A typical capitalist society is built on a few basic, and quite fair postulates – you earn money for the work that you do, and the amount of wealth that you can accumulate is proportional to your ability to thrive in a modern day work environment. However, things are not nearly as clear cut in the real world as they are on paper, and some people end up working incredibly hard to earn their keep. While it is good to be ambitious and to want to invest a bit more energy than the average worker into furthering your career, focusing solely on your work all the time can lead to burnout. Here are some of the common signs that you have reached the point of burnout at work, and that it is time to make some serious lifestyle changes.
1. You lose your temper at every little thing
If you succumb to blind rage every time someone at the office does something mildly irritating, and find yourself giving sarcastic or cynical answers to even the simplest questions, then you are definitely pushing yourself a bit too far at work. We all have bad days, e.g. we may be a bit hungover on Monday or stressed over a breakup, but if you are constantly in a bad mood, it’s a clear sign of being overworked.
2. You feel like you are always behind schedule
A common thing that most people who are near a mental burnout feel is the irrational fear of failure. At some point it seems that no matter how much work you put in, there is always something else to be done, and if you just finish up a couple of little things today you’ll be able to breathe easier tomorrow. However, tomorrow brings additional obligations and you get stuck in a self-perpetuating loop of worrying, working your fingers to the bone and then worrying some more.
3. You are constantly under tons of mental fatigue
You get to the office, make some coffee and have a few big gulps to wake yourself up, but even after 2-3 cups and several hours you still feel like there is a thick cloud weighing down on your head. This often happens when people push themselves a bit too hard and fail to get enough rest, both in terms of breaks at work and getting enough sleep art home.
4. You feel that you lack control over your own life
With all the job-related stress, an airtight schedule and tons of little annoyances, it can feel like the entire world is plotting against you. However, if you find yourself blaming others for the fact that your life has become a hectic mess, and feeling like there is nothing that you can do to make things better, i.e. all the logical options that your friends offer like “well, just take a break” or “why don’t you talk to your boss” seem too simplistic, chances are that you have cornered yourself with added obligations and you just don’t want to admit it.
5. You don’t get any joy from the work you do
No matter how menial a task is, a person usually takes at least some pride in the fact that they have done a good job and have earned their paycheck fair and square. Every job has its boring and frustrating sides, but there are always a few redeeming aspects – e.g. the people at work are nice, you get good money for overtime, you get to travel or you meet interesting new people each day. If you can’t seem to get any pleasure from your work, and you once used to, then it’s not just about the job itself, it’s all the extra workload that is keeping you down.
6. You don’t seem to have any time for friends and family
People who are constantly overworked usually spend very little time with friends and family, and their relationships tend to suffer because of their job. Seeing less of your friends and family throughout the week is a normal part of a responsible hard-working adult’s life, but if it’s been month since you’ve had a family dinner, a cup of coffee with a friend or did something fun and romantic with your significant other, then you might just have a problem.
7. You hardly get any sleep anymore
There are people who’ll brag about surviving with only 4-5 hours of sleep a night and joke about their caffeine addiction, like the fact that they have huge bags under their eyes, are all jittery and sluggish is a good thing. You can’t be nearly as effective when you don’t get enough sleep, no matter how much caffeine you have in you – it’s incredibly unhealthy for you, and you just can’t think as fast as you normally do. If you can’t go to sleep early, either because you are working late or are too stressed to relax, you need to reevaluate some of your life choices.
8. You feel that your sex drive has been significantly diminished
It is common to experience a reduced sex drive while under a lot of stress, and this can be particularly damaging to a relationship. If you notice that you haven’t really been intimate with your partner in a while, and that you have started getting into fights over little things, it is likely that you are too preoccupied with your work.
What can you do to get back on track?
Once you’ve established that you are nearing burnout, based on some of the signs outlined above, you can try some of these tactics to help you recharge your batteries:
- Take a nice long vacation and forget all about work for a while – the quickest and most effective way of recovering from a mental burnout is to forget about the job for a couple of weeks and go somewhere fun. If you have some vacation time lined up and a bit of money saved up, then pick a nice location and get some rest.
- Give up the nine to five and start working from home – this is quite a drastic measure, but it is often the best solution. If you don’t see things changing any time soon, you can simply leave the company and start your own business from home. Now, running your own business can be just as stressful, but setting up a functional online shop is fairly simple nowadays, and you will have all the freedom in the world to set up a schedule that works for you.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew – while showing initiative at work and taking on more challenges with time is a good think, you have to make sure that you don’t burry yourself in the work. If you need more than 9 hours of work, including breaks, to get things done, then it’s time to reduce your workload. A small bonus or a pat on the back isn’t worth losing your nerves over.
- Talk to the boss about implementing software that allows you to reduce the workload – sometimes people get bogged down by all the mindless grunt work that has to be done in addition to more creative and challenging parts of the job. There is all manner of business process management software that can make everyone’s life a whole lot easier if effectively implemented. If you approach your boss with your concerns and offer a good solution at the same time, there will be no need for things to get hostile.
- Avoid taking your work home with you all the time – it may be necessary to finish up a few things at home from time to time, but if you are always bringing tons of work home, you won’t be able to get some peace and quiet. Don’t doubt yourself too much, and separate your work and private life.
- Make it a point to schedule some quiet time with friends at least once a week – you need to spend at least a few hours a week talking with friends or just laughing and having fun. It is a good way to vent, get some advice and recharge your batteries, so make sure to fit the ones closest to you into your schedule.
- Get some exercise and go to bed a bit earlier – working out gets the blood going, makes you feel energized and focused, carries tons of health benefits, makes you feel better about yourself and helps you get to sleep a bit earlier. Getting a good 8 hours of sleep will do wonders for your concentration and stress levels.
You need to make sure that you are taking several of these steps, and actively trying to minimize your workload and to balance your work and your personal life.
No one can be satisfied at work all the time – even those who love what they do get bored or frustrated at times – and everyone will have to take on a bit of extra work sometime, but if you are always stressed, tired, chasing deadlines and spend very little time with the important people in your life, you are definitely experiencing a mental burnout. Luckily, there are a bunch of things that you can do recover, but you need to identify the signs