?
Feeling physically exhausted at the end of your work day. Detaching from your coworkers and clients/customers. Being extremely dissatisfied with your work/performance.
What can cause Workplace Burnout?
3 Simple Steps You Can Take to Minimize Burnout
1) Prioritize your self-care:Make your well-being your top priority! You may not have a say in how many hours you spend at work or what the arrangements are there, but you can take control of your life outside of your job. By doing so, you can limit your exposure to tasks and people who are putting you in a negative mood. Nurture healthy sleeping habits, nutrition, exercise, and social connection to lessen the effects of burnout. When you are able to stay focused on the bigger picture, you are less likely to feel completely overwhelmed by your job. When our jobs take up too much space in our minds, we begin to fatigue from them. By contrast, if you can feel that there is more to your life than punching a clock, then mishaps at work don’t derail your entire day.
Give yourself grace and be patient with yourself. Self-care is an important job, but you don’t need to turn it into another version of the job that is burning you out. Do not expect perfection from yourself. It is not realistic to sit down in the evening, plot a “perfect” self-care routine, set a schedule for it, and never have to worry about it again. Self-care takes time and effort; it takes practice. There is trial and error involved in figuring out what works best for you and how to prioritize in a way that supports your mental wellness and also doesn’t sidetrack you from other important tasks or decisions. For example, if your highest priority is rest, but then you feel that other things that help with your self-care can’t get finished, that won’t help you. Finding a balance between rest and doing groceries so that you can eat when you’re hungry may sound like it should be easy, but that may not be the case for you. Creating your mental wellness plan happens over time. It is also never really finished, as your life will move in cycles that will impact your highest needs and priorities.
When you think about self-care, consider the following factors: access, effectiveness, how realistic it is, obstacles, and values. It is one thing to say that your self-care routine should be going to a high-end spa every weekend, but if you cannot afford that, then your access to it is limited. This doesn’t mean that you can’t strive to create a spa-like atmosphere for yourself. Do you have a bathtub; can you put on a face mask and soak in the tub while listening to your favorite podcast once a week? Can you recruit a friend, and you can give each other hand massages and manicures every other week? How effective would that plan be for you? Would it make an impact? How do the logistics work; can you carve out consistent time?Obstacles aren’t necessarily deal-breakers when it comes to caring for yourself. They are things to be aware of. If there is a day of the week when you and your family are so heavily scheduled that you cannot carve out time to meditate, go for a walk, eat a relaxing dinner, and so on, you may want to figure out if you can change anything on that day. If you cannot, how can you ensure your basic needs are met? Can you focus on getting enough sleep, being hydrated, and eating enough food? If that day has a lot of obstacles, where can you find a day with less obstacles in which to counteract your over-scheduled day?
2) Shift your perspective:
Sometimes, we focus on something so much that it feels like the whole picture, but if we pull back a little and consider all the elements at play, we can see that there is much more to the situation than we
were considering. The same can be true with our work life. It makes sense; things that distress us have a tendency to interrupt our thoughts and disrupt how we feel in our bodies. The other issue is that once you perceive that the majority of your day is negative, any little thing that goes wrong fulfills that prophecy. You become convinced that there is nothing positive to enjoy, and every mishap that occurs solidifies your opinion.
Upon first considering your work life from a neutral point of view, you may be quick to zero in on the aspect(s) most beyond your control and also least convenient, like your work schedule or how many tasks are assigned to you in your position. Although some aspects of your work life are inflexible, such as your workload and schedule, altering your perspective in an effort to buffer the negative effects they have on your mood is ultimately your choice.
Think of new ways you can reshape your job and work priorities. If your hours are set, but you can do tasks in any order you choose, decide to get the toughest ones out of the way first to get them over with. Or buffer them with more pleasant tasks. You may also decide that you want to be flexible about your approach, getting them all over with some days and spreading them out on other days. Is there someone you can team up with when working on tough stuff so that you feel like you’ve got a support system? Perhaps you both have tasks you struggle with and doing them side by side will feel more fun. Perhaps you’re permitted to help each other out and each share each other’s task to get it done twice as fast with a friend. Unfortunately, there are unpleasant aspects to a lot of jobs. What parts of your job do you enjoy? How can you ground yourself and reconnect to that when you are feeling dismayed? Where can you find room in your day to make sure you get to do the things you enjoy? Can you list ten things you like about going to work? If you can’t, can you make it a goal to think of ten things? Seeking the positive in situations can help us change our mindset. This doesn’t mean that we’re oblivious to things we don’t enjoy or in denial. It is about determining for ourselves how we will greet each day and how we will talk to ourselves about our lives.
