It is a mental game that we all play every day of our lives. These words are often paired with behaviors: Apathetic attitude, depressed affect, missing work, increased sick time, difficulty focusing, decreased work effectiveness.
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I experience feelings of apathy and lack of focus for long periods of time. I get overwhelmed. I lose perspective. I have to work through it. Contain your energy. Get out of as many standing meetings as possible.
What is burnout?
I am an introvert by nature and How not to burn out on options fantasize about sitting on a comfy chair with a puffy blanket and a space heater. I have learned to fake extroversion so well that people are often surprised when I tell them I prefer to be alone.
That said, being a fake extrovert takes an emotional toll on me over time.
Sometimes it is my office. Sometimes it is my bed or my couch. Sometimes it is a table at a coffee shop. Either way, I need to be alone so I can mentally self-soothe. If there is a space heater and a blanket…even better. Let others serve you and take care of you.
For me, I take this literally and I go to restaurants by myself all the time. In my ideal world, I would eat out every meal of the day.
I find cooking a messy waste of time. It is a simple act of service that is one of my primary love languages. Work to regain control.
It happens to me frequently and each time it does I have to step out of the workflow, re-stack my papers and my thoughts, and then start again. I like the challenge of taking back control and even during my lowest points, I still feel competitive. Take short trips frequently.
I see people that are feeling overwhelmed try to combat it with a long vacation. A long vacation can actually make you feel more stressed and more underwater. You have to prep beforehand and come back to a mountain of work afterwards. Instead, take lots of mini-vacations. Go out of town every weekend for a month. Go stay in a hotel for one night, even if it is in the same town.
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Take Fridays off for several weeks in a row. Remember it is a mental game.
Sometimes work and play are kind of the same thing, especially if you like your work. Had a Baby? Got married?
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- This means that, on average, burnt out employees outnumber the engaged employees 2 to 1.
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Got a Divorce? Lean into the work during times of stress, not out of it. During some of the most challenging times of my life — the passing of my mother, the birth of my children — is when I depended on work to see me through. Sometimes the emotions of our personal lives can be so profound that work can be your strong and gentle anchor. It is where I feel strong and capable, even when the rest of my life feels out of control.
Work reminds me I will be ok and it keeps me in a routine admist chaos.
Think to the Future
That routine can be your saving grace when everything else is spinning. Make a choice and how not to burn out on options. Commitment takes persistence. Choosing a long-term career is kind of like choosing to get married. There are peaks and valleys.
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There are times of passion and then times of stress. Be careful not to leave your career during a low point just like you would be careful not to leave your spouse during a time of low chemistry. It will get better — some things just take time to get back in alignment.
Choose a place you can work on your rough edges and see it through. You made a choice.
Choose to be happy in your choice. Connect with your co-workers. They are your work BFFs, remember? There is a lot of satisfaction in having strong emotional relationships at work. Most of my closest personal friends started as work friends. Working well with someone else towards a common goal is a powerful experience — one you tend to only get on sports teams or in the office.
Act as if. Words matter and if you talk about how you are overwhelmed all the time you will be just that. Change the words of your story and your life will reflect your story.
Speak about your capabilities and your action plan to solve the problems. If you are stuck, then at least be honest…. There is a difference.
May make life seem not worth living. Causes of burnout Burnout often stems from your job. But burnout is not caused solely by stressful work or too many responsibilities.
Own the difference if nothing else.