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Signs of Burnout

And what you can do about them!

What is Burnout?

Everyone feels stress occasionally, it’s natural. Usually stress is isolated to changes or transitions that occur in our lives. Stress amps us up and causes our emotions to become overly activated. Burnout is different from stress in that it dulls our feelings and causes us to become disconnected from our lives, from the people around us. It is caused by chronic stress and results in exhaustion and fatigue. Workplace burnout creates symptoms and behaviors that may be visible to our loved ones before we even see them.

Burnout causes us to disconnect and to withdraw from the people we are connected to in our lives. It causes us to pull back, to numb our feelings, and to go on autopilot. Burnout makes us feel hopeless and useless, unable to make any productive changes in our life. It sucks the life from us and robs us of our job and innovation. 

Types of Burnout

Frenetic Burnout

Frenetic burnouts look like workaholics. They have difficulty separating their work from their identity and bury themselves in their job. This is how they cope. The way you’ll notice burnout if you’re deeply involved in your work is by looking at your self care practices. If you find yourself skipping lunch or eating at your desk, getting to the office early, leaving late, or checking emails outside of work hours, it might be time to address the way you’re feeling. Being attached to your job can be a good thing, but not if it means losing your sense of self.

The best way to combat frenetic burnout is to start slowing down. Take time to step away from your desk, have lunch outside! It can be helpful to find ways to unwind and be present in your life outside of work, such as yoga, meditation, or painting. Anything to get work off the brain and find joy outside of work. If you’re still feeling lost in your job, and slowing down isn’t helping, take a look at your options. Set smaller, more manageable goals for yourself, plan breaks throughout the day to help you keep things in perspective.

Worn-Out Burnout

Worn-out burnouts cope by disengaging and giving up. They report feelings of apathy and disinterest about their work and struggle to keep motivated. Worn-out people tend to give up or feel oppressed by challenges in the workplace and tend to express melancholy and fatigue. Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains, and muscle fatigue are common with feeling disconnected. Combat these feelings by finding ways to engage in your life and sparking your creativity. Take a look at your exercise routine, lean on friends or your therapist for support. At work, try talking with your supervisor about things you can do to change up your relationship with your work. Maybe a change of scenery, or a different, more stimulating project to work on. 

Boredom Burnout

Boredom burnout can initially look similar to someone with worn-out burnout. They are similarly apathetic at work, but instead of giving up just sigh and work around obstacles. They seem lackluster and resigned. Picture Milton from Office Space. Though these employees fly under the radar and are still getting their work done, they suffer in silent indifference. Opening a line of communication between you and your supervisor is crucial here. Talk about your expectations and what you want to be different. See if you can reach a compromise, or at the lease get more support in the workplace. If you aren’t able to find support there, seek out co-workers, or friends you can talk to about your work stressors. 

Like so many of you, I have also experienced burnout at work. My first two years as a therapist I felt overwhelmed and started to disengage. My go-to ways to combat burnout are to have a healthy routine that includes time out in nature, at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and time spent with friends. I increase my exercise, engage in meaningful projects ( I like woodworking), and to hang out with my animals. I ask for help when I need it, and am diligent about keeping my work life and my home life separate. I use reiki exercises to keep my energy positive and focused on the good things in life. Find what works for you and keep practicing!

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