The signs of burn out
- Fatigue - this is one of the prime indicators that you may be experiencing burn out. You are just tired all the time. It may consist of mental apathy, bodily lethargy, and or hyper sensitivity, manifested in weeping uncontrollably etc. Change in sleeping patterns i.e. insomnia or maybe simple tiredness that isn’t relieved by sleep.
- Fun – What’s that? You can’t remember the last time you felt enthusiastic, and the very thought of having to get out of bed in the morning and go to the work place becomes almost impossible to achieve, then this too is one of the primary signs of complete burn out.
- Overwhelming pessimism- Feelings of worthlessness, coupled with dissatisfaction and disillusionment.
- A fuzzy brain – Further blatant indications of both long term stress and burn out are problems with our cognitive ability to both focus and concentrate. Although our brains and indeed our bodies cope well with stress for a short period, and quickly resumes normal function; this is not the case when stress becomes chronic as our awareness becomes limited on only focusing the spotlight on the negative facets that we recognize as potential danger.
- Work place targets and achievements sliding – As a rule burn out does not happen overnight, rather a gradual decline in job performance occurs over a period of time, and a fairly accurate assessment as to whether this is merely a ‘blip’ or ‘burn out’ is to compare your work place accomplishments in former years.
- Becoming cynical, frustrated or simply uncommunicative – what you do isn’t important any more. This is a common sign of burnout and it may be manifested by being indifferent to aspects of life that used to be important to you, by displaying a short fuse or hostility towards work colleagues and family members or by becoming introverted, and subsequently feeling that you are on the periphery from aspects of life that previously concerned you, and sensing disconnection from the people in your life.
- Neglecting your inner self - To counteract some or all of the above more obvious signs of ‘burn out, sufferers may embark on a sort of self harm, by over eating, in particular junk foods or sugar loaded ‘treats’ which will subsequently result in unwanted weight gain. They may also consume too much alcohol in an attempt to de-stress, or start to use sleeping tablets as a ‘crutch’ to resolve stress induced insomnia.
- Serious health consequences –Ultimately if the alarming signs and symptoms of burn out are left unaddressed then the victim is at risk of serious health issues, such as obesity, chronic depression, cardiac disease, and problems with the digestive tract.
Who’s more at risk of Burn out?
According to the Mayo clinic in the USA Work related burn out is more prevalent in certain categories of people such as:-
- People who are unable to strike a home work balance, i.e. work issues are all consuming.
- A perfect analogy at this juncture is that we can only slice so many portions from a cake, and that susceptible people attempt to slice that same cake when there is nothing left. Translating this into the real world means that there are only 24 hours in each day!
- Professionals such as nurses, doctors, teachers and counsellors are identified as being at a higher risk of Job Burnout.
- Workers that perform repetitive tasks.
- Work places where the employees feel oppressed, and have insufficient or indeed no influence over their own jobs.
Effects on our health
According to a recent investigation conducted by the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, work related burn out is being linked to coronary heart disease. These findings followed a study by scientists at the Tel Aviv University involving 8,838 men and women all in work, with ages between 19 and 67 years, who after being tracked for 3.4 years, researchers were clearly able to identify those who were at risk from heart disease and moreover their position with regards to work burnout.
Following this land mark study, the examiners isolated 93 people in the study group who had acquired coronary heart disease, and after taking into consideration other pertinent risk dynamics such as tobacco smoking, family history and age, the scientists found that being subjected to work burn out increases the potential of heart disease by 40%, and more alarming that study participants who were graded in the top 20% of work burn syndrome, were 70% more liable to develop coronary heart disease.
This same group of scientists at Tel Aviv also established a link between Work place burn out and type 2 diabetes, citing that those people on the upper spectrum of burn out had a shocking 84% potential chance of developing this disease, as opposed to their markedly reduced burn out counterparts.
Face your burnout face-on
It is never too late, and providing that you have accepted that you are at risk of burn out or indeed unfortunately in the grips of the effects of workplace burn out, we can offer you some tips on how to combat this undermining all encompassing affliction!
- Research at Tel Aviv University, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed that a holiday relieves the effects of burnout although its effects disappear after a few days at work. Recognising the problem is part of the solution. If you are burnt out, take time off, go on holiday, who knows it may be just what you need and you’ll come back with renewed energy.
- You can’t take a holiday every other week so force yourself to do fun things. Why not go away for the weekend with your partner or friends?
- Learn to disconnect. Turn your mobile phone off and don’t check your emails.
- Assess your choices by thrashing out precise worries with either your HR department (if this facility is available to you) or your line manager.
- One of the most effective stress busters is to incorporate an exercise regime into your ADL’s (activities of daily living) – any physical activity taken on a regular basis, lessens stress levels, enhances low mood and generally enriches your well being.
- Fine tune your approach to your job, by re evaluating the positive aspects of your job, particularly those components that you found so interesting initially!
- Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for support or mentoring assistance if this will help you to effectively handle work place stress.
- Ensure that you adopt a sensible sleeping pattern at least 7-8 hours per night is considered to be the optimum amount.
Burn out is a sign that we need a holiday. Taking time off to go away somewhere different will recharge your batteries and improve your performance when you get back.
If however, you feel that a holiday would tackle the symptoms and not the root of the problem, it may be time for a complete re-think, particularly if there are no opportunities for any positive changes within your current work place setting.
Irrespective of what profession you are in or what job you do, nothing is more important than good health and contentment, and therefore, it may be time to seriously consider a change of work place direction.