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Dealing With Job Burnout
You’ve worked long enough to know that there are difficult periods in any job, when you feel like you have way too much to do and are not getting the support you need. But usually those periods end when the big project is finished or you take a few days off to recharge. If your work stress continues and builds, you may be experiencing something more serious -- job burnout. The Mayo Clinic offers some tips for recognizing and dealing with job burnout.
Burnout involves physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It is the result of long-term stress, rather than a short-term work problem. You may be a candidate for burnout if you don’t have a balance between work and the rest of your life or if you try to do too much, to be everything to everyone. People who work in monotonous jobs are especially susceptible, as are people who work in the helping professions, such as health care, teaching, counseling or law enforcement.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that you ask yourself these questions if you think you might be experiencing job burnout:
- Am I becoming more cynical, critical and sarcastic at work?
- Do I have trouble feeling joy?
- Do I feel like I have to drag myself into work, and once I get there I can’t get started?
- Am I becoming more irritable with customers and co-workers?
- Do I feel that I face insurmountable barriers at work?
- Do I feel like I don’t have enough energy for work?
- Am I not getting any satisfaction from my work?
- Can I no longer laugh at myself?
- Do co-workers ask what’s wrong, and whether I am OK?
- Do I feel disillusioned about my job?
- Am I self-medicating with food, drugs or alcohol to make myself feel better or to avoid feeling at all?
- Are my sleeping or eating habits different?
- Do I have headaches, neck pain or lower back pain?
If you think these symptoms may be work-related, consider whether your job has become a source of stress. For example, you may feel that you have no control over your job situation. Maybe you feel like you can’t control your hours or the type or amount of work you do. You also may feel that you don’t know what is expected of you, so you can’t know if you are doing a good job. Or maybe you are not given the resources you need to do your job well.
Perhaps the job is just not a good fit for you. You may have different values than your boss, for example, or the job may not tapping your interests or strengths. Maybe the workplace is dysfunctional, with an office bully or a boss who gives you no direction or watches you too closely. Or maybe you are too busy all the time, or not busy enough to avoid boredom.
You may be able to correct some of the job frustrations by talking to a supervisor or mentor. But you may just need to find a new job that does not leave you stressed out and unhappy. Before you do, though, try to analyze what you did not like about your old job, so that you don’t find yourself in the same situation.
A note of caution: Many of the symptoms of job burnout are also symptoms of depression. Both burnout and depression are mental health issues, and you may want to talk to a mental health professional to help you get your life back on track.