Job Burnout: Tips for Treating It

This column concludes a three-part series on dealing with job burnout. In the first post, ”Dealing with Job Burnout,” we provided resources for you to determine if you are experiencing job burnout. Part two covered the causes of burnout, and part three offers some solutions for job burnout.

 The stories in last column, “Causes of Job Burnout” may have scared you a bit. Heart attacks and suicidal tendencies should not be part of your career. And the statistic that job burnout is associated with a 79 percent increased risk of heart disease is a sobering one. The reality is that job burnout can be extremely dangerous. So what can you do about it?

To address many of the causes of burnout, you just need to get rid of stress, right? Not exactly. In addition to being a completely unrealistic goal, a certain amount of stress is a good thing. It can spur you on to greater achievement; it can be a powerful force to drive you to accomplish great things.

The best way to deal with job burnout is to recognize when it’s approaching and take time for a break. Head it off at the pass. If you began to feel some of the symptoms I mentioned in part one of this series, such as trouble sleeping, feeling disillusioned, increased irritability, take action to give yourself a break. If taking a few vacation days is not possible, at least take off an afternoon and engage in an activity that relaxes you.

I deal with a stress every day with my clients and their complicated stressful issues. However, I get up each morning with a smile and anxious to go to work. I cycle 50 or so miles and workout in a gym for several hours a week to break the stress cycle. We each need to find what works. Yoga, hiking or long beach walks might work for you.

You can also explore new ways of clearing your mind. News broadcaster Dan Harris was filling in on “Good Morning America” when he suffered a major panic attack on air. As he says of the most embarrassing day of his life, “I freaked out in front of five million people.”

Initially a total skeptic, he tried meditation. He had such success with it, he wrote a book about it, “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story.”

Here are two other tips from Harvard Business Review from the article “Three Ways to Beat Burnout.”

  • Manage Your Work. Some things to try include delegating, prioritizing better and getting more resources to handle your job. Maybe you say yes too often, and need to let others handle some of your responsibilities.
  • Do the “Right Work.” Burnout is sometimes not about how much work you have, but the type of work you are doing. If your work is just not fulfilling for you, tips for managing your time or reducing stress aren’t going to work.

Sometimes the only answer for job burnout is to switch jobs. Or careers. If you are suffering from job burnout because you are unfulfilled, bored, under-challenged or in a job that just isn’t a good fit for you and you are unable to change the situation at your current company, it’s time to start looking.

Just remember to take the lessons you learned from the causes of your job burnout and make sure the situation at your new company will be different. For example, if you suffered from job burnout because there was limited upward mobility or your values weren’t in line with those of your company, gather as much information as possible on the new employer in those areas.

The main thing to remember about job burnout is that it can be a serious condition. So don’t ignore it — deal with it.

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