You may have reached a state of burnout.
What is burnout? How can we know that burnout has occurred?
Burnout is a psychological phenomenon that occurs during long-term exposure to stress in the work environment, or after long-term and excessive engagement at work. But what do we mean when we talk about stress at work? Stress at work is a situation in which some elements of work (such as the relationship with colleagues, the complexity of work tasks, the relationship with superiors, the wider work culture and the climate of the entire organization) affect us so as to impair our physiological and psychological well–being. Different levels of stress affect different people differently, but we all have limits after which stress begins to have a negative effect on us. Burnout at work can be recognized through three dimensions, which are:
- Feelings of inefficiency and lack of achievement at work: Do you feel that you are not achieving significant results at work or that your efforts are not appreciated? Do you feel that you are not doing your work efficiently and that you often waste time?
- Feelings of cynicism and depersonalization in the workplace: Do you experience almost all elements of work in a negative way? Do you do things at work only because you have to and feel like you’re not actually involved in them?
- Extremely strong feeling of exhaustion from work: Do you have a constant feeling of exhaustion and apathy, as if the demands of the job exceed your capabilities?
Why is it important to recognize burnout in yourself and colleagues in time?
In the short term, burnout leads to giving up on up work goals, reduced effort, reduced expectations at work and reduced self–esteem. Long-term burnout and work overload can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, shorten our lifespan, and generally have a detrimental effect on our health. What are the other consequences of burnout? Stomachaches and headaches, sleep and blood pressure problems. We become irritable and nervous and tend to isolate ourselves from those closest to us. Depression and anxiety are also possible consequences of burnout. Reduced productivity and engagement at work and more frequent sick leaves can also negatively affect the entire organization.
How do you know if you are at risk for burnout?
- If you do not face problems head on and tend to procrastinate, you find it difficult to cope with change and feel that most things in life are beyond your control, if you expect too much from work and invest too much emotional and mental energy in work
- If you are given too many tasks at work and you are not sure what exactly you are doing, what is your purpose in the organization, and you rarely get feedback on what you are doing
- If you feel that you are not rewarded for your effort, you do not have the support of colleagues, that your organization is not “fair” and that your work does not match your personal values
- If you work for an organization that expects too much from you and does not meet your psychological needs (eg feeling that your input is valued and that you are adequately rewarded for your efforts)
The more of these factors are present at work, the more likely you are to burn out.
How to protect yourself from burnout? What to do if you feel that a burnout has occurred?
You shouldn’t devote yourself completely to work, neglecting all other things in life. You should try to maintain good relationships with other employees, and try developing a relationship of mutual support with colleagues. When you notice symptoms of burnout, you should slow down and try to approach tasks in a different way. It would be useful to learn how to deal with stress at work, perhaps lower expectations from work and colleagues, and think about what your next steps at work are. It is always helpful to rely on family and friends for support. Try teaching yourself relaxation strategies, such as the process of biofeedback and meditation, or treat yourself to a massage from time to time. Keeping hobbies and similar activities othat are unrelated to work can only help you! Youshould to be aware of what your motivation is and what your needs are. Getting to know yourself better can be one of the most effective tools in the fight against burnout.
If the problem already exists, it would be prefferable identifying it, and assessing how realistic your current job expectations are, and what your actual job goals are. Once you discover the most important elements of the problem, you should focus on solving them. This can be through talking to colleagues or superiors, setting clear boundaries between private and business life, changing attitudes towards work, etc. Sometimes it can be helpful for you to simply share your problems with someone who is willing to listen to you. Regular sports or similar activities are also recommended. You should pay attention to your diet, and try to reduce your intake of caffeine, sugar and nicotine. If you feel that the problem of burnout outweighs your ability to deal with it, there is nothing embarrassing about seeking professional help!
Grubić, M. (2018). Stres na poslu – sagorijevanje ili „burnout” sindrom. Poliklinika Arista. https://www.poliklinika-arista.hr/stres-na-poslu-sagorijevanje-ili-burnout-sindrom/.
Maslach, C. i Goldberg, J. (1998). Prevention of burnout: New perspectives. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 7(1), 63–74. doi:10.1016/s0962-1849(98)80022-x
Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B. i Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job Burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 397–422. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.397
Škeš. M. (2012). Sindrom sagorijevanja na radnom mjestu. Pliva Zdravlje. https://www.plivazdravlje.hr/aktualno/clanak/21524/Sindrom-sagorijevanja-na-radnom-mjestu
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