Dealing With Work Burnout

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in Career Management | 10 comments

I’m burned out. I’m exhausted, disillusioned, irritable, and depressed- all symptoms of job burnout. Here I am, writing a blog about work-life balance and my life is out of balance. How did I get here? How do I get out?

What I’ve learned from my experience with job burnout was surprising to me. I was doing all the right things to avoid job burnout. I rarely work more than 40 hours per week, I get 7-8 hours sleep every night, I take breaks, I do yoga, I go for walks every day, I practice mindfulness, I’m generally happy. Again I ask, how did I get here?

Burnout isn’t just the result of working too much. My job burnout was influenced by several factors including lack of support, lack of appreciation, mismatch with organizational values, and poor job fit.

I was in such an extreme state of chronic exhaustion I became concerned about my health, but checked out fine medically.

I found an online burnout self-test from Mind Tools and scored 66 out of 75, achieving the test result: You may be at very severe risk of burnout – do something about this urgently. “No kidding,” I thought to myself.

Despite doing all the right things to take care of myself, asking for support, and maintaining a positive attitude I couldn’t mitigate the burnout. And, let’s be honest, I wasn’t doing my best work in this situation despite working harder and harder.

Ultimately my only option to reclaim work-life balance was to resign my position, and that’s what I did.

Through this experience I learned there are many causes of burnout- some obvious and others that are less obvious. While I needed to change my situation to find relief, my efforts to manage stress did help minimize the long term effects of burnout. I was better positioned to evaluate my options and promptly make the right choices for my health and well-being.

Work SOS

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Causes of Job Burnout

Lack of control

While there are many factors you can’t control in your job and in life, being unable to control, or at least influence, details of your day-to-day activities is frustrating and becomes increasingly stressful over time.

Lack of support

To succeed in your work you need basic resources such as training and functioning office equipment to do your job. You also need information about management and organizational goals, policies, and direction. Without support you are unable to be effective in your work and you may suffer burnout.

Lack of appreciation

Receiving a paycheck is effective motivation but most employees need more than monetary rewards to stay motivated- you need positive, encouraging, and thoughtful feedback.

Work values mismatch

Everyone has work values, such as helping society, making money, having the opportunity to express creativity, having flexible work hours, or having a set schedule. When your personal work values are a mismatch with the organization culture you feel dissatisfied and this mismatch can lead to burnout.

Lack of stress management

We all experience a reasonable amount of stress that can be managed through tools such as communication, self-care, and setting boundaries.  If you lack the skills to manage stress, you’re likely to get burned out at work.

External pressure and stress

Managers have a significant influence on the work experience of their employees. Some examples of managers that apply significant external pressure and stress are bosses that micro-manage, are overly demanding, or bosses that are demeaning.

Unreasonable expectations

If your boss has unreasonable expectations or is unclear about his expectations it will cause stress. You may also have unrealistic expectations of yourself, your boss, and your organization. Unreasonable expectations  may lead to burnout.

Poor job fit

Job satisfaction is significantly influenced by our day-to-day activities as much as factors like our organizational culture and management style. A good job fit is found when your daily work activities match your skills and interests.

How to Avoid Job Burnout

Do your best and forget the rest

Do your part to do a good job and let go of the aspects you can’t control. When you obsess over factors out of your control you create stress in your life. When you focus on the things you can control you’re more likely to experience personal and professional satisfaction.

Ask for what you need

You may think your boss knows what training or equipment you need to do your job effectively, and surely effective managers possess this information. It’s possible, however, your boss may lack the training he or she needs to be an effective manager. Ask for what you need and you’re more likely to get it than if you keep it to yourself and seethe quietly in resentment.

Handle feedback professionally

If you’re not getting the feedback you need, ask for it! If you are getting feedback and it’s all negative, look for ways to understand the feedback, use it to your advantage, and make improvements. If you continue to receive only negative feedback, it may be time to move on.

Manage stress

Find ways to manage your stress such as setting boundaries, taking breaks, getting a good night’s sleep every night, saying no, and recharging your batteries.

