If you’re perpetually exhausted, annoyed, and feeling unaccomplished and unappreciated, you’re probably burned-out. “Burnout” is now an official medical diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization. Ignored or unaddressed burn out can have harsh consequences such as fatigue, insomnia, irritability, alcohol/substance misuse, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, and Type 2 Diabetes. The Areas of Worklife model (drawn from research by Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter) identifies six areas where you could experience imbalances that lead to burnout:
1. Perceived lack of control. Feeling like you lack autonomy, access to resources, and a say in decisions that impact your professional life can take a toll on your well-being. If you find yourself feeling out of control, step back and ask yourself, “What exactly is causing me to feel this way?” For instance, does your boss contact you at all hours of the day and night? Are the priorities within your workplace constantly shifting so you can never get ahead? Or do you simply not have enough predictability in terms of your physical or people resources to effectively perform your job?
2. Workload. When you have a workload that matches your capacity, you can effectively get your work done, have opportunities for rest and recovery, and find time for professional growth and development. When you chronically feel overloaded, these opportunities to restore balance don’t exist.
3. Reward. If the intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount of effort and time you put into them, then you’re likely to feel like the investment is not worth the payoff.
4. Community. Who do you work with or around? How supportive and trusting are those relationships? In many cases you can’t choose your colleagues and clients, but you can improve the dynamic.
5. Fairness. Think about whether you believe that you receive fair and equitable treatment. For example, do you get acknowledged for your contributions, or do other individuals get praised and your work goes unnoticed? Does someone else get regular deadline extensions or access to additional resources when you don’t? Are you compared to others doing a different job?
6. Values mismatch. If you highly value something that your company does not, your motivation to work hard and persevere can significantly drop. When you’re assessing this element of burnout, you need to think carefully about how important it is to you to match your values with those of the organization. Also, consider whether the leaders in your company have shifted their values. Look around you and ask yourself: How does my boss, my team, and my organization make decisions and invest resources? Do I feel good about those underlying motivations? Do they seem open to change?
Tips to Combat Burnout
Burnout isn’t simply about being tired. It’s a multifaceted issue that requires a multifaceted solution. Mayoclinic.org has tips on how you can combat job burnout:
- Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions.
- Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.
- Try a relaxing activity. Explore programs that can help with stress such as yoga, meditation or Tai Chi.
- Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also take your mind off work.
- Get some sleep. Sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.
- 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.
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