Living for the weekend much?
Wednesday morning and you’re already tired of work, not putting in any effort, and really just not expecting your job to get any better…
You’re well on your way to burning out if you’re not already at that point.
Before you read on, remember this: it’s not ok to push yourself through 5 days just to get some downtime during the weekend.
Weekends were a good idea to begin with. You were expected to put in your regular 8 hours of work for 5 days and then spend time with your family or take care of your hobbies during the rest of the time. The reality of the current workplace situation is that you don’t get to do anything else after you finish work.
Most people just fall into a slump, lie down on their couch, and watch TV for hours. Sure, going to the gym is becoming an increasingly popular activity, but how many of you actually have the energy to put in 1-2 hours of physical activity after work? A shockingly low 18% of gym members actually do this regularly.
Any time left for the weekend for the others? We’re all wasting our weekends running errands and trying to squeeze in some more sleep.
So in 10 years’ time, people will continue to spend the majority of their days at home, stuck in jobs they don’t even like, just because they’ll never get the time and energy to focus on anything on the side. Burnout for life much?
What is job burnout even?
First of all, job burnout is not a myth. It’s real. Very real.
Burnout is a general state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion commonly caused and occurring in work-related situations. The latter include formal environments like the office and being overworked while giving your all for a business you’re starting.
And, get this, it’s not caused simply by stress. Unhappiness is a huge contributing factor many employees are ignoring. This means that in addition to stress caused by workload, responsibilities, or deadlines, burnout can be triggered by other factors they define a person from a professional standpoint: accomplishment, growth, recognition, and flexibility.
Specialists always draw attention to the issues that job burnout can lead to and still, people are working harder and harder until they bump into a health problem or difficult personal life situations and choices. This is usually the point where most hard workers realize they’ve done it all wrong and will commonly make a radical change in their lives.
How to recognize job burnout?
Most of us have been stressed at work at some point. In fact, 94% of employees report experiencing stress to some extent. Not all cases are job burnout prone. But considering that as much as 6% of these employees have hit the “unsustainably high” mark, you’ll need to keep an eye on the symptoms before they get out of control.
There’s this next list I usually share to help you identify how close you are to burning out at work:
- I’m unable to keep up with the deadlines.
- I don’t feel like there’s any point for me to be on the team.
- I can’t create solid relations or a network.
- Nobody recognizes my work.
- I have a strict schedule I need to stick to.
- I’m or was forced to work on something I don’t agree with.
- Nobody cares about my feedback.
- I don’t feel like I’m doing the best I can.
- I’m not motivated.
- I hate my colleagues and I don’t have anything to talk about with them.
- I’m only working to get my wage.
Can’t relate to most of these? You’re in luck and probably at a decent workplace. For any of the things you marked just talk to your employer and see if you can make better arrangements.Does the list perfectly describe your life? Time for a radical change. Starting today. Not tomorrow. Not next month. All of these risk factors can add up and turn into a much more serious condition.In case you’re also experiencing physical signs or you’re just not feeling or sleeping well, consult a psychologist so you can be diagnosed correctly. Anxiety, depression, and other similar difficulties can all be essentially similar and just as serious.
While all of the above burnout symptoms might only look like “common life situations” you’re bound to experience at some point, they can turn into health conditions you won’t be able to brush off anymore:
- Heart disease and high blood pressure (Yes, there are many studies that prove a direct correlation between mind and body illnesses.)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic stress
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Weak immune system
- Alcoholism and addiction to drugs
Is job burnout a disease?
To some extent… hold on tight, yes! And it’s not just burnout at work.
There’s also occupational stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, even long-term problems like substance abuse. The World Health Organization has also added burnout to its list of diseases in 2019, taking a more proactive step towards getting more people and top companies to understand its outcomes.
Also, it can be a contagious disease to some extent. If you’ll go into a workspace where everyone is uber happy, giving their best, and creating customized work schedules to incorporate fun hobbies and time with family and friends, you’ll pretty much be cured of job burnout in a couple of weeks.
These people value their mental health above anything else and their company understands that the employee’s well-being is of top importance. Even if they don’t personally care about their staff, they’ll care about their profit. And sad employees bring in sad profits.
Once you’re surrounded by coworkers who spend all day in their chairs with a grim look on their faces only to go home and do nothing, falling into the same boring routine with nothing exciting happening in their lives… well, you’re doomed too. Honestly, how many of you haven’t worked in such places? The best thing you can do is get out of there soon.
This is why organizations need to put in more effort to guarantee the well-being of their employees. And not just promise this but deliver a healthy work environment (whether in-office or remotely) from the very start.
What can you do?