Improve work-life balance

Work-life balance isn’t just about the quantity of time you spend at work versus home, it’s about the quality of your time. Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t.

Pursue other opportunities

When your job isn’t a good fit, or your work values don’t match that of your organization, you may need to pursue opportunities in another department, or another organization.

Job burnout is a serious condition that can lead to health problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, obesity, heart disease, and more. If you’re at risk for burnout, reassess your situation and take whatever steps are necessary to take care of you!

If you’re suffering from burnout, take the career and personal assessments with a free jobZology™ account. These assessments will help you identify your work values, interests, personality, and workplace preferences to help you find a better career and culture fit.

 

10 Comments

  1. Very interesting post.
    I will release soon an article about a person who got a burnout and who took this as an opportunity to change his life and perform a professional retraining.
    Julien

    • Thanks for your comment, Julien! I’m glad you stopped by!

      I love the example you shared about the person you know that used burnout as an opportunity to do something positive and productive with his professional life. So often we feel stuck by our circumstances but we always have options and always have opportunities.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  2. I know what you mean about burnout. I’m experiencing it now within my own job and it’s just so stressful. Literally dragging myself out of bed, angry on the way to work, wanting to go home as soon as I get to work difficult people, difficult boss, loss of temper, loss of control, boring, repetitive, losing money, constant change of management. I could go on… it’s actually draining.

    My solution is to apply for new jobs in a whole different sector that I wish to take my career in. To be honest my job is a dead end and the promotion I was promised ended up having me walking around with a knife in my back. The same manager that was pushing for my promotion was the same one who went and told other people that I didn’t care about my job. Despite the fact that I had other things on my mind.

    Seriously this is just burnout at it’s worse for me. I’m at like code red, abort mission. Lol

    • Thanks for your comment, Shay!

      I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing job burnout right now. I hope you are finding at least some small ways to take care of yourself right now!

      Good luck finding a new job in a different sector! Often we can take a situation that isn’t working out and use it as the motivation to try something different and that’s exactly what I did with my job situation. I took the leap from full time employment to part time employment and started writing a second blog. So far it’s working out great! I hope it works out just as good for you.

      Take care of yourself!

      Chrysta

  3. You’ll also find that your coworkers are more comfortable talking about job burnout in the past tense.

    • Thanks for your comment, Gayle!

      It’s so true- when we’re in the midst of the situation there’s fear and hesitation to call it what it is. When we reflect on the past it’s easier to call it what it is.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. I sure could have used your knowledge back when I was in corporate America Chrysta.

    I always use to tell myself if I ever became really unhappy with where I was then it was time to find another job. Most of the time it was the job itself. Not feeling satisfied with it or doing the same thing and never getting an opportunity to move up. You know how that stuff goes.

    It was only with my last position that it was more the people then the job itself. I’ve always gotten along with everyone but then you have those that are just lazy and don’t want to work. Those are the ones it’s hard to deal with on a daily basis.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that but I’m glad you realized what it was and did something about it. See, most people would remain stuck in that same old job doing that same old thing no matter what. Not you!

    Glad you’re able to share with everyone else how they don’t have to either. Way to go Chrysta!

    ~Adrienne

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne!

      I think burnout is a major risk of corporate jobs as too many companies focus on doing more with less and push employees to do more more more. It’s all too easy to convince ourselves we don’t have any choice in the matter- that we need a job even at the cost of our own health and well-being. But is the paycheck and benefits really worth loosing ourselves in work? I think not! Better to move on if there’s truly nothing that can be done to better a burnout work situation.

      I’m happy both of us are in more empowering, positive, and flexible professional situations today. As scary as it can be to leave a corporate job, it’s often better for us in the long run! :)

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. I`m sorry to read about your burnout at work, and that you felt like you had to resign, but it´s so important to look after one`s mental health, so I salute you for doing what right for you!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment!

      Dealing with burnout was not very fun but the important thing is I took the necessary steps to take care of myself not just for my mental health- for my physical health, too.

      I appreciate your encouragement! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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