Think twice before you chalk up your fatigue to the fast-paced lifestyle we all lead.
Chronic weariness, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and even anger and irritability result from job burnout. That’s a specific type of physical, emotional and mental fatigue that experts at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, caution can adversely impact your health.
Executive coach Monique Valcour writes in the Harvard Business Review that workplace conditions contributing to burnout include:
- Low levels of job control
- Ridiculously high workloads
- Uncivil behavior
- Insufficient social support
- Stressed leaders who exhibit poor behavior
Bottom line: Burnout can put your health at risk as well as your job performance, relationships, psychological wellbeing and career prospects, Valcour says.
Wonder if you’re burned out from work? If you agree with even one of these 10 signs, devised by Mayo Clinic researchers, consider talking with a physician or seeking other support:
- You’ve grown critical or cynical at work.
- You’re impatient and cranky with co-workers, customers or clients.
- It’s hard to go to work and hard to get going once you’re there.
- You can’t focus or concentrate.
- You’re feeling disillusioned about the job.
- Your sleep habits have changed.
- You have trouble staying productive.
- Even your achievements don’t deliver satisfaction.
- Drugs, alcohol or a poor diet are familiar crutches.
- You’re plagued by headaches, stomach aches, bowel problems or other miseries.
Even if you can’t leave your job, you can take the following five steps to reduce stress and minimize damage to your health.
1. Talk to your boss
If you don’t want to look for a new job, Mayo Clinic researchers recommend discussing work options with your supervisor.
Flextime, telecommuting and job sharing are some alternatives that may help reduce burnout.
2. Walk it off
Move your body to combat stress, says the Mayo Clinic:
- Even brief bouts of physical activity offer benefits, so build several 10 minute walks and a few squats or pushups into your day.
- Make a game of exercising and earn a little cash with these six apps that pay money for your footsteps.
- Try a new, gentler form of exercise, especially if you are a competitive type. Yoga or Pilates, for example, can be helpful in reducing stress.
3. Choose your battles carefully
Organizational psychologist Karlyn Borysenko, writing at Forbes, advises stressed workers to “avoid being dragged into the fights that don’t matter.”
If you do enter into a conflict, she says, make sure for the sake of your mental health that the issue is one worth your effort and attention and that victory could be valuable. If not, walk away.
4. Accept that the boss is imperfect — just like you
Bosses are the largest source of workplace stress, Borysenko says. Your boss may truly be an incompetent stooge, but it’s possible she may just be, like yourself, overworked and completely human. See if you can reframe what drives you nuts, or at least focus less on it. That can help lower your expectations and calm your frustration.
That’s not to say the boss shouldn’t be accountable, only that you must take care of yourself, your sanity and your health.
5. Get enough healing sleep
Explore Integrative Medicine, a University of California website, says:
“Stress can greatly interfere with sleep and contribute to a downward spiral of declining health.”
Among the article’s recommendations:
- Use acupressure, a type of easy self-massage.
- Fall asleep more quickly by warming your feet in a warm bath or by wearing socks. Warming your extremities helps you sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy exercise near bedtime.
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