If you’re not in a desperate rush to get a job and pay your bills, just don’t apply to any company that is not known for its amazing benefits and health policies. Mental health benefits included. Ideally, you can prevent burning out in the future by simply saying no to bad offers no matter how desperate you are for the paycheck.
Know there’s no such thing as work-life balance. Work will always be in your mind. Either because you hate it or you’re just too busy with landing new clients and gigs. There’s absolutely no way you’ll just forget about work when you know you have to deliver a project by Friday or send in a report in two days.
Is vacation a solution? Of course not. You need breaks, but they won’t fully cure you unless you identify and solve the burnout causes first.
Once you’re in the burnout from work zone it’s difficult to disconnect yourself from work as a whole. You’ll always want to answer another email, check on Slack updates… a vicious routine you’re already used to since you’ve been doing it for so many hours. Even worse, when you work remotely (like I do, btw) it’s extra difficult to put an end to work after you’re actually done because your personal life is often in the same environment you do your work.
More than this, you’re constantly stressed and down in the dumps for hundreds of days. You can’t expect 7 or 20 days to magically make you feel better for the rest of the year. You already know those days when you’re just like “I wish I had a free day today.” For no reason. Just to unwind and take care of your mental health. This alone should be a good motivation to slow down every now and then. And more often with time.
You’ll occasionally get advice like “You need to recharge.” 🙄 You can sleep and take breaks all you want, but you shouldn’t lose energy aimlessly in the first place. Here’s where choosing the right career AND workplace comes in.
With the proper activities and goals to work on, you won’t even need to feel like you need some “recharging”. A healthy workplace gets you fully energized, ready to deliver your best results willingly and with minimal effort. All without feeling like you’ll need to take a break.
And remember this: You need to take breaks even when you’re not on the brink of collapsing. Breaks should be meant at doing the things you love most, entertaining yourself, talking to your loved ones, playing with your dog, baking a cake, painting a dozen pictures… Sleep and relaxation are slightly different. I’ll share my story here so you can understand this and maybe you’ll find that it applies to your case too.
I used to work as much as 16-18 hours on most days. I had no such thing as a break. As a person with multiple hobbies and changing interests, I found it very hard to find time for them. Instead, I’d just use my “breaks” to try to sleep, because I wasn’t even sleeping. I was just lying in bed thinking about all the things I have to do.
Ideally, I would have used half of the time I spent working on other things I wanted to do. Because no matter how much you like your job, too much of a good thing is just not healthy. So this again proves my point that breaks are meant to be taken even when you don’t feel like you must or otherwise you’ll crack.
Can you prevent job burnout?
The first thing you need to grasp is that you have to start taking baby steps towards your mental health goals. Something little today, another one tomorrow, and so on towards your target.
From here, you’ve got lots of other options and all will be much easier to undertake than they might seem:
- Talk to a close friend, acquaintance, or psychologist. This won’t fix your concerns but it sure helps to have someone to talk to and get a few ideas from. Burnout recovery can be though. Nothing to hide here. So having someone to trust and lean on can be a huge push.
- You know how budgeting experts tell you to save money before you spend it? Same goes for free time. Create downtime before you find yourself putting in 10+ hours of work each day.
- This being said, incorporate more of the activities you like into your schedule. Working out, drawing, gardening, or just taking a walk every day (I do this regularly for 1-2 hours now even when the weather’s not the best).
- Prioritize sleep. I’m sure you all feel awful and not in the mood for anything when you get even 2 hours of less sleep. As a fan of sleep, I’ve researched this topic quite often and all I can say to convince you to place sleep at the center of your priorities is that I (someone who can’t function without the holy 8 hours of sleep) and lots of researchers believe that sleep should be the #1 thing you need to take care of.
- Mindfulness. I honestly haven’t tested this, but studies do show it can help so it’s worth trying. Instead, I’ve been meditating a lot and this has helped me put my thoughts in order and understand what my exact needs are. Meditation has given me time to just take 30 minutes each day to focus on myself and nothing else.
- Find your purpose and craft your career around this. This applies even if you’re contemplating a career change. We’ve always been advised to “choose a job we love”. But how many people actually do this? Well, it’s time you did.
If all of the above have been of at least some help to you, try crafting your future life plan right now. Don’t postpone a change you know will turn your life in a better direction.
You’re in control of everything and if you put your mind to it, you’ll certainly achieve your top life goals. Make sure you won’t ever get derailed or lose track of how important your own well-being is.
Got any tips for people who are struggling with job burnout? Leave us a comment below and spread the happy!
Alexandra Cote is a B2B content writer and strategist with a passion for content marketing, social media marketing wonders, and artificial intelligence. She’s also a strong supporter of staying happy at work and choosing a career path that’s healthy for people’s well-being. Reach out to her via LinkedIn, Twitter or her blog.