October 24, 2020

Job burnout


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An article appeared in TechReplic (www.techrepublic.com) recently by Scott Lowe under the heading “10 things IT pros do that lead to burnout”.

It was so interesting and the majority of the ten things listed apply to most of us in the workplace that I thought I would share some of them with you. I urge you to visit the TechRepublic website and read the whole article yourself.

1: Never say no

As the saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Trying to do so will result in certain failure due to over commitment, missed deadlines, and having everyone upset in the attempt to make everyone happy. Instead, commit to pleasing “some of the people some of the time,” through existing governance structures.

2: Skip the vacation

American workers get and use less vacation than our global counterparts. This is a travesty. Time away from the office is absolutely essential for recharging the batteries and renewing the spirit. Failure to “get away from it all” leaves workers with no opportunity for renewal and can also negatively affect family and personal relationships.

3: Skip lunch

Lunch is about more than lunch. Everyone needs food to make it through the day, and that short break can be as good as a 15-minute catnap in helping you remain productive the rest of the day.

4: Work insane hours

Logic would seem to indicate that you could accomplish twice as much in 80 hours per week than in 40. At some point, more time results in diminishing returns. If you push it too much, you’ll end up constantly tired and sick and not doing anyone any good.

5: Disregard family time

Those with families who attempt to forgo family time will pay the price in a lot of ways. Stress levels will increase as they try to make up for this lost time. And those all-important family ties will begin to suffer, leading to an employee who is bitter and disengaged and wondering why he can’t ever eat with his kids.

6: Fail to watch your health

How many of you exercise every day? How many of you watch every calorie you eat? How many of you weigh more than you did when you started your current job? Do what you can to get some exercise (take the stairs, walk to lunch, etc.) and try to eat better and not chow down on junk food while you work.

The Mayo Clinic says “job burnout is a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” It asks you the following questions:

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?

If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions you could be experiencing burnout and the Clinic advises you to consult your doctor.

Stress is the number 1 factor in job burnout although some stresses get you going and are good for you. It is important to know how your body and psyche function and which situations trigger your stress responses. This understanding can be used to raise and lower your tension level as needed.  Personal power comes in knowing that, although you may not like the difficult situations, you CAN handle them. Such feelings enable you to rise to the occasion and to handle difficulties skillfully rather than by avoiding problem situations. Relaxation allows the body to repair, rest, and prepare for optimal functioning. With practice anyone can learn to use relaxation to control stress. Personal power increases when you can relax at will. For example, when faced with a crisis situation, if you can keep activation within the optimal range for peak functioning you will remain alert and have all your resources to draw on to deal with the situation. Confidence grows because you know you can remain cool regardless of provocation. You feel in command instead of helpless.

I have found laughing is also a big help to overcome job burnout and stress. Who was it who first said “laughing is the best medicine”?


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