There's lots of stressors in life. Job burnout is a particular type of stress, involving physical, emotional or mental exhaustion paired with doubts about your ability to do the job and questioning the value of your work. It's important to evaluate the problem and take active measures before it affects your health.
Mayo Clinic and Forbes.com have provided self assessment questions to help you determine if you are experiencing job burnout.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you become cynical or critical at work? Feeling like what you do doesn't really matter?
- Do you drag yourself to work? Do you lack enthusiasm? Have trouble getting started once you arrive?
- Do you have difficulty concentrating? Are you more forgetful?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements? Is your job performance slipping?
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
- Are you preoccupied with work and expending mental energy thinking about work outside of work?
Mayo Clinic suggests that job burnout can result from various factors, including:
- Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job — such as your schedule, assignments or workload — could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
- Unclear job expectations. If you're unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you're not likely to feel comfortable at work.
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. These and related situations can contribute to job stress.
- Mismatch in values. If your values differ from the way your employer does business or handles grievances, the mismatch may eventually take a toll.
- Poor job fit. If your job doesn't fit your interests and skills, it may become increasingly stressful over time.
- Extremes of activity. When a job is always monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused — which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
- Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you may feel more stressed.
- Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don't have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you may burn out quickly.
Are some people more susceptible to experiencing job burnout? Absolutely! Certain personal traits as well as job situations can affect your reactions and responses. According to Mayo Clinic, you may be more likely to experience job burnout if:
- You identify so strongly with work that you lack a reasonable balance between your work life and your personal life
- You try to be everything to everyone
- You work in a helping profession, such as health care, counseling or teaching
- You feel you have little or no control over your work
- Your job is monotonous
Ignoring your feelings and responses to stressful job situations can have significant consequences to your health including:
- Excessive stress
- Fatigue - exhaustion can be mental, emotional or physical
- A negative spillover into personal relationships or home life
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes, especially in women
- Vulnerability to illnesses
What to do? Is quitting the only answer? Not necessarily! There are things you can do, short of quitting, that can make things better for you. If you're concerned about job burnout, take action. Mayo Clinic offers these ideas to get started:
- Manage the stressors that contribute to job burnout. Once you've identified what's fueling your feelings of job burnout, you can make a plan to address the issues.
- Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Perhaps you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Is job sharing an option? What about telecommuting or flexing your time? Would it help to establish a mentoring relationship? What are the options for continuing education or professional development?
- Adjust your attitude. If you've become cynical at work, consider ways to improve your outlook. Rediscover enjoyable aspects of your work. Recognize co-workers for valuable contributions or a job well done. Take short breaks throughout the day. Spend time away from work doing things you enjoy.
- Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends, loved ones or others, support and collaboration may help you cope with job stress and feelings of burnout. If you have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), take advantage of the available services.
- Assess your interests, skills and passions. An honest assessment can help you decide whether you should consider an alternative job, such as one that's less demanding or one that better matches your interests or core values.
- Get some exercise. Regular physical activity, like walking or biking, can help you to better deal with stress. It can also help get your mind off work and focus on something else.
Additional ideas are offered by monster.com.
1. Take a break. Be sure to take breaks to detach from the stress from work. It gives your mind time to rest. Charging though your job assignments to get them done can keep you from finding enjoyment in completing tasks. Being active during your break, such as taking a walk, will help your mood, increase your energy level and foster more creativity.
2. Do tasks in a different order. Doing things the same way, in the same order day after day can create monotony and boredom. If you can, change up your routine or schedule to offer yourself some variety.
3. Focus on one task at a time. Feeling overwhelmed can be paralyzing. You don't know where to start, so you either don't start or stay unfocused, jumping from one task to another, and not really completing anything. Break large projects down into smaller, more manageable steps or projects to be done one at a time.
4. Get help. Delegate or get help to manage the load. If you don't have to be in charge, it is helpful to get assistance, especially with tedious tasks. Divide and conquer that task!
5. Reward yourself. We all need motivators. Just completing a task is rewarding, but looking forward to a pleasurable and positive reward can be helpful too. Motivators can include taking a break or nap, getting ice cream, having a night on the town or taking a day off. It doesn't have to be substantial, even simple, inexpensive, but meaningful rewards can be equally rewarding.
Forbes.com offers these suggestions:
1. Take Relaxation Seriously.
Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.
2. Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life.
Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).
While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
4. Get Enough Sleep.
Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too: We’ve seen that sleep can actually improve your memory. Recovering from chronic stress and burnout requires removing or reducing the demands on you and replenishing your resources. Sleep is one strategy for replenishing those resources. For inspiration, check out our tips to get better sleep.
5. Get Organized
Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
6. Stay Attuned
It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.
7. Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them
Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors. Sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well. Some burnout really is the fault of work situations like hiring freezes, layoffs, cutting work hours, rolling back benefits, requiring unpaid days off, increasing hours, etc. To find out whether it’s time to move on, figure out whether your position is a “mismatch between your needs and what you’re getting working for that particular organization.”
8. Figure Out When Enough Is Enough
Consider talking to your manager about how to improve communication and create a better, more positive work environment. Angle the conversation about how those cultural shifts will enable you to continue to serve the company and become an even better employee. There will be times when the organization is unable or unwilling to make changes. At that point, you need to decide whether you can adapt or need to move on.
Notice? Quitting your job isn't and shouldn't be the first choice you should make when you think your have job burnout. Working on being adaptable, finding other creative outlets beside "work", searching for and identifying with enjoyable aspects of work, and compartmentalizing work vs. personal life can be extremely helpful.
Here are the links to the sites I referenced for you to read more: