By Amanda Crawford
Be honest with yourself- have you felt increasingly drained lately? Did you find it hard to concentrate? Do you struggle to get to work in the morning? Do these signs apply to you?
Sometimes these signs are the result of other sources of stress in your life. Others, especially signs like being fatigued and irritable, can just be the result of a bad night’s sleep. But if multiple of these signs apply to you, or you always feel this way, you might be experiencing workplace burnout. Burnout is a psychological term used to describe the complete exhaustion one feels when experiencing prolonged stress and difficulty.
Burnout rates have steadily risen over the past decade, but the rates shot up over the past year. A survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America (MHA) reported that 75% of workers have experienced burnout, and 40% of those polled said it was a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The increase in Burnout shouldn’t be taken lightly by employees or employers. Burnout has been proven to increase rates of mental and physical health issues, deteriorate professional relationships, and decrease job productivity and employee retention. When burnout reaches its zenith, it negatively impacts all aspects of life. Because of this, it’s essential to address it as soon as possible. You can start by identifying what stage of burnout you are experiencing.
5 Stages of Burnout
The five stages of burnout are developed from a 1981 study on occupational stress by researchers Veninga and Spradley. The stages are meant to be used as a helpful tool, not a formal diagnosis.
The aptly-named Honeymoon stage is used to describe the initial feelings of excitement and optimism upon starting a new job. You’re gone through countless interviews and submitted even more applications, and you finally have a new position to show for it! It is possible for the Honeymoon stage to continue indefinitely, but that is not the case for the majority of workplaces.
- High Job Satisfaction
Stage 2-Balancing Act
Stage 2 is defined by increased stress and recognition of challenges within a job. Stage 2 is the best time to start addressing burnout before it worsens. If you can handle the occasional stress and maintain strong productivity and good health, you can mitigate burnout before it develops. Just make sure to keep a watchful eye over your stress level, and consider adopting some new habits to manage your burnout potential.
- Job dissatisfaction
- Inefficient Work- purposeful or accidental
- Fatigue (general fatigue, often accompanied by deep muscle fatigue)
- Sleep disruption
Stage 3-Chronic Stress
Stage 3 is where the stress level and resulting behaviors of Stage 2 become frequent patterns. If you are always stressed at work, purposefully neglecting work that you are unable to complete, working beyond standard hours, and struggling with mental, physical, or emotional health, you may be in stage 3.
- Chronic Exhaustion
- Physical Illness
- Mental Frustration
Stage Four is where Burnout becomes official. At this point, stress is impacting multiple aspects of your life. You struggle connecting with others in and out of work and experience aspects of anxiety or depression. This stage can be challenging to rebound from, as your perception of work is overwhelmingly negative, and escape feels like the only option.
- Physical symptoms intensify and/or increase in the number of symptoms
- Obsessing about work frustrations
- Pessimism and self-doubt dominate thinking
- Escapist Mentality
Burnout is so embedded in your life that the symptoms of burnout have become larger issues than the initial stress. Rather than moments or patterns of stress, you experience chronic issues.
- Burnout syndrome
- Chronic mental fatigue
- Chronic physical fatigue
Ways to Combat Burnout
If you’ve identified with any of the later stages, or want to prevent burnout progression, there are a variety of steps you can take. Serious issues may require professional help, but there are a multitude of ways to alleviate burnout on your own.
Leslie Kalk, a restaurant and hospitality coach, recommends evaluating your priorities in life. She says that making a list of non-work aspects of your life- friends, family, community organizations, churches, etc., can help you expand beyond work. “Once a week, pick one of these non-work-related items and spend the week being deliberate about giving it the attention it deserves. When you’re at work, you’re immersed in work, so give the same attention to spending time with friends, for example. Really be there with them; don’t let yourself get distracted away from letting your friends’ company restore you.”
Reset Work Habits
People often avoid discussing issues with supervisors for the fear of being reprimanded. But being upfront about burnout can help allocate your burden, and keeps your manager aware of potential burnout. Ask to schedule a meeting with your supervisor, where you can discuss your concerns and come up with solutions together. Maybe you need more support with a project, or to re-order the timeline for when daily tasks are accomplished. It’s always best to communicate and take early action to address a problem at work.
Stress Relief Activities
When you’re already dealing with burnout, the last thing you want is additional stressors in your life. It’s important to prioritize your health and wellbeing all the time, but especially when you are going through stressful events. Otherwise, you can fall into a negative cycle, such as
Stress Makes it Hard to Fall Asleep> Lack of Sleep Increases Stress> Increased Stress Makes it Hard to Fall Asleep.
Try to adopt a new healthy choice- be that regular exercise, yoga or Tai Chi, or just walking around. Physical exercise makes it easier to fall asleep, has a wide variety of health benefits, and takes your mind off work.
Burnout may be serious, but it’s not incurable. Taking the time to adjust your workload, reach out to others, and make healthier choices can all have a significant impact on your health. But if you are completely burnt out or unable to adjust your workload, it may be time to give Arrow Staffing a call to talk about new job opportunities.