A common cause of burnout is monotony; many people think only “high-stress professions” struggle with this kind of fatigue. Make sure that you aren’t comparing your struggles with your perception of other people’s employment, but rather that you focus on what your obstacles are so that you can address them. It’s no use saying, “I shouldn’t feel this way because I’m not a brain surgeon with peoples’ lives in my hands!” In actuality, it can be exhausting in its way to keep going at a slow pace. It can feel hopeless to work a job where you have to be there for eight hours but could accomplish your work in half that time if they didn’t need someone “manning the desk.” It is challenging to stay motivated and feel like you’re experiencing success when you feel your time is being wasted, even if you are being paid for that time. Address your struggles and give yourself permission to feel them so that you can approach them effectively.
3) Reduce exposure to job stressors:
Take a step back and reassess your expectations for your position, your colleagues (including supervisors), and your clients/customers. Do you take their actions and words personally; does it hurt you when they don’t show up how you would ideally want them to? There is a difference between bad behavior and different points of view. For example, if your coworker’s actions seem to indicate a lack of thoughtfulness about how you are impacted, do you believe that that is your coworker’s intention? Or might they actually have no idea what their impact is on your day? Are you so eager to please that you take on extraordinary requests, accept deadlines that are too soon, and work overtime to deliver? Is this what is expected of you, or a precedent you have set/are setting? Does your direct supervisor have a different communication style to yours? Can you compromise?
Learn how to say “No” when you need a break and not feel guilty about it. Too often, we get caught up in the feeling that being employed means we have to follow every command and go along with all our coworkers’ wants as well. We think that we keep our jobs and create harmony at work by “being easygoing,” but really, we just stress ourselves out. Often, we discover far too late that we had more flexibility than we thought we did. For example, every job has mandatory tasks. However, every employer also has an obligation to ensure that you are capable of carrying out your mandatory tasks. Do you require additional training or support for some aspects of your job? Are there courses or classes you could take, or could someone mentor you for awhile? We stay quiet and try to solve problems ourselves because we are concerned about job security. If you work in a workplace that demands an outcome of you but will not provide you the resources so that you can succeed, consider if you feel the need to retain that position.If you are the kind of person who goes above and beyond on and off the clock for your office, consider why. Is it always your job to get the card and cake for everyone’s birthday? Is that officially part of your job description, for which you are compensated? Or do you do it to avoid making waves with the rest of the staff? Setting boundaries is the key to self-care when it comes to creating a functional work environment.All of life comes with stressors, and your job is no exception. You can’t always limit your exposure to stress. Attending therapy, such as the therapy for young adults we offer here in Woodland Hills, is a great way to ensure that you have someone on your side for support.
If you aren’t sure if you’re experiencing Workplace Burnout, consider the signs and symptoms and how they impact you. You may also be trying to convince yourself that “things aren’t so bad” or that what you’re
struggling with “isn’t that serious,” either because it is overwhelming to consider or you’ve absorbed the “grind set” message that we are inundated with in our society. Workplace burnout can impact you in any position at any stage of your life. Sometimes, it can sneak up on you when you would least expect it. If the job itself causes your burnout, you may have a change to consider. If you aren’t setting boundaries, managing a work-life balance as diligently as you could, or you have been focusing on the negatives, then you can and are encouraged to take steps to feel better.
Do you worry uncontrollably and often feel like you’re under stress? Is it hard for you to maintain a work-life balance, cope with life transitions, or set healthy boundaries with others?
When you seek Anxiety Therapy in Woodland Hills, CA, you will learn CBT and mindfulness techniques to better regulate your emotions, and have healthy thought and behavior patterns that will best serve you. Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Client Care Coordinator.
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