By Lauren Presutti
Have you ever had a stressful day and you came home feeling drained, but after a good night of sleep, you wake up the next day and feel refreshed? With a little self-care, you were able to recover from your stress relatively quickly. On the other hand, burnout is a chronic state of mind – rather than a temporary state. Burnout usually includes ongoing, prolonged feelings of exhaustion or dread. It occurs when we arrive at the point where even when we try to have a good night of sleep or take care of ourselves, we still end up feeling an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Burnout may be the result of having repeated stressful experiences, over and over again, without achieving stress-relief.
Although feelings of burnout can occur in any area of our lives (social burnout, activity burnout, relationship burnout, among other forms), discussing workplace burnout can be especially important given how many hours we spend each week in our careers. There are three main signs that I think about when it comes to workplace burnout: 1) feelings of exhaustion, 2) identifying less and less with your job, and 3) feelings of reduced professional ability.
If you’re feeling exhausted, you might notice that it takes more and more energy to do simple tasks. You might feel like you require more downtime outside of work than usual. Starting to identify less and less with your job might mean that you are losing your sense of pride at work. You might start caring less about your job, losing interest, and you might start to grow resentment at work. Finally, feelings of reduced professional ability might cause you to feel like the demands of the job are too much. You might start to wonder if you’re not the right person for the job, you may grow increasingly frustrated, and you may question your role at work.
In other words, if you feel exhausted, start to hate your job, and begin to feel less capable at work, you are showing signs of burnout. How can we prevent workplace burnout from occurring? It’s so important to understand tips and strategies for creating a mentally healthy workplace. Use the list below to integrate some healthier practices into your work life to maintain your job satisfaction and guard against mental fatigue.
- Feeling frustrated by policies that don’t make sense? Learn the rationale or motivations behind certain policies or procedures to better understand why things operate the way they do.
- Feeling like you don’t have a say? Be engaged in workplace decisions, get more involved, and support initiatives aimed at improving both productivity and mental health in the workplace.
- Be a positive role model. Strive to be genuine in your actions and promote the kind of workplace culture that inspires people to do their best.
- Noticing signs of unfair treatment? Speak up if you see instances of bullying, harassment, or discrimination. Don’t be a bystander.
- Be aware of successful best practices from other similar organizations, so that you can decrease or eliminate unnecessary work patterns that stress you out. In other words, don’t reinvent the wheel or waste your energy on things that aren’t going to produce good results.
- Frustrated by ongoing issues? When problems arise, use the opportunity to explore a variety of alternatives, and seek input from everybody on the team to brainstorm how to eliminate similar problems in the future.
- Try to understand your needs and the needs of your coworkers, so that you can encourage open communication about what you and your coworkers need to perform your best. Be open-minded about the experiences and feelings of colleagues. Respond with empathy and offer peer support.
- Celebrate your wins. Take time with others to reflect on positive performance success and feel good about collective goals accomplished.
- Talk openly about mental health in the workplace. Suggest positive wellness routines for colleagues during lunch hours or after work. Share personal experiences with managing stress to help reduce stigma, when appropriate.
- Be aware of resources where people can find help. Research your options for getting mental health support so you know it’s available when you or your colleagues are showing signs of burnout.