How to Deal With Workplace Burnout
ThereРІР‚в„ўs this story psychologists tell that goes like this:Р’В YouРІР‚в„ўre on a riverbank. A drowning person comes drifting by, so you jump in and save him. Another comes flailing along. Same thing. Then five more. Ten more. You and dozens of other Good Samaritans are frantically rescuing them. They keep coming. YouРІР‚в„ўre losing your ability and your motivation now. YouРІР‚в„ўre burning out on saving people. Suddenly somebody starts running upstream. РІР‚СљWhere are you going?РІР‚Сњ you yell. He replies, РІР‚СљTo see why all these people are falling in!РІР‚Сњ
That guy is not burning out.
Unless you go upstream and change the cause of the problem, youРІР‚в„ўll just keep doing more and more and seeing fewer and fewer results until you finally canРІР‚в„ўt take it anymore. ThatРІР‚в„ўs when you, a champion swimmer, drown.
Right next to millions of other Americans. Nearly half of us say weРІР‚в„ўre often or always exhausted due to work (up from nearly 39 percent in 2006), according to the General Social Survey, a health poll thatРІР‚в„ўs been monitoring trends since 1972.
While thereРІР‚в„ўs no tidy clinical definition for burnout, most researchers say youРІР‚в„ўre in that overcooked state when youРІР‚в„ўre living in the trifecta of constant exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced effectiveness. РІР‚СљA lot of people who think theyРІР‚в„ўre burned out are really just completely physically exhaustedРІР‚вЂќthey still like their jobs and could do them well again if they could just recharge,РІР‚Сњ says Michael Leiter, Ph.D., a professor of organizational psychology at AustraliaРІР‚в„ўs Deakin University. Genuine burnout, however, canРІР‚в„ўt be rested awayРІР‚вЂќas most fried workers learn when theyРІР‚в„ўre wiped by 11:00 a.m. after their first vacation in a decade.
While you probably wonРІР‚в„ўt be able to fix every problem thatРІР‚в„ўs leading to burnout, you can fix some of the root issues. Tackle these before youРІР‚в„ўre totally toast:
Check for Depression
РІР‚СљOver the last decade, it has become increasingly clear thatР’В burnoutР’В is a euphemism for depression,РІР‚Сњ says Renzo Bianchi, Ph.D., a psychology researcher at the University of NeuchР“Сћtel in Switzerland whoРІР‚в„ўs published reams on the burnout/depression entanglement. Many longtime burnout researchers hotly disagree with this (understandably). But whether burnout and depression are one condition or two, itРІР‚в„ўs smart to get screened. Depression has well-known, effective treatments (burnout doesnРІР‚в„ўt yet), and accessing those could give you a clear-cut framework to attack the problems that are making life gray and joylessРІР‚вЂќincluding what the hell to do about the work situation.
Stop Using Instagram as a Window
ItРІР‚в„ўs infuriatingly easy to constantly check out what everyone else is doing (working on a deck in Bermuda, retiring at 35)РІР‚вЂќand subconsciously calculate how you stack upРІР‚вЂќgiven that your peers now include 700 people on Instagram and LinkedIn youРІР‚в„ўve met once or havenРІР‚в„ўt seen since 1995. Add to that the bumper-sticker notions of РІР‚Сљfollow your passionРІР‚Сњ and the like that are far more present in our peripheral consciousness now than they were in your dadРІР‚в„ўs working prime, and it all takes the sheen off your particleboard desk, making your 24/7 toiling seem meaningless and woefully inadequate.
The obvious but still helpful solution: Limit social-media dip-ins and create a mantra that gives you a psychic lift (e.g.,Р’В At least IРІР‚в„ўm not a company drone/BS-talking consultant!).
Find a New Ear
Most burned-out people feel isolated and alienated, and they areРІР‚вЂќstrong relationships are the greatest buffer against, and remedy for, burnout. Seeking emotional support from a buddy and bending a sympathetic ear will make you feel betterРІР‚вЂќfor a while. РІР‚СљYou get some catharsis, but it doesnРІР‚в„ўt solve any of your problems,РІР‚Сњ says Irvin Schonfeld, Ph.D., professor of psychology at CUNY in New York.
Of course, the ideal person to talk to is your manager. But assuming youРІР‚в„ўve already tried working with them to set priorities (maybe somethingРІР‚в„ўsР’В noturgent every once in a while?), and youРІР‚в„ўve set limits on work (no checking emails on the weekends), find someone to talk to who can help. ThatРІР‚в„ўs no small feat, naturally, since youРІР‚в„ўre probably certain that every drop of help from every viable, non-shitty person has already been wrung. Possibly true, but prioritize spending precious social time with any breathing human who can help you fix a work problem to lasting effect. ItРІР‚в„ўll give you the double benefit of feeling less alone and less powerless.
РІР‚СљThereРІР‚в„ўs a point of no return in burnout,РІР‚Сњ says Leiter. When the negative associations tied to your work become too strong, he says, РІР‚Сљpeople reach a point where they just have to get out.РІР‚Сњ Recovering from burnout can take a painfully long time. РІР‚СљResearch shows it takes about two and a half years if a person doesnРІР‚в„ўt get any professional help,РІР‚Сњ says Wilmar Schaufeli, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. By then, of course, youРІР‚в„ўll have likely kissed your paycheck and professional momentum goodbye. So stomping out a flame before it torches you can be one of the best careerРІР‚вЂќand personalРІР‚вЂќmoves you ever make.
Article By: Ron Geraci