Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It takes weeks, months, and sometimes even years of continually burning the candle at both ends before burnout catches up on you, but when it does, it’s unmistakable. The issue with waiting too long before addressing burnout is that once you’ve truly reached it, it takes a lot longer to recover from vs. taking small steps to avoid it in the first place. So before you let burnout get ahold of you, here are the signs to look out for and the steps you can take to avoid it.
What to Look Out For
You may feel like you can handle it all, but continual professional and personal stress usually catches up with you, therefore, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of burnout. Feeling continually underwater and like you’re working all the time, yet somehow not accomplishing a lot, is one sign. Having a hard time concentrating, not being motivated to start a project, and having trouble focusing are also common signs. Other things to look out for are being more irritable at work than normal, especially with your manager and co-workers, and being in a negative space where you’re experiencing more “bad” days than “good” days. If you’re unsure whether what you’re experiencing is burnout, or just unhappiness with your job, there are tests you can take online that can help clue you in. Everyone has periods in their life when they feel more stressed and have more on their plate, but are usually able to catch breaks to recharge. With burnout, it’s feeling constantly under pressure and never feeling like it eases up, that’s the problem.
What You Can Do Now
Taking small, actionable steps now will be a lot easier than trying to fix the situation once it becomes a full-blown problem. Taking time to rest and recharge even with a long weekend can make a world of difference. You don’t need to book a flight to an exotic island (but if you can swing it, go for it!) but even a long “staycation” where you do some fun local outings can really help you unplug. Another step you may need to take is talking to your boss and letting them know your situation. If you have too much on your plate, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, you may need some assistance. Have an open conversation with your manager and let them know how you are feeling so you can work together on finding a solution. Another step is putting boundaries in place to ensure you are taking care of yourself. Scheduling in time for the activities that contribute to your mental and physical well-being such as exercise, meditation, therapy, and quality time with friends and family is vital. This may look like blocking off time on your calendar every week to attend a yoga class at lunch, or catching up with an old friend after work. Think about what makes you feel good and make sure to include those activities in your weekly schedule.