Burn out can happen to any of us. It can be a direct result of a toxic work environment or it can creep up on us as we pour all of our energy into doing the work that we love. Either way, when signs of burnout become apparent, they tend to look the same. Furthermore, adjustments must be made to reverse burnout and to prevent it again in the future. Here are some key signs of burnout:
Poor performance and loss of self confidence
Noticeable declines in work performance and confidence in your ability to complete previously mastered assignments are signs of burnout. The pace of the work environment can seem faster and more demanding than ever. The goal of you doing world-class work may diminished to hopes of you barely getting by. You may have decided that staring into space or searching for a new job seems like a better alternative to working. Poor work performance can become a routine and often leaves the person wondering how did this become a problem in the first place. You may even think that your boss will call you out on your performance sooner than later.
Bounce back strategy: Think back to the motivation you had when you were hired or when you were getting your job done with ease. Think about your thoughts and actions that allow you to perform well. The ability to perform at or around this level is still within reach. Make a plan to eliminate distractions at work. Also, prior to coming to work make sure you are well rested and are eliminating energy-draining interactions.
Talking about the amazing work you do has given way to negative talk. Constantly complaining over small tasks that didn’t bother you in the past is a sign of pessimism. Your co -workers may even point out that you have been increasingly negative with your communication lately. Your outlook on life, especially work, is in the dumps. It is harder to find positive things to say.
Bounce back strategy: Even in the midst of burnout, your time should be spent on forward-moving thoughts. Change the way you are looking at your current situation. Your body will do everything in its power to make sure that your actions are in alignment with your mindset and thoughts. When you catch yourself having negative thoughts, first ask yourself “How does this make me feel?” Then, decide if those feelings will push you closer towards your goals and priorities or keep you from taking action. If your thoughts are not forward moving, ask yourself what does thinking and feeling the opposite of this look like? It may seem awkward at first, but keep at it until positive thoughts are at the forefront of your thinking once again.
Sometimes, the workplace is known for being a fast pace, high-stress environment. Feeling like you’re part of the team and your contributions matter to your team can really help increase your level of fulfillment. We all have things we’re good at or interested in. When our talents and strengths are highlighted in an environment, we will thrive as we get things done. When we are constantly left out of vital conversations, we will feel irrelevant and as if things are happening to us and not on behalf of us.
Bounce back strategy: Talk to the person in charge and discuss your concerns. Confiding in a trusted and knowledgeable co-worker prior to meeting with your boss will help to make your communication with your boss fair and objective. Keep in mind that there will be some level of compromise but making your boss aware of your viewpoint and feelings is a major step in feeling fulfilled and feeling like a contributing member of your team.
Poor sleep quality
Staying up late at night, tossing and turning, thinking about your day’s work can really affect your sleep quality. Studies have shown that just a few hours of missed sleep is detrimental to our performance and mental capacity.
Bounce back strategy: Try setting a bedtime routine and stick to it. Make sure that your bedroom environment is supportive of a good night sleep. Social media never sleeps and it’s best to cut back or eliminate your social media time about 1 hour before you go to bed. Blue light interferes with your ability to feel sleepy and messes with your sleep cycle. Your electronics can be set to switch to a softer light prior to bedtime.
The thought of work sends you into a tailspin of negative thoughts and body sensations. You wonder will this ever end and the amount of tension in your neck is at an all-time high. The feeling of dread can make you retreat from your daily activities to ruminate on the idea of returning to work. Feelings of dread steals valuable time.
Bounce back strategy: Develop a routine to relax and practice deep breathing. Neck massages at bedtime or therapeutic massages may also help to relax your body and prepare you for the work week ahead. Keep in mind that self-care is a necessity.
You lash out more
You notice that you are short tempered and lash out at your loved ones more than usual. When you are experiencing burn out, you may find yourself less patient about certain things and snapping at your loved ones. You know they don’t deserve this treatment and you want to get this behavior in check so that you can restore the loving supportive environment you are used to having.
Bounce back strategy: Be aware that your loved ones may not understand how your work environment is affecting you. Consider how you would feel if you were the recipient of irritable interactions when you didn’t have the whole picture of what was happening. Take time to explain your situation with your support system. Your love ones are there to support you. They should not be the expert to get your thoughts and feelings in check- neither should they be expected to fulfill this role.
Does the phrase this job is “sucking the life out of me” ring a bell? Mental exhaustion is totally apparent when work has taken its toll on you. Being too tired to do simple house chores or attend events that you once loved is a sign of exhaustion.
Bounce back strategy: Set small goals to take action daily on your priorities. If your priorities include keeping a clean living area or hanging out with your friends once a week, stick to your plans. You will find that your mood is improved and you are not as drained once you are doing things in alignment with your goals and priorities.
Awareness is the first step of knowing what is happening. The next step is taking action based on the specific signs you are displaying. Recovery from burnout may look like identifying the culprit that caused you to burn out so that you can continue making progress in your work. Recovery can also require you to make a strategic exit from your current situation to restore your peace of mind and fully recover—and never look back.