You have worked on 12 hour shifts throughout the night for the past 3 years. You have worked every single holiday; every single natural disaster; every single major event. You have missed your kid’s sporting events and recitals. You have missed barbecues, parties, weddings, funerals, and gatherings. You have been surrounded by a high-stress environment every single work day. You have no support. Your family life is suffering. Your kids miss you. You are feeling worn down and overworked. You are approaching burnout.
Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long term exhaustion, overwork, work-related stress, and physical or mental collapse relating to overwork and stress. Burnout has been shown to be closely related in symptoms to depression.
What are some of the signs of burnout?
- Chronic Fatigue – You may have a lack of energy or be completely exhausted.
- Loss of Appetite – You could range from skipping meals here and there to not wanting to eat at all, resulting in significant weight loss.
- Insomnia – You may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Anxiety – You may feel worried and on edge more. This could affect your personal life as well.
- Anger – You may feel like your anger is the ruling emotion. You have outburst frequently and don’t handle your anger in a productive way. If anger is hurting your relationships, it may be time to seek help.
- Depression – You may start out feeling worthless and sad which can quickly lead to feeling trapped and like the world may be better off without you in it (if you reach this mindset, seek help immediately).
- Isolation – This could range from skipping out on your usual social gatherings to avoiding social interaction all together by arriving early or late.
- Detachment – You feel disconnected from your work and others. You call in sick more frequently. Arrive late. Avoid interacting with others.
- Negative Self-Talk – You beat yourself up constantly with negative internal dialogue telling you how worthless you are. You may see negatives happening in your life rather than positives.
- Loss of Enjoyment – You don’t really care anymore about the things that you used to, inside and outside of work.
- Poor Performance – Your productivity declines.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s not too late to make changes to your life and seek out help.
What are some strategies to combating burnout?
- Make a list of all of the things that cause you stress. This doesn’t need to be completed in one sitting. Just write down things as you think of them.
- Next to each thing, write out small and big ways that you could change these things to make them more positive. There is no right or wrong answer to these. It could even be as huge as quitting your job. It doesn’t mean that you have to take that option, but just knowing that there is a way out, and that leaving your job wouldn’t be the end of the world, allows you to overcome feeling trapped.
- Say no. If someone asks you to take their extra shift, work this event, sign up for this overtime, say no. It’s ok to tell them that you have too much on your plate right now and you are taking the steps necessary to improve your health. We often say yes because we want to be accepted and we want to please others, but saying no is essential to reducing stress.
- Make a list of all of the things that make you excited or happy. Make an effort to schedule in these things as often as possible; it could be painting each morning, going to play golf, taking a vacation, going to the movies. Read books about your interests. Sign up for classes about your interest. Go do things that are separate and different from the job you are currently doing.
- Find a support group. This support could be a set of professionals. It could be an actual therapeutic support group. It could be a bowling team. Surround yourself with people that are uplifting, encouraging and supportive.
Burnout doesn’t happen in a day, so expecting to overcome it in a day isn’t realistic. Take small steps each day to bring more positivity into your life. By reducing the stress and commitments that you are taking on, you will, eventually, dramatically increase the quality of your life.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.