Are you burning out?

Do you dread getting out of bed and going to work? When you get there do you coast along unenthusiastically, doing the bare minimum for your boss or clients, yet at the end of the working day still feel drained?

If this emotional exhaustion sounds familiar, you may be experiencing job burnout. Signs of burnout are a loss of the desire to work and a feeling of being trapped in an unwinnable situation. No one is immune. Anybody, in any profession, at any level, can suffer from these symptoms.

Job burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with small warning signals. If unheeded, these feelings can get worse until you dread going to work. Burnout also tends to spread to all aspects of your life. It is rare to find a person who is feeling burnt out at work, yet enthusiastic at home. Before this happens to you, try to take some control over the situation:

SYMPTOM: Loss of motivation. Motivation is like fire: it gets hotter when it's fanned by forces that feed it. But without nourishment, it diminishes and you stop performing to the best of your ability. This leaves you feeling that your work is meaningless.

CURE: Learn self-management. Manage your motivation to get yourself moving and to keep the momentum going. Take on a project you feel enthusiastic about. Set a goal for yourself - this will provide you with a target, instead of leaving you feeling as if you're going around in circles. Give yourself rewards for work you’ve done well.


SYMPTOM: Demoralising work situation. A lack of clarity about your role, a critical boss, lack of recognition, tasks without end or being overloaded with work will make you feel angry or frustrated. You may also begin to feel that you can't be bothered with people or that you're an outsider.

CURE: Know what is expected of you. Know what the scope of your job is, what direction you are expected to go in, how your function fits with your organisation’s goals, and what those goals are. If necessary, arrange a review with your boss to get your questions answered.

SYMPTOM: Physical breakdown. Common signs of burnout are health problems (especially headaches and backaches), negative emotions and an over-reliance on alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

CURE: Make an effort to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, some daily exercise (even a walk at lunchtime will do), and fresh air. Keep in contact with your friends, and don't stay in or become unsociable. See your GP for a check-up if necessary.


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