You don’t always recognise a burnout. It could be happening to you or the person working next to you. The scary part about a burnout is that it so gradual that you don’t even realise when it is happening, because on the surface, almost everything functions the same. However, it is a problem which, if not addressed, can cause a serious of mental health problems later in life. To this end, it is important to nip it in the bid before it can do some serious damage.
According to Webster’s dictionary, a burnout is an “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”.
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Marissa Mayer, former President of Yahoo!, has often spoken about workplace burnouts and what causes them. “I have a theory that burnout is about resentment. And you beat it by knowing what it is you're giving up that makes you resentful,” she wrote in Bloomberg.
Marissa isn’t the only leading business executive to have experienced burnout. Ariana Huffington, battling days of sleepless nights, dozed off at her desk and ended up breaking her cheekbones, requiring four stitches on her eyes!
There are a dozen reasons for why people experience a burnout, at work or otherwise, stress being the leading cause. Here are some tell-tale signs of a burnout and how to counter them:
When burnout first strikes, you can find yourself growing more fatigued during the first half of the day, falling sick at more regular intervals or experiencing bouts of depression and anxiety. You might even start stress-eating and put on a sudden amount of unhealthy weight. Along with this, a recent study found a prevalence of hypertension among working professionals was 31 percent and pre-hypertension was 45.7 percent. Needless to say, this is extremely risky for individuals of all ages, considering it can lead to future heart and nerve problems.
Countermeasure: Meditation, Yoga, exercise, walking, and other physical activities allow your brain and body to experience the fresh air outside of your workspace, giving you the circulation you need to recuperate. As we all know, physical and mental health are linked.
As mentioned earlier, you won’t realise when you experience a burnout. However, it might start taking a toll on your personal and professional relationships. You will find yourself being more short-tempered, irritable, and snappy with those around you. You may also find yourself involved in ego clashes and petty fights. This may cause those closest to you to either hold an intervention or turn away from you till the wind blows over.
Countermeasure: When people start receding from you or call you out on how you have been treating them, don’t let your ego cloud your judgement. Instead, introspect. There has to be some basis to their claim, so look back and reflect on how your relationships have changed in the recent past. Understand where it is rooting from and talk to these people. Sometimes, a simple solution lies in a conversation between two friends.
Taking work home
Have you ever experienced sleepless nights because you’re too busy worrying about the presentation due tomorrow? Have you woken up in sweat because you thought you missed the campaign’s deadline? You might find yourself taking your stress-inducing work home with you, without realizing it.
Countermeasure: Enforce a strict daily schedule for yourself. Leave your work on your desk before you leave for home, to be dealt with the next day when you come in fresh. Keep your work life and personal life separate, and dedicate equal amounts of time to each sphere for it to flourish efficiently. Also, try and practise measures to ‘switch off your work-brain’ when you’re trying to get a good night’s rest as well.
Fall in performance levels
On the surface, your standard of performance may remain the same. However, you will know better than anyone whether you carry out your work with the same enthusiastic zeal you began with or whether it’s started to become a bit mechanical. In the latter, you may notice that you haven’t been putting your hundred percent into your work, because you stopped caring about it a while ago. And sooner or later, someone on your team may start noticing it too.
Countermeasure: Stop walking into work like a robot every day. Take a break, rediscover your passion for the job, and then try working with a new perspective. Try taking on new roles and responsibilities if you have begun to feel saturated at the one designated to you. Change is always necessary when it comes to facing a burnout head-on.
In a world which is constantly throwing challenges at us, you need to strive to become the best possible version of yourself to override it. So don’t lose yourself to something which is, at the end of the day, in your control.