Recognizing Job Burnout, and Finding Strategies to Avoid It

an employee stressed out holding his head looking at sales chart

Recognize these signs of job burnout and try these strategies to avoid it

To recognize the signs of job burnout is to take the first step toward finding strategies to avoid it, says the Mayo Clinic online. The Clinic’s article Job Burnout: How to Spot it and Take Action, defines “burnout” as, “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” Certain people, the article continues, are more likely to suffer from burnout, particularly those who allow work to run their entire lives, those who try to please everyone all the time and those in either “monotonous,” or “helping” positions.

If you’re beginning to suffer “burnout,” advises the Mayo Clinic, you will experience the following symptoms.:

  • Intense feelings of “cynicism” and “criticism” towards self and coworkers,
  • Difficulty getting to work on time and procrastinating once there,
  • Excessive fatigue, inability to concentrate, and “impatience” with colleagues,
  • Sleeping and/or eating too much, or too little,
  • Experiencing “lack of satisfaction,” even after completing assignments and receiving compliments, and
  • Using “food, drugs, and/or alcohol” to simply “feel better” on the job.

And, during routine physicals, you will be diagnosed with “depression, anxiety, high cholesterol, heart problems and/or diabetes–due to on-the-job stress.

The causes of job burnout are many, including:

  • Not having much, if any, control over your “schedule, assignments or workload,”
  • Feeling “unclear” about the degree/types of authority you wield in the workplace, or about your superiors’ expectations of you,
  • Being “bullied,” or sabotaged, by dysfunctional and jealous coworkers,
  • Knowing your “values” for dealing with people and problems differ significantly from your employer’s,
  • Feeling “stuck” in a position far removed from your “interests and skills,” and
  • Experiencing either long stretches of monotony, or days full of “chaotic activity.”

The Mayo Clinic’s strategies for preventing a burnout wildfire include, first of all, “identifying what’s fueling your feelings of burnout.” Next, you should:

  • Discuss your worries with your supervisors to try to find “compromises and solutions.” Perhaps you need a list of specific job duties. Perhaps you’d appreciate sharing an assistant with a colleague. Perhaps you need more training for a particular task. Discover the choices your bosses will offer.
  • Work on changing your negative attitude by focusing on aspects of the job/workplace you can honestly enjoy. Swap jokes. Start an office trivia contest.  Lightheartedly “challenge” a co-worker to see who can finish (the same) task more quickly.
  • Find support outside the workplace–from friends, family, clergy and/or counselors,
  • Re-evaluate what brings “passion” to your workday. Perhaps you should seek another position in another environment.
  • Participate in enjoyable “physical activity” daily. Swimming, biking, hiking, bowling and tennis enable anyone to “let off steam.”

In short, don’t let the unmanageable symptoms of impending burnout manage you. You can manage them by heeding the above-described strategies!

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