Burnout can happen at any point in one’s career. New graduates may adapt the mindset that they have to go above and beyond to show that they are willing to work hard and have talent. You may want to take on 40-hour weekdays, get to work early but stay at work late, and take on extra tasks or projects. While it’s tempting to do all of this to make a name for yourself and pay off your student loans, you need to be careful.
New graduates aren’t the only one’s taking on too much. Established doctors might be tackling new locations, handling new administrative tasks, and working strenuous hours to make up income. However, all these mindsets and actions can lead to burnout which affects your physical, mental, and social health, and your work ethic. Yet, some of us may not know when we are stretching ourselves too thin. Here are some signs:
Signs of Burnout
Physical Health. This is one of the most common signs that you are experiencing burnout and can be exhibited in many ways. In the morning you simply don’t want to get out of bed. Your body feels like it weighs a million tons and the last place you want to be is in the workplace. You start to experience constant exhaustion in all aspects of life and you have trouble mustering the energy for anything. You may not be able to sleep at night because your mind is still back at work. Additionally, your immune system may take a turn for the worst causing you to develop consistent headaches or get sick more often than usual.
Mental Health. This is also another massive sign that you are taking on too much. You may notice that when at work you have a hard time focusing on any tasks, no matter how small. Everything starts to pile up and you notice that at the end of the day not much has gotten done or its not done properly. You might find yourself going through symptoms of being angry, depressed, and anxious both in the workplace and at home. An example would be feeling upset or frustrated by something that a coworker has done that might be as simple as socializing in the office, being happy in the morning, or finishing a project on time. Their causes for celebration make you feel worse and you feel like your feelings in general are magnified by ten.
Accomplishment. Another sign that you may be experiencing burnout includes feeling a lack of accomplishment. You feel as though nothing you get done is worthy of praise. You feel that your work isn’t good enough no matter how hard you try or how well you have done. While you are doing more and more or are taking on challenging tasks you feel as though you are still not doing enough to be noticed.
Social Health. Work has become everything. You have trouble thinking about anything else and you’re starting to miss birthdays, weddings, and holiday events. You don’t go out with your friends anymore and you don’t know what’s going on in anyone’s life. You’re taking on more and more work, but you aren’t taking out any time for yourself. You find that you don’t understand some conversations that revolve around things that might have happened outside of work. The physical and mental health effects are flowing over into your personal life. You’re angry with people that you shouldn’t be or your mood is affecting how you act at home.
Career Ledging. Now this is a topic that is up and coming. It pertains the moment when you have “peaked” in your career and you don’t know how to move forward. Some say it may even be more important than burnout. It’s important to mention this sign because it may lead you to understand whether you are truly burned out or are just stuck and don’t know how to move forward in your career.
What can you do?
Know your limits. It is so important to understand how much you can do and how much you need to do. While you want to work hard and show that you have the potential to be a wonderful employee, you also want to be able to stay consistent and not burn out in the process. If you come in to work early don’t also leave late or take on too many projects. Understand when you need to say no. Note that you may have been able to work seven days a week as a new graduate, but this can become harder when you start a family. A great tip is to take on one project at a time and do your best on that project before moving on to the next. In this way you effectively focus your time and energy without overworking yourself. You show that you can work hard, have impeccable time management and balance because you can stay consistent rather than burning out in the long run.
Set attainable short-term goals. You always hear about looking at the big picture, and that is an important aspect of business. However, you can have a big picture and still set smaller goals for yourself. Whether it be to get to work at a certain time, accomplish a certain step to beginning a project, or any other aspect of a big project or work task. Setting smaller goals and reaching them can give you a great sense of accomplishment until you reach your long-term goals.
Balance your life. It’s great to have big goals within the workplace, but try to set apart your work time and your personal life. When you get home disconnect from the worries of work and focus on your personal passions and social life. Don’t constantly check your work emails or text messages when you are at home. Set work contacts to “Hide Alerts” when you get home if that helps you. Set time aside to spend with your family and friends. Choose work hours that will help you to do so. If working in the mornings and being available in the afternoon or at night is the best fit for you then don’t be afraid to request that change.
Change your routines. A great way to relieve symptoms of burnout is to switch things up with your routine. If you always do things the same way, it may become monotonous. Do you normally pack a lunch? This time take some cash with you and go out for lunch somewhere new and close to the office. Do you usually work out after you get home? Try waking up earlier and going for a short run or even meditating before taking your cup of coffee. Are you able to take your laptop outside or work in a different part of the office? Go out to work events, talks or panels and network with the other professionals in your area. Not only do you get a change from the usual work scenery, but you get your name out into your industry. Anything you can do to make a fun and different spin in your daily work life can help in a big way.
Stay active with patients. Be present with your patients and what they have to say. Talk to them about their personal lives or their concerns and activities. Sometimes it can be very uplifting to hear their inputs or recent events. It can help move your mind away from your own stressors for the moment or help you understand where you should truly be putting your focus. At times patients can be extremely perceptive and they will tell you when they see that you are acting differently at work. Use this as an indicator that it is time to make a change.
In the end burnout is something that can affect anyone, but it is up to you to take that negative situation and turn it into a positive for yourself. You don’t want to get stuck or keep feeling the way you feel and perhaps these tips can help you to make the change you need.