In today’s hypercompetitive business world, employees are constantly pushed to work harder, complete tasks more rapidly, and (everyone’s favorite) do more with less. This may result in a healthier bottom line, but it can be extremely unhealthy for the people who are doing the work. In today’s post, we talk about the impact of job-related stress and how to recover from burnout.
What Is Burnout?
Before we begin to explore how to recover from burnout, let’s take a moment to quickly discuss what the word means.
Burnout is a term that first appeared in the early 1970s to describe a series of mental and physical symptoms that result from prolonged exposure to occupational stress. Burnout is characterized by physical and mental exhaustion, diminished motivation, and a sense of being overwhelmed.
Burnout is not a mental health condition, but many of the signs, symptoms, and effects of burnout are similar to those of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.
According to a 2017 research report in the peer-reviewed journal SAGE Open, burnout is “one of the most widely discussed mental health problems in today’s society.” However, even though burnout is far from uncommon, healthcare professionals and social scientists have yet to establish a universally agreed-upon definition for the phenomenon.
Signs of Burnout
Perhaps the best way to describe burnout is to discuss what it feels like. Here are some examples of experiences that may indicate that you’re struggling with burnout:
- Lack of motivation: While you were once enthusiastic about your job, you now sometimes find it difficult to even get out of bed and go to work.
- Physical and emotional exhaustion: At the end of the day, you are simply wiped out. No matter how much rest you get, you can’t seem to get your energy or mental clarity back.
- Anger and irritability: You have begun to overreact when you encounter minor problems or are confronted with temporary setbacks.
- Cynicism and dissatisfaction: You find it difficult to be optimistic about new opportunities – and no matter how much you or your team accomplishes, you don’t feel any sense of pride or satisfaction.
- No sense of purpose: You have ceased to find any underlying value or purpose in your work. When you start work in the morning, your goal is simply to get to the end of the day.
- Sense of being trapped and defeated: You feel like you are stuck in your current role, with no opportunity of either moving up in your organization or finding a better job elsewhere.
- Loss of hope: You simply don’t see how anything can get any better, and you feel powerless to make meaningful changes in your life.
How to Recover From Burnout
There is no universal “how to recover from burnout” blueprint that works for everyone. But here are four suggestions that can put you on the right path:
Identify Your Priorities
When the effort you are expending doesn’t equal the results (or rewards) you are receiving, that’s a recipe for burnout. One way to regain a sense of balance is to spend some time determining what parts of your life are most important to you. Here are some questions to consider:
- What are your values?
- What are your goals, hopes, and dreams?
- What would your ideal job look like?
- Who are the most significant people in your life?
- What is one positive change that you can make this week? This month? This year?
When you have identified what your priorities are, you can begin to shift your focus to make sure you’re putting your efforts in the direction that will be most beneficial to you.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries aren’t always easy to establish, but they are important parts of learning how to recover from burnout. Here are some valuable ways to start:
- Be willing to say “no” when you’re given more work than you can handle. If your supervisor insists, ask them to identify which current projects can be put on the back burner while you focus on the new priority.
- Don’t feel like you always have to volunteer to take on extra assignments or responsibilities.
- Let your colleagues know that you will not be checking your work email in the evenings and on the weekends.
- Avoid consistently staying late or bringing work home with you.
Self-care can take many forms, including:
- Scheduling time to walk, bike, or do some other type of exercise every day
- Making a point to include more nutritious foods in your diet
- Taking an art class, learning how to do woodworking, or picking up another creative hobby
- Volunteering in an area that you feel has value and meaning, such as helping out at an animal shelter or collecting food donations for the less fortunate
- Starting a gratitude journal, and committing to write down at least one thing every day that brought you joy or reminded you to be thankful
- Meditating, practicing yoga, and incorporating mindfulness into your daily life
- Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media
Perhaps most importantly, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same level of understanding and compassion that you extend to friends and family members.
Get Professional Help
We mentioned earlier that the symptoms of burnout can be similar to anxiety, depression, and certain other mental health concerns. Sometimes, that’s because, in addition to dealing with burnout, you’re also struggling with a mental health disorder.
If nothing that you’ve tried has helped you to overcome burnout, it may be time to talk to a professional. Your options in this area can range from scheduling a session with a counselor to enrolling in a residential program. To start with, you may want to consult with a healthcare provider who can assess your needs and make an appropriate recommendation or referral.
Remember: You should never feel guilty or ashamed about getting help when you need it. Reaching out to a professional is proof that you still have hope for a brighter tomorrow and the courage to do what it takes to improve your life.
Find Mental Health Treatment in Nashville, TN
Arbor Wellness is a premier provider of quality care for adults whose lives have been disrupted by anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. Treatment options at our center in Nashville include a residential program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). At every level of care, you can expect to receive customized services from a team of skilled and compassionate professionals. With our help, you can recover from burnout and learn to manage any other symptoms that have been preventing you from living a healthier and more hopeful life. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, visit our admissions page or call us today.