Today, I am happy to bring you a guest article from Taylor Sicard. Taylor serves as the Co-Founder and CMO of Homesick, a hand-poured candle company that offers specialized scents to invoke feelings of nostalgia. Taylor is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and execution of all Homesick marketing and content initiatives. When he is not working or writing, Taylor enjoys spending time with his fiancé and exploring the great outdoors!
The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as “a special type of work-related stress—a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” Burnout is becoming increasingly common, with nearly 40 percent of American workers saying that they’re so burned out they’re ready to take the ultimate step and quit their jobs.
So, how do you know if you’re burned out? Discover eight common signs of burnout, plus tips for what to do about it.
You fantasize about quitting.
It’s common to imagine quitting your job on the occasional bad day. But if you’re thinking about quitting your job every week, or every day, that’s a different situation. If you dream of handing in your notice and taking up a totally new career, ask yourself whether you really want to make such a big change—or if that’s the burnout talking.
You feel cynical, detached and exhausted.
Maybe you liked your job once, but now it just feels like a millstone around your neck. You’re no longer invested in your work and you feel completely detached from it. Nothing you do seems to make things get better, and you’re tired all the time. Sound like you? These are all classic emotional signs of burnout.
Your concentration is non-existent.
Are you normally on top of your stuff, but lately you’ve found yourself forgetting things? Maybe you were late paying a bill, or lost your phone or keys, or missed an important appointment. While an occasional slip-up is totally normal, if you have a string of mistakes or find yourself unable to concentrate on tasks, that can be a symptom of burnout.
You have inexplicable physical symptoms.
Burnout doesn’t just affect you emotionally and mentally. It will negatively impact your physical health as well. Symptoms with no apparent cause may include chronic headaches, stomach problems and general achiness. Constant stress from burnout will also deplete your immune system, making you vulnerable to every bug that goes around the office.
You can’t sleep.
Anxiety over work combined with physical ailments are a perfect recipe to disrupt your sleep. You may find yourself struggling to fall asleep as you dwell on your workday, or wake up in the middle of the night due to stress-related stomach issues. This lack of sleep will further exhaust you and exacerbate the mental and emotional strain you’re under.
You overreact to small situations.
As your burnout worsens over time, you may find yourself experiencing negative emotions that are out of proportion to small incidents. For example, you’ll snap at a coworker who interrupts you or burst into tears when you spill a cup of coffee. This may also leak over into your personal life–for example, you may fight with your partner or lash out at your friends for no good reason.
You dread going to work.
Your lack of motivation may develop into something more severe over time. Rather than feeling unmotivated, you’ll begin to actively dread the idea of going into work. For many people, this feeling peaks on Sunday night as they face down Monday morning and a long work week, a phenomenon sometimes called the “Sunday Scaries.”
Your performance goes down over time.
Burnout accumulates over time, and it can be tough to identify that it’s happening sometimes. If your performance at work has been slowly declining over weeks or months (or even years), that’s a good sign that you’re burning out or already there. However, if you’re very high functioning, you may be experiencing these symptoms internally without it affecting your external performance, so stay in tune with yourself.
So what can you do if you suspect you’re experiencing burnout? Here are some things you can do to manage your symptoms:
- Start a fulfilling hobby outside work. Make sure that it’s something that helps you feel energized and fulfilled instead of draining you again. Get creative: This hobby can take any form, from joining an intramural softball team to taking up knitting.
- Take your relaxation seriously. Me time is non-negotiable when you’re burned out. Light some coconut wax candles and draw a bath, book a professional massage, play your favorite video game—whatever helps you rest and recharge.
- Establish an exercise routine, if you don’t have one already. Exercise will help control your anxiety and improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. Even a few laps around the neighborhood is better than no physical activity at all.
- Sleep as much as you can. While the ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person, most adults need a minimum of eight to 10 hours of sleep at night. Getting enough sleep will also make you more efficient and productive when you’re awake.
- Seek out support from trustworthy people. For some, this may be close coworkers and even a supportive boss. For others, they’ll need to turn to family members, friends and other people outside work to get the encouragement and emotional support they need.
- Set boundaries between your work and non-work lives. Make a commitment to shut off your computer and stop checking your work email when you go home for the night. Protect your weekends and spend the time focusing on yourself, friends and family.
- Make a change if you need to. Sometimes, you try everything you can and the burnout still doesn’t get better. If you’ve done everything you can and you’re still burned out, consider finding a new job or transitioning to a part-time schedule.
Unfortunately, banishing burnout isn’t always as simple as lighting a scented candle—though that can certainly help you feel better in the moment. The best thing you can do is stay aware of yourself and manage your burnout early–before it becomes so severe there’s no solution except to quit. Keep an eye out for these eight signs of burnout.
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