Once upon a time, the biggest bragging trend was who was partying the hardest, yet now it's about who's the biggest "hustler". Being labelled a workaholic is one worn proudly as a badge of honour. And it's not just the self-employed, entrepreneur types either, with office colleagues competing over who worked the latest and who’s to-do list is the longest. There's nothing wrong with having the drive to grow professionally, but it's important to know where to toe the line. Push too far and your lifestyle will no longer be sustainable, which is why so many are now suffering from full-blown burn out...
What Actually Is Burn Out?
Actually rather similar to depression in physical symptoms, the World Health Organization (WHO) states it's a syndrome “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
There comes times in everyone's careers where a big project kicks us into overdrive, and it can seem impossible to switch off, especially as we toss and turn at night. But if this becomes a permanent state, and you don't return to normal after a big deadline, this is where the symptoms of chronic stress and burn out will start to creep in...
Gallup's study of almost 7,500 full-time employees found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out very often or always, and another 44% reported feeling this sometimes. In the UK alone, it’s said that 595,000 people suffered from workplace stress last year.
What Are The Symptoms To Look Out For?
Signs of physical & emotional exhaustion: including chronic fatigue, insomnia, forgetfulness, a lack of concentration, anxiety, recurring sickness and appetite loss.
Signs of increased cynicism & detachment. 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 people, call in sick more often or stop returning calls / emails.
Feeling ineffective & a lack of accomplishment. Feeling hopeless, useless and unimportant, with increased irritability. Having a lack of productivity and performing poorly at work – often resulting in a lengthy to do list and incomplete tasks.
Remember: this doesn't happen overnight. It often creeps in slowly, making the symptoms harder to recognise. Be conscious of mild symptoms, so that you can stop it in its track before you’re no longer able to function effectively.
You're Feeling Some Of These Symptoms, What You Can Do About It?
Schedule Time to Relax & Unplug
No, your high intensity morning workout isn't the answer here! Try to schedule in time every day to do something gentle and relaxing – that might be a walk in the park, plugging in a podcast or reading before you go to sleep. A quick, 10-minute guided meditation is another great way to slow and calm your nervous system. Find more time and get your phone addiction in check by setting strict boundaries with technology – even if that's as simple as no phones at meal times or only checking emails between 9-6.
Do More Than Just Work
Does your life revolves solely around your career? Making sure to give time to things you love outside of the workplace will make it harder to work yourself into the ground. Try joining a sports club, working on a creative hobby or just plan more time to spend with friends and family. Having commitments in place is a great way to guarantee you’ll get out of the office at a sensible time and often improves your productivity throughout the day – a hard deadline can be an awesome motivator!
Get Enough Sleep
We sound like a broken record don't we? But poor sleep leaves you tired, grumpy and increasingly susceptible to poor job performance and, you guessed it, chronic stress and burn out! When you start to feel some of the symptoms above, prioritise giving your body the extra sleep it needs to replenish your depleted resources.
Know When It's You, and When It’s Work
It’s time to get honest with yourself, and your employer. How much stress do you currently have in your life and what can you do about it? Is most of it internally driven or are you under extreme working demands from your workplace? Some changes might be easy to make personally, but you might also need to have a conversation with your boss to relieve some pressure. If this isn’t something that'll go well, it might be time to think about your next move. It sounds extreme, but your health should always come first. Make changes now before it’s too late...