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Job burnout: How to spot it and 3 ways to avoid it.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed or stretched thin sometimes at your workplace? Relentless work stress leads into the state we call burnout. Burnout affects not only your performance, but also your well being, in and out of the workplace. This can occur to your team and to your organization as well.

In this blog, you will find details on how to spot the job burnout, and I will give you 3 ways to prevent it from happening in your professional and personal life.

Sofia Kakkava's advice on job burnout

How easily can someone distinguish if what is having is a burnout or anxiety?

In my HR career I saw people getting confused between being unhappy in their job versus being burned out. These are two different things.

Stress usually occurs in a relatively short- term period by the feeling that you are out of control in the work or when having a strict deadline. On the contrary, burnout happens over a longer period.

For example if you are dealing with stress regarding an upcoming project, taking some days off can help release that feeling. On the other hand, burnout cannot be cured only by taking an extended vacation or working less hours. Burnout affects the whole mindset of a person. And here comes the critical question: “How can anyone deal effectively with that in order to maintain a healthier work and personal lifestyle?”

First key is to recognize the signs! Now take a minute and reflect on the below questions?

  • Has my behavior changed over the past month?

  • Do I find it difficult to concentrate?

  • Am I losing sight of myself and my goals?

  • Have I reached a point where it is difficult to maintain relationships and be present with my loved ones?

  • Do I feel frustrated and have no patience with my co-workers?

  • Am I suddenly facing unexplained muscle tension, pain or insomnia?

Are you a team manager? You can use the above set of questions to reflect on the stress levels of your team.

If the answer to one or more of the above is yes, then this may be an indication that you or a member of your team is suffering from burnout. But do not worry or be scared. You are NOT the only one. More and more people are experiencing stress and find it difficult to show up at their workplaces because of the negative feelings that come up every time they have to get ready for work.

Burnout keeps you from being productive and if you don’t acknowledge and treat it, it will keep having severe effects on your physical and mental health.

In 2021 Deloitte published a report Women@Work where they conducted a survey of 5.000 women at work which showed the negative impact in their career progression. 53% said that their stress levels are higher than that they were a year ago and 46% are feeling burned out.

Remember you always have to listen to our body and mind! They can be a very helpful factor in the process of tackling what is wrong with you and then starting to deal with it .

According to Christina Maslach, a psychologist specialized in job burnout there are three components that arise in response to chronic stressors on the job, and those are exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy.

Exhaustion usually includes symptoms like the inability to concentrate, an endless feeling of having something to do on a 24/7 basis, intense pressure or the inability to follow a simple routine.

Cynicism is another contributor to work burnouts. You may see yourself distancing from projects, arrangements, deadlines, detached from people in your professional and personal life. As a result, cynicism is provoked by negative and even callous feelings that can be raised from a work overload or in the presence of a high conflict at your company.

Inefficacy touches on the feelings of incompetence and lack of productivity. You may experience a situation where you find yourself unable to accomplish certain tasks or losing your connection with your work. For example, those feelings may reflect the lack of a good relationship between you and your manager, or the lack of meaningful recognition for your projects.

You may think now that you have to face all three of those components in order to suffer from burnout. But that is not the case! You may be dealing with only one component but still finding yourself feeling burnout. That is why it’s crucial to recognize it and focus on strategies that will have a long impact in your life.

Now that you are aware of what causes burnout let’s dive deeper into some practices that can boost your mental toughness and prevent burnout.

1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment. Recognizing how we feel is the first step in the process of addressing burnout.

Take a step back and press pause. You have to stop and look around you to notice how tired or burnout you are. A reset meditation or breathing exercises can help you conquer it.

Look for ways to be part of a virtual or physical community where you will have the opportunity to learn meditation practices, to have some coaching exercises and connect with like-minded people.

2. Prioritize self-care.

Take time for yourself. Fill your day with activities that replenish your emotional and physical energy. Establish good sleep habits, try a relaxing activity such as yoga, get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you deal with stress and take your mind off the work.

Follow a balanced diet and practices that help your well being like meditating and journaling. Here you can find my journals that will help you follow a healthier lifestyle.

And if that is too much because you are dealing with a very packed week, start recording what you are spending most of your time on and then make an evaluation on how valuable this activity is for you. This will help you limit your exposure to people and tasks that have a negative impact on you. One of the biggest benefits is to take space. Space to process. Space to step back.

3. Establish boundaries.

Do you have a problem saying “No”? Are you uncomfortable by the idea of confronting a colleague over a continuing behavior that bothers you?

Sometimes you may find it very difficult to establish your boundaries in the fear that you may be treated differently or misunderstood by others but it is completely OK to put limits and boundaries on your working environment in order to reduce exposure to job stressors.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your supervisor. Constructive feedback and stating your opinion is always a positive evaluator for companies . Maybe you can change expectations or reach compromises to make it work out. Sometimes you may realize that this working environment doesn’t suit you and have to adapt to that. And that’s ok!

Remember that part of your life can change e.g. moving house, moving from a country to another, having a baby, going through a breakup - leading you into a reclassification of your priorities. The type of environment you were working in your early 20s may not fit you in your mid 30s.

Sofia Kakkava work about job burnout
Copyright © 2018 Deloitte Development LLC. ALl rights reserved.

The world is surrounded by people who are constantly telling you who you should be, how you should live your life, and what you should need. Do not let anyone put limits on yourself and make you stay in a working environment which is not the best option for you, personally and professionally.

Take the risk and explore what kind of work environment will support you and your well being. Keep an open mind as you consider your options. Try not to let a demanding or unrewarding job undermine your health.

Finally, look at all those brutal experiences as a turning point that drives you into a happier and healthier attitude both in your professional and personal life.Reflect those experiences in order to understand better what caused them and start by slowly implementing one of those strategies that I’m suggesting above. It will make your day instantly better!


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