Burnout is a feeling of exhaustion, of being overwhelmed, of having a lack of energy, and a lack of motivation. Most people attribute the cause simply to overwork, having too much to do and not enough time to do it.
But psychologists who study the phenomenon of burnout say that there is a lot more involved than first meets the eye. It’s not just overwork or your reaction to it, but a complex systemic interaction with your attitudes, beliefs, and your work.
Burnout is especially prevalent among people who are the most conscientious and committed to their work. It also affects perfectionists more than others.
Here are some things to know about burnout.
1. Realize that burnout is about more than just you
Many people believe that burnout is just a matter of poor time management or lack of mental toughness. But it goes beyond that. It is usually endemic to unhealthy work environments.
It is connected to issues like bad management, oppressive deadlines, unmanageable workloads and shoddy procedures. So people should not feel guilty or ashamed because they are feeling overwhelmed and burned out. It probably is not their fault.
2. Burnout is tied into our beliefs and values
Our job, the work we do, informs our identity and estimate of self-worth. Many look to their jobs to give meaning and purpose to their lives. So when work becomes entangled with our value system, experiencing burnout can affect how we think about ourselves and the value of our lives.
3. A question of control
Make a list of the things that are stressing you, whether they are internal or external. It could be certain people, work issues like deadlines or workloads, or your own thoughts and feelings. Then think about what is under your control and what isn’t. What do you have the power to change and what is beyond your capacity to change?
Then focus on the things that you can control.
Chastising yourself and using techniques to increase your productivity will not get at the root of the burnout problem. You need to find out how to work in a way that is manageable and balanced, and that aligns with your values.
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