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Published on May 4, 2020

How To Recover Fast When You Are Burned Out From Work

How To Recover Fast When You Are Burned Out From Work

Professionals who experienced burnout from work are most times unhappy about their lives. They are also dissatisfied about their accomplishments at work.

When you are continually struggling to cope with stress at the workplace, you are placing yourself at high risk of getting burnout.

Burnout can come with physical and mental symptoms. Meanwhile, you can suffer from burnout even if you are satisfied with your job and career. Therefore, learning how to recover from burnout is essential if you want to continue being productive and satisfied in your life and career.

Does Exhaustion Cause All Burnouts?

Christina Maslach and Herbert Freudenberger coined the term “burnout” in the 70s[1]. As psychologists, they independently understudied the impact of burnout on health workers and social service workers. They targeted their respondents based on chronic stress experienced as well as the volume of interaction they had with others daily.

They discovered that burnout is not necessarily about exhaustion. There could be a detachment that comes in the form of displaying cynical behaviors towards clients or colleagues.

Also, It could come in the form of a sense of hopelessness or self-defeat with work.

Christina subsequently came up with the Maslach Burnout Inventory, or MBI. This model is an inventory of 22 things that measure the three dimensions of burnout-depersonalization,emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment. This model eventually turned out to be a measuring tool or a blueprint in the industry.[2]

Also, a group of Danish Scientists developed a newer model known as the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, or CBI. This model analyzed burnout on three dimensions: personal, work-related, and client-related.[3]

All the aforementioned burnout models are quite complex, so instead of looking at them, consider these symptoms.

Symptoms of Burnout From Work

You might be experiencing burnout from work if you:

  • Have lost interest in your present job or project but cannot terminate it.
  • Are always exhausted.
  • Need to motivate yourself to carry out the smallest tasks.
  • Are compensated less compared to the value you bring into the job or project.
  • Withdraw from interacting with others.
  • Become short-tempered while communicating with clients and colleagues.
  • Retire to bad habits like drugs, alcohol, high sugar intake, sedentary lifestyle, or overeating.
  • Question life and career choices generally.

Are you battling any of these symptoms?

The good news is that you can come out of it once you become aware of them.

5 Job Burnout Triggers

There are many things that may trigger burnout. Here are the most common culprits.

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1. Workload

You can be more productive when you are working on a huge workload that aligns with your capacity. You will face more opportunities to rest and recover. It will also be an avenue for you to develop yourself and grow.

That’s not the case when you are overloaded with work. You will lose the chance of regaining your balance.

2. Absence of Autonomy

The feeling that you don’t have access to vital resources and a say in various decisions that affect your professional life can impact your health.

For instance, do you receive calls from your boss all night? Does your company saddle you with responsibilities beyond your capacity? Do you have what it takes to influence your work environment?

3. Environment

Who do you collaborate with? How trusting and supportive are those work relationships? In some instances, you can’t choose your work environment or colleagues, but you can optimize the relationship.

Your environment can upgrade your engagement or downgrade it.

4. Reward

In case the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards on the job do not align with the level of effort you exert, you may eventually feel your effort is not being sufficiently acknowledged or rewarded.

For instance, you may need a face-time with your employer, positive feedback, or an increase in your compensation.

Find out which reward makes you feel appreciated and seek avenues to receive more of it.

5. Values