Many of us are guilty of wearing workaholism like a badge of honour. Often coined as the “busy Olympics”, it’s commonplace in most offices to compete with colleagues over who worked the latest, who got the least sleep and who’s to-do list is the longest. Drive and ambition are great qualities that are crucial to get ahead in today’s working climate, but the key is knowing where to toe the line. The lifestyles many people are living aren’t sustainable, leading them straight to total burn out…
What Actually Is Burn Out?
Not too dissimilar in symptoms to depression, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes burn out as a syndrome “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
When a big project comes up at work, it’s normal to gear up a little, meaning you might find it harder to stop thinking about it or to switch off and sleep at night. But where the problem lies is if you don’t return to your normal state after the project is finished. This is where chronic stress and burn out can start to creep in…
A study by Gallup of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, and another 44% reported feeling this sometimes. burned out sometimes. In the UK alone, it’s said that 595,000 people suffered from workplace stress last year.
So, What Are The Symptoms To Look Out For?
Signs of physical and emotional exhaustion: this can include chronic fatigue, insomnia, forgetfulness, a lack of concentration, increased anxiety, recurring illness (depleted immune system) and a loss of appetite.
Signs of increased cynicism and detachment: including the loss of enjoyment at work and in other areas of your life, such as making social plans. Pessimism, negativity and isolating yourself you might avoid contact with other people, call in sick often or stop returning calls and emails.
Feeling ineffective and a lack of accomplishment: including feeling hopeless, useless and unimportant, with increased irritability. Having a lack of productivity and performing poorly at work – often resulting in an ever-growing to do list and tasks left incomplete.
It’s important to remember that burn out doesn’t usually happen overnight. It creeps up slowly, which can make it harder to recognise. Be conscious of mild symptoms cropping up, so that you can stop it in its tracks, before you’re no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level.
If You Are Feeling These Symptoms Creep In, What You Can Do About It?
Schedule Time to Relax & Unplug
No, your high intensity morning workout doesn’t count as relaxation time! Try to schedule in time every day to do something to unwind – whether that’s going out for a walk, plugging in a podcast or reading a book before bed. Try a 10-minute guided meditation on an app such as Headspace to calm your nervous system. Setting boundaries with technology is key – so try to put your phone away at meal times and delegate certain time periods for email checking.
Do More Than Just Work
When your life revolves solely around your career, it’s easy to start working yourself into the ground. Make sure you’re making time to do things you love outside of work. You could join a sports club, work on a hobby or just spend more time with friends and family. Making plans is also a great way to guarantee you’ll get out of the office at a sensible time and might even improve your productivity during the day – deadlines can be great motivators!
Get Enough Sleep
Poor sleep will leave you tired, grumpy and increasingly susceptible to poor job performance and, you guessed it, chronic stress and burn out. When you start to feel the symptoms of burn out, put sleep back on your priority list. Your body needs extra sleep to help replenish your depleted resources. Need some help drifting off? Ensure you get a better slumber with these top tips from eve sleep.
Know When It's You, and When It’s Work
It’s time to get honest. You need to assess the amount of stress currently in your life and decide what you can do to reduce it. Is it internally driven or are extreme working demands playing a part? Figure out what changes you can make personally, but you might also have to have a conversation with your workplace about how you can reduce the pressure. If this isn’t something you can do, it might be time to move on. Your health comes first after all, and it’s important to make changes now before it’s too late.