Are you headed for career burnout? The symptoms and how to beat it - SEEK Career Advice

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Are you headed for career burnout? The symptoms and how to beat it

Are you headed for career burnout? The symptoms and how to beat it

Struggling to sleep or having difficulty waking up in the morning? Feeling like there’s no point to what you do, or generally experiencing low mood and lack of interest in your work? It may be career burnout at play.

There is a certain amount of work-related stress in most of our lives, but this is a normal reaction to factors such as occasional stressful deadlines or an unusually heavy workload. Career burnout is a more serious type of chronic job stress, leaving you physically and mentally exhausted, and questioning both the work you're doing and your ability to perform, says Alex Kingsmill, Life and Career Coach at Upstairs Coaching.

Career burnout usually creeps in quite insidiously; slowly but surely over time, and Kingsmill says the very nature of career burnout can make it physically and mentally difficult to draw up the required energy needed to address it.

She says those suffering burnout may experience one or more of the following:  

  • Depletion: struggling to get to work, feeling drained, lacking energy and focus, not sleeping well and becoming sick.
  • Detachment: not enjoying your work anymore, being critical and cranky with the people around you, feeling pessimistic and isolating yourself.
  • Ineffective: feeling apathetic, being less productive, becoming snowed under and missing a sense of satisfaction.

Career burnout usually creeps in quite insidiously; slowly but surely over time, and Kingsmill says the very nature of career burnout can make it physically and mentally difficult to draw up the required energy needed to address it.

“Over time, you may become increasingly tired and sick, depressed and anxious, and overwhelmed and unable to effect positive change,” she says.

Common causes of burnout:
While each person’s experience is individual, there are common causes of burnout. Alex says these may include:

  • Feeling under-resourced
  • Feeling inadequately qualified or skilled
  • Juggling work and home demands
  • Fear you are not contributing
  • Unreasonable or unpleasant management or co-workers

Six ways to work through career burnout:
Kingsmill says a series of small changes can encourage positive shifts and won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. Here’s how she recommends dealing with burnout:

  1. Identify the source of your burnout.
    Work out where your stress is actually coming from, creating a catalogue and identify one thing you can do, this week, to address the pressure against each item. “For example, speak to management about taking on additional staff, research available training options, explore the possibility of working from home one day a week, or collaborate with your manager to identify clear goals and actions for yourself,” she suggests.
     
  2. Seek help.
     Keeping your experiences stuffed inside will make everything worse and limit your opportunities for recovery. “Identify a trusted supervisor and speak to them about what you're experiencing, make use of Employee Assistance Programs, choose a sympathetic friend and have a chat.” Sometimes simply voicing your feelings can offer some relief.
     
  3. Set boundaries.
     Burnout can lead to a crushing sense of overwhelm, so as you're getting back on track, consciously set boundaries and commit to saying ‘no’ to any additional demands made of you.
     
  4. Find joy outside of work.
     It might be a good coffee in the sun, a podcast on the train, fresh flowers on your windowsill, or even a regular lunch date with a friend. “Consciously choosing positive emotion will enhance wellbeing and reinstate a critical sense of autonomy.”
     
  5. Turn off.
    Screens can drain huge amounts of time and energy. While you're actively recovering from career burnout, try limiting your screen time as much as possible.
     
  6. Take care of your health.
    Sleeping, eating and exercising well is important for mental and physical wellbeing, especially during times – ironically - when healthy habits tend to slip, compounding the original stress and impeding recovery.

It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed by career burnout, but it doesn’t need to be difficult to tackle – sort out where it is coming from and make plans to tackle it in a series of small changes. Remember, you don’t have to tackle it alone, and you may find yourself drawing the conclusion that it’s time for a change of workplace – or career!

http://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/are-you-headed-for-career-burnout-the-symptoms-and-how-to-beat-it