Individuals frequently discuss burnout for a variety of reasons. Yet, it has sadly become a widespread word that people use in the office, moan about as a side effect of a challenging project, and virtually expect any high achiever to have. But it’s not just a term.
Let us agree on a definition. Burnout entails more than simply feeling tired or worn out. We use this term frequently when discussing moments of stress or difficulty, but burnout is more specific and lasts for a lengthy period. Burnout is not a medical illness in and of itself; however, the ICD-11 defines it as: a syndrome assumed to be induced by continuous stress at work that has not been adequately controlled. Three factors define it: emotions of tiredness or depletion of energy, increasing mental distance from one’s employment or thoughts of negativism or cynicism about one’s career and decreased professional efficacy.
I’m referring to burnout in the office here, but it may also occur in other areas of life. Each dimension is distinct, but they all interact with one another. As a result, each needs its own answer.
On the final two categories, consider your values and goals and how your employment helps you achieve them. What motivates you? How can you ensure that what you do has a genuine impact on your team or possibly the entire world?
Stopping here and allowing this self-reflection to evolve into wrath is the trap. We typically withdraw and cut ourselves off when we are exhausted. This sets in motion a vicious loop that robs us of our finest opportunity to effect change: connection. This could include frank dialogues about position and purpose, being aggressive with peers, and setting limitations.
Depending on the person and their work, there are numerous ways to approach this concept. Yet, regarding the first dimension, I’d like to discuss one of the most common traps contributing to burnout. I call it postponing the renewal. For example, “If I could just get to the weekend, then…” or “If I could just get to the conclusion of this assignment, then…” or “If I could just get to my June vacation, then…”
The risk here is not just that you will be able to relax later but that you will also allow yourself to work harder than necessary. The issue with “feelings of energy depletion or tiredness” is that they grow over time, even when a two-week vacation is insufficient to restore balance. Worse, the time off is portrayed in such a way that individuals fear returning to work when it’s all over.
I enjoy excursions, weekends, and parties to celebrate the completion of a large job. The risk comes when they relieve us of the monotony of daily life. Burnout is an everyday illness that requires daily therapy. It all starts with a willingness to regard the period between waking up and going to bed as the one true fuel tank that matters for long-term success. Numerous things get in the way of this, such as complicated tasks, an ever-growing to-do list, teams with too few members, etc. Nevertheless, saying “no” to something now allows you to say “yes” to something bigger tomorrow.
Best ways to address burnout
So, what can we do as people who are becoming increasingly exhausted and as leaders who care about their teams who may be on the same path? The first step has already been discussed: accepting that you must do this daily. The steep path to burnout begins when we incur an energy debt by convincing ourselves that we can postpone our rejuvenation. Then, of course, there are critical project deadlines, but if every day feels like an emergency, it’s just a matter of time before it becomes a reality.
If you enjoy the idea of a daily intervention, try tracking your energy levels over the next two weeks. Keep track of what uses up your gasoline and what contributes to it. Take note of when and why this occurs. Take note of how the times of day differ from the days themselves. Then, establish a strategy with specific measures to check in daily to maximize your recharge and generate days with a net energy gain.
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It is complicated. It may imply saying “no” to things that are difficult to say “no” to. You may feel the impulse to catch up with old friends. Many of these are frequent stories, and some of them may even be genuine, which can leave individuals feeling exhausted. Yet, no matter how real these stories are, the most critical thing to remember is that if you continue down the route of deferred renewal, you won’t have a choice one day. You do it now. Have a good time on your trip.