How to Deal with Occupational Burnout
For many of us, there are aspects of our jobs that we love. But there are times when our patience can be tested, we are working long hours or we have coworkers who are difficult to deal with. It is normal to feel tired, discouraged or overwhelmed at times, especially after the last year and a half of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. But if you feel this way most of the time, you may be experiencing occupational burnout.
Burnout doesn't happen overnight. It's the result of a long period of increasing stress at work that isn't being managed. It's a state of physical, mental and emotional fatigue. It can be a gradual shift from feeling stressed to feeling empty and detached. You may feel like you're not productive at work, and things won't get better.
It is also important to know that burnout doesn't just happen to those who work in an office every day. Burnout can affect people whose primary role is caring for others as well. Burnout is real, and it is important to recognize the signs of burnout so you can help mitigate these feelings.
Signs and symptoms of burnout
People can experience physical, mental and emotional burnout, which in turn can affect how you work. Here are some telltale signs that you may be experiencing work burnout.
1. You feel detached from your work: People experiencing burnout may start to feel emotionally distant from their jobs and feel a sort of numbness when it comes to their work tasks. They view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating and may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with.
2. You may start to experience physical symptoms such as:
- Headaches or muscle pain
- Stomachaches or intestinal issues
- Feeling tired or drained
- Change in sleeping habits
- Change in eating habits
3. You are emotionally exhausted: People with burnout typically feel emotionally drained and depleted. This often causes a lack of energy to do work or get tasks done.
4. You experience reduced work performance: Burnout typically affects everyday tasks. People with burnout may feel unmotivated to do tasks that at one point seemed simple. They may also have difficulty concentrating and can lack creativity.
How you can start to recover from burnout
It's important to know that burnout likely won't resolve itself. And, it can lead to other issues if not addressed, like high blood pressure, insomnia and alcohol or substance abuse, so it's essential to take steps to resolve it and find healthy ways to cope. Managing stress at work is part of staying healthy. Your stress may be work-related, or you might bring home-related stress to work. Either way, our work often takes up a good chunk of our time, so it's important to find tips and tricks to help us handle daily stress.
A few simple ways to manage stress include:
- Getting enough sleep. Even a small amount of sleep deprivation can affect memory, judgment and mood. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
- Being social. Having a strong support network can help with stress levels. Joining clubs can help you socialize while also spending time on enjoyable activities.
- Meditation. If you're able to, step away from your work tasks and find a quiet place for a few minutes. Meditation could be deep breathing, repeating a mantra or prayer, or a mindful walk.
- Exercise. Ease stress with exercise or other stress-reduction activities. Healthy adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week.
- Self-reflect. How are you feeling? Consider using audio meditation apps, like Headspace, to help with your self-reflections.
- Talk to a professional. If you are experiencing a significant amount of stress, seek professional advice.
- Stay connected to loved ones. Schedule a call or send a text message. It is important to stay connected to those closest to you.
- Talk with your boss. Address your workload and ways you can manage workplace demands.
- Reach out to coworkers. Developing friendships with people you work with can help with job burnout. Try engaging with your colleagues or schedule social events together after work. And be sure to talk about things that don't revolve around work! Get to know one another. Learn more about each other's hobbies or passions outside of work.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a significant amount of stress, it is important to seek professional advice.
See a licensed therapist face-to-face from the comfort of your own home through Ochsner Anywhere Care.