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How to Deal With Burnout at Work

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: August 10, 2015

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Your body and mind functions in a very similar way to that of a car engine, and like a car it requires some maintenance every now and then to keep it on the road.

If you are not careful, neglecting your body and mind over a prolonged period of time will eventually leave you tired, spent and at a standstill.

Working yourself into the ground will ultimately leave you feeling lethargic, disengaged and burnt out. Although prevention is the best cure for a career burn out there are some techniques you can use to get your body and mind back in working shape and ensure it has the necessary fuel to keep you moving forward.

What is burn out?

More and more professionals are experiencing symptoms of burn out. The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard describes it as "as extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance." Spotting the signs early is a helpful way to ensure that you take the necessary steps so you can do something about it.

Signs you are burning out

  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Frustration
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor job performance
  • Problems connecting and communicating with others
  • Failure to take care of yourself
  • Preoccupied with work out of the office
  • Health problems related to stress and tiredness

If you are experiencing one or many of these symptoms it is important that you take the necessary steps to put your mind and body back on the right path. Not only will this make you happier and healthier, it will also make you more productive at work.

How to combat burnout

Take your down time seriously

Whether you like to do yoga, take a walk or do some sort of physical activity, ensure that you carve out some time to relax in they way that works for you. Relaxing helps repair the mind and the body. Nobody can function at full capacity forever, it's important to take your down time seriously.

Cultivate a rich non-working life

Ensure that you have something outside of work that keeps you engaged and fulfilled. Work is a part of life but it is not your life alone. Take up a hobby or challenge yourself in a way that puts your life, loves and interests in perspective. When work isn’t your sole focus 100% of the time it's easier to switch off and then back on again when the time requires you to.

Unplug, log out, switch off

Whilst the technology that surrounds us every day enables us to do more and more on the go and from remote locations, it is also responsible for placing us in a constantly connected state of mind. You may not be aware of it but this runs the mind and body down. Ensure that you take time to be free of the ties that bind you to the goings on in the office.

Sleep and then sleep some more

Sleep is important for recharging the batteries. Research suggests that getting fewer than six hours sleep a night increases the chances of burn out. Set yourself a bedtime that ensures you get the rest you need to function properly and you will feel healthier and better able to deal with the problems life and work throws your way.

Get your ducks in order

Organisation helps put problems in perspective. If you are feeling out of control with a seemingly insurmountable mountain to climb in front of you then break the problems down. Pay those bills that have been nagging you, tidy the desk so you know where everything is. It’s the simple things that help.

Keep attuned

Look out for signs of burn out early. Are you getting tight shoulders, a stiff neck and headaches? Are you feeling tired in the afternoon? Its important to question these regularly to combat the early warning signs before they become a full on burn out.

Know when to ask for help

You cannot always solve everything on your own. Ask friends and family to help if you feel like things are getting too much as they may be able to help you refocus. Alternatively talk through some of the problems with your line manager; they may be more understanding than you think.

Know when it is time to make a bigger change

If you think you are experiencing a full on burn out and have taken steps to combat the symptoms but still feel trapped and lethargic it may be time to take a bigger step. Maybe it's time for a career change to something that will re-engage and re-focus your mind and give you some breathing space to reassess.

Taking control of your life, ensuring it’s a happy one and staving off the dreaded burn out comes down to knowing when to make the small changes and having the courage to make the big ones when the time comes.



Yvette has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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