Purple Skies talks us through the 16 signs of burnout
If some of the below signs of burnout resonate for you, do something about it before its too late. We are well and truly settling into the new year and reality is now setting in. The parties are over with and it’s back to the grind stone. For those who commute probably having to suffer train strikes and over crowded transport. It just adds to the stress of our daily lives. The thought of going to work and logging on to your computer fills you with dread and despair. Thinking about the long list of things to do that always seams to get longer and longer.
With that long to do list you worry over when your going to fit it all in. That items will fall off the list to the detriment of you. You feel like you have a huge weight on your shoulders or a grey cloud hanging over you head. Each day the weight gets slightly heavier becoming so heavy it’s starting to bear down on your shoulders. The grey cloud becomes darker and bigger almost about to break out into thunder and lightening. It all becomes too much.
Are you a high achiever?
The feeling of burn out is a gradual feeling. It starts with little things and over time grows to become a much bigger concern. Because you are a high achiever and dedicated to your job, you work hard. You work long hours, missing lunch breaks. You get in early to make sure you have a quiet hour or two before “everyone else gets in”. This starts off on the odd morning, but gradually over time becomes the norm. Sometimes you forgo your lunch break. You have lunch at your desk and either finish off the report you were doing, or updating the spreadsheet your working on. This increases over time, gradually it becomes a regular thing happening a few times a week then it becomes the norm. You start to stay late the odd evening to catch up. Then you think I can use this time to just finish off a lengthy email or do more research. The time you stay late at work gets more frequent and becomes the norm.
Are you a can do person?
Also, you are a can do person. Someone who is proactive and interested in their team and department. You understand the business you are in and what your organisation is trying to achieve. You are passionate about the work and want to succeed. You take on as many projects as you can to help out. You love it when something pops up and sounds interesting and exciting, which you jump at and grab with a lot of enthusiasm.
However, it’s not until your at your desk do you realise what you have just done. You have added to your already long to do list. You have promised you will get the work done so you have to do it. You will have to stay even longer or work weekends. You start to feel dis – heartened because you have just added to an already heavy work load. You feel frustrated and annoyed with yourself but don’t see any way out apart from just getting on with it. With working longer hours on a regular basis you feel unmotivated because your not getting paid for working longer hours. You start to feel your giving loads of value but getting nothing in return.
Perhaps you use work to shine?
Additionally, you use work to shine. You feel that taking on lots of projects will show how good you are. By increasing your workload you are showing you can cope and multitask. Your thought process follows a format of more is better. But because you want to do well and have a can do attitude you produce high quality work. In order to do that sometime has to give. Your focused and motivated about what you do so in order to show how good you are you work harder and harder, because at some point someone will notice. Someone will spot you and offer you a pay rise/promotion/recognition (delete as appropriate).
What is a burnout?
All of this leads to burnout, which in turn could lead to severe depression. So what is burnout? Burnout is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
“exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration“
Therefore if you are going to work every single day under a lot of stress or frustration with your job, you are well on the road to burnout. But how do you know your suffering burnout? Below are some burnout signs to look out for, for each point I have started with the initial sign and then what extreme indication would be.
Signs of burnout
- Lack of energy to begin with, leading to physical and emotional exhaustion
- Odd night having trouble going to/staying asleep leading to continual difficulties in sleeping
- Lack of focus leading to severe forgetfulness and lack of concentration
- Chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness fainting, heart palpitations (please seek medical help if experiencing these)
- Low immune system, increasing frequency of experiencing colds and viruses
- Miss the odd meal leading to general lack of appetite and significant weight loss
- Mild tension and worry leading to inability to work productively
- Some sadness and guilt leading to feeling trapped worthlessness and severe depression (please seek professional help if you are feeling like the world will be better off without you)
- Irritable leading to angry outbursts in work and at home (please seek professional help if this ever escalates to thinking of or actual physical acts of violence)
- Mild loss of enjoyment leading to avoiding projects and thinking of ways to escape work
- Negative self talk leading to lack of trust at work and at home
- Resistance to socialising leading to anger when someone talks to you
- Feeling disconnected to everyone around you leading to not going into work and calling in sick/being late
- Nothing is going right leading to “Whats the point?”
- Feeling ineffective, unimportant and useless leading to destroying relationships in work and at home due to not feeling like your working as effectively as you previously did
- Lack of productivity leading to a never ending to do list feeling like you will never get on top of it.
Any of these signs individually may not be cause for alarm, however if you notice it’s a change in your normal behaviour then take some time out to just check what is going on for you at the moment. If you are noticing more than one sign then take that as an early warning you are experiencing the onset of burnout. In order to do something about it you have to make some changes. It’s not something that will pass over or it will go when the next project is finished. It will continue and the only person that can do something about it is you.
What can you do?
During the early signs of burnout small changes can be made which you will see the results relatively quickly, however during the later stages bigger changes are required and may need more time. Although depending on what the change (whether big or small) may require a lot of work and time. However, how can you keep going?
1. Not resort to old behaviours
Working with a coach to explore what is going on for you and work together to find coping strategies that work for you will help in making change. Also working with a coach can help you with understanding why change may not be happening for you at the moment. They can help you see why the old behaviours are coming back into play. The coach will work with you to establish what you can do to relieve stress. Some changes are deep routed and required more time and effort. They can be emotionally tiring to explore but may be necessary to make the change. These deep routed changes can be the key to moving forwards. By avoiding these it will be to the detriment of you no longer suffering burnout.
2. Happier at home as well as work
Dealing with burnout head on will not only help you be more productive and happier at work, it will also help at home too. A lot of the symptoms above are not only seen in the work place, but they are also echoed at home too. For a while you march on as if everything is OK. You don’t want to worry your partner or your family. But this can only go on for so long. Soon the cracks will appear and these symptoms will spill over into your private life too. The home has become another place of stress. More arguing, lack of interest in what is going on with the family, not engaged with conversation at home, no time to spend with then because you are late every night. The atmosphere at home has changed it’s become dark, heavy, hostile and negative.
3. The other side of the coin
A coach can help you through this, by helping you see situations from other perspectives. Helping you stop feeling immersed in the day to day and bring yourself to the surface to see what else is going on. Allowing you the space to look at alternatives and talk them through. Just by being with someone else in a calm environment with time just spent on you to understand what is going on, will help you see opportunities and solutions.
Working with a coach will help you live a life where there is little weight on your shoulders. To say there would be no weight would be giving false promises. We still need to cope with the day to day and coaching will help you with that. The coach will help the grey cloud gradually become white and soon for it to disappear. However, that is not to say the cloud will never return. But working with the coach you will have made a change that will help you deal with that reappearing grey cloud.
FinallyHow would it feel to be motivated and positive at work? How would it feel to look forward to getting out of bed in the morning? How would it feel to not be irritated by the train strikes or over crowded trains? What would it feel like to be free of the weight on your shoulders or that grey cloud?
Finally, working with a coach such as me can help you through the burnout. Putting you in a positive and motivated place. I would help you still be the high achiever that you are but for the right reasons. We would work together on doing the right things rather than trying to do everything. Helping you to use your dedication in the right way rather than it overwhelming and increasing your work load. Working with you to use your need to help others in a productive way. Also looking at other ways to shine rather than continually taking on extra projects.
I offer a free half hour consultation where we discuss if we could work together. Click here to book your free half hour session.