What is Burnout and How to Avoid it

Have you ever noticed your value coincides with how productive you are? Being able to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously is a respected trait.

Getting things done is one thing, but pushing yourself to perform at your very best at every moment may lead to burnout. It’s a feeling that nearly two-thirds of full-time employees surveyed in a Gallup poll experience at work.

Despite its prevalence in our culture, the exhaustion, depression, and boredom that come with burnout aren’t normal. Like all things in life, you need balance to be successful.

Otherwise, you may end up dropping the ball on one or more of your responsibilities. Before that happens, let’s take a look at what burnout is, so you may learn how to keep it from affecting you.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a legitimate diagnosis. According to the World Health Organization, it’s the culmination of chronic stress that results in exhaustion, pessimism, and feelings of uselessness.

It may affect anyone, working in any position. You don’t even have to be traditionally employed to fall victim. Anyone who labors may be burnt out — whether you volunteer, run a household, or care for elderly parents.

It’s the result of chronic stress built up to intolerable levels, at which point it affects your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Why Does it Happen?

Burnout happens for a lot of reasons. Let’s check in with some of the most common ones below.

  1. You Don’t Care About What You Do. You may be dealing with a lack of purpose in life and struggling to find work you believe in. It’s easy to feel burnt out when you’re bored in your current position or indifferent about your results.
  2. There Are Toxic People in Your Life. A stressful office, classroom, or home may lead to burnout, even if you love what you do. Toxic coworkers, bad management, and restrictive workplace policies may add heaps of anxiety to your plate while undermining your value.
  3. Financial Worries Play a Part. Between bills, student debt, and your credit cards, your paycheck may be stretched thin. Not knowing if you can make ends meet may have you feeling the burn.

Getting a Handle on it

Quitting your job and escaping to the woods for the rest of your life may be one way to deal with burnout. But it’s not exactly a realistic strategy for most people with responsibilities and families.

A more practical approach is to target the underlying cause and work from there. Here are some ways you may take the heat off.

Get a Handle on Your Finances

If you’re facing financial uncertainty, fall back on your budget. This spending plan gives a sense of order to what may feel like a chaotic time in your life.

This document keeps track of your incoming and outgoing cash, so you know where your money is going every month. By examining these expenses closely, you may also uncover bad spending habits that waste your money.

When slashing expenses, be realistic about what you’re willing to cut. Don’t promise to spend $100 a month on groceries when you have five mouths to feed. You’ll only break this promise and feel bad about your failure. Research to see what you can reasonably save in each spending category.

Once you manage unnecessary spending, reorganize your budget. Try to follow the 80-20 Budgeting Method, which sets aside 20 percent of your income to savings.

This goal may feel daunting if you’ve never budgeted before. And until you start squirrelling away, you may be vulnerable to unexpected bills and repairs.

Researching how you might use a personal line of credit in an emergency may take some of the pressure off your finances. A personal line of credit is a helpful tool that acts as a safety net when your savings fall short.

But it isn’t a long-term solution to chronic financial issues. If you’re struggling with something that goes beyond what money-saving tips and a personal line of credit can do, consider speaking with a counselor to find out your next step.

Get a Change of Scenery

Sometimes, there’s value in putting your nose to the grindstone and working through adversity. But sometimes, you have to acknowledge when that behavior is damaging to your mental and physical health.

If your job or coworkers cause you undue stress, brainstorm ways you may escape them. Think of healthy coping mechanisms you can do at your desk to offset your anxiety. Talk to your employer about switching departments or lightening your workload. Delegate tasks back at home and be honest with friends and family about your experiences.

You may even find out what you need to do to apply for a new job or switch career streams altogether.

Manage Your Work-Life Balance

There’s a difference between being a hard worker and being a workaholic.

You shouldn’t spend all your waking moments thinking about work. This mindset is unhealthy, and it often comes at the expense of your health and social life.

Find out how you may set boundaries that prevent you from overworking yourself.

Try making a point to clock out at night and on the weekends. Avoid checking your work email during your off-hours and find something you like to do that isn’t work to fill your time.  Indulge in these self-care tips without stressing over your to-do list.

Address Your Anxieties Right Away

Today’s culture may value being productive. But being “on” too much of the time isn’t healthy; it’s stressful.

Doing nothing lets that stress keep building and building until something has to give.

But even if you feel you’re going to snap, it’s not a foregone conclusion. If you’re feeling burnt out, don’t wait to deal with it. Addressing it sooner rather than later removes the power it has over your health.