Healthy Manager: Four Signs of Burnout and How to Handle Them

We all get the overall idea of and understand that burnout can persist for longer than a week or two.

But it can still be challenging to turn the magnifying glass on yourself and recognize when you might be veering straight toward feeling burnt out at work.

If constant stress and heavy workloads have you feeling helpless, disenchanted, and completely exhausted, you may be on the road to burnout.

What is burnout?

To treat burnout, it’s vital that we truly understand what it is.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t always been one centralized definition of burnout to help us understand. However, the World Health Organization recently announced a more updated and detailed characterization of burnout. Previously defined only as a “state of vital exhaustion,” it’s now classified as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The WHO stresses that burnout is specifically work-related and “should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” And that burnout is characterized by the following:

  • A sense of exhaustion or depletion.
  • Mental distance from or negativity or cynicism about work.
  • Decreased effectiveness at work.

And these are just the significant indicators. Let’s explore the other signs of burnout and how we can handle them.

[Need some tips on creating a better work-life balance? Click here!]

You don’t get excited. 

One of the most indicative signs of burnout is a lack of interest or enthusiasm about what you’re doing. Put simply, if you’re struggling to gather up even the slightest shred of enthusiasm for things that used to excite you, that’s a red flag not just for burnout but for depression.

Your performance is suffering.

Disinterest in daily tasks can often lead to unsatisfactory performances at work, usually because people who are burnt out just don’t care enough to do things well.

When over-achievers who are typically compulsive about double-checking and meeting deadlines start to submit subpar work or miss deadlines, that’s a giveaway for burnout.

You are exhausted.

Fatigue and an overall feeling of exhaustion are common symptoms of burnout. You’ll not only deal with a lack of energy physically, but you can also feel emotionally depleted and drained.

So, if getting yourself out of bed and to the office each day is a more demanding challenge than usual, you are probably entering into the burnout zone.

You have physical ailments.

Burnout doesn’t have a consistent physical manifestation for everyone. However, similarly to depression, numerous physical complaints have been reported with burnout, including:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Increased illness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Dizziness or fainting

If you’re experiencing these issues along with the emotional changes discussed above, they might serve as an indicator of your burnt-out state.

How to treat burnout.

So you recognize yourself in some of these symptoms, now what? Instead of merely pressing pause and removing yourself from your situation with a few days, you need to do something to change it actively. Some of those things include:

  • Change your workload – Burnout can happen when you have too much on your plate. In those cases, you need to decrease your volume. Approach your boss to have an honest conversation with them about the fact that you feel overworked. Together you can identify ways that you can manage a more reasonable workload.
  • Change your attitude – Learn to recognize negative habits and thought patterns and work to stop them when they happen. Learn to manage expectations of yourself and encourage positive thinking.
  • Talk to someone – Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends, or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.
  • Support mood and energy levels with a quality diet – What you put into your body has a considerable impact on your mood and energy levels. Minimize sugar, reduce caffeine intake, and more Omega-3’s to give yourself a mood boost.

While working in the medical field can be rewarding, it is highly demanding. If you are showing signs of burnout, it’s time to implement some changes. Start by following these tips and focus on healing.

After all, you cannot treat others if you do not take care of yourself first!

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