Beat Job Burnout

Job burnout is an increasingly common workplace phenomenon. Learn how to cope.

Do you dread going to the office every morning? You feel sapped and your motivation is running on empty, but you can't quite put your finger on what's wrong. If this is how you feel about your work life, you may have a job burnout. Learn how you can overcome a burnout and stay sane.

What is a burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by constant exposure to demanding work situations. Burnout is not simply stress. Rather, it is related to feelings of inadequacy and emotional exhaustion regarding your work, and an increasingly negative attitude toward your job.

Burnout leaves you feeling powerless, hopeless, cynical, fatigued and resentful, and it can adversely affect your job, and your relationships and your health.

Signs of a burnout

Incidences of job burnout may be on the rise in today's stressful workplace, but it's not something that strikes you overnight. Therefore it's important to recognize the early signs and take action before the problem worsens. Common signs of burnout include:

  • Dreading going to work in the morning.
  • Regularly experiencing fatigue at work.
  • Feeling overworked and underappreciated.
  • Worries about job security.
  • Feeling overcommitted with responsibilities.
  • Bitterness about your duties that are not commensurate with pay.
  • Confusion about job expectations and priorities.

Common causes of burnout

You can overcome burnout. But you have to understand what caused it in the first place. Burnout can result from:

1. Feelings of underappreciation
Job burnout is often linked to a conflict between an employee's values and job requirements. A lack of appreciation and reward for your hard work and effort can lead to feelings of resentment for the company you work for. You may start to lose motivation to do a good job and feel no sense of accomplishment.

2. Demanding job requirements
When a job is always highly demanding, you may try to push yourself too hard, balancing numerous roles and multitasking at the expense of your own well-being. You may become overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and the need to push yourself even further. Over time, this eternal race can lead to burnout.

3. Unclear job expectations
You may worry about your lack of necessary knowledge or inner resources to do your job competently. You may also be stressed out by the uncertainty over what degree of authority you have.

4. Poor work relationships
Examples are working with an office bully, being undermined by colleagues or having an unreasonable boss.

What you can do to beat job burnout

1. Address your dissatisfaction at work
Talk to your manager to explore options that may alleviate your stress. Sometimes, changing your job responsibilities or having your working shift reviewed can make a difference.

2. Set realistic goals
It's important to realize that you have limited control of any given situation. You can't be everything to everybody. Establishing personally meaningful goals will give you a sense of purpose, and help set direction and focus to your life.

3. Improve relationships
Try to become more social. Build friendships with your co-workers and nuture relationships with your family. Improving your relationships at home and at work can help you feel connected and buffer against the negative effects of stress. Having allies at work will also make you feel more in control even in difficult situations.

4. Talk to a career counsellor
If you constantly feel helpless about your work, seek the help of a career counsellor who can give you stress management advice and assist you in career planning by identifying your interests, values and skills. Job burnout is a reaction to work stress, so learning the methods of handling stress can help you gain control over your work life.

5. Consider a career change
Your career counsellor may suggest you find a job that's less demanding, especially if your career field is a highly stressful one. If the cause of burnout is related to poor work relationships, you may also want to consider switching jobs.

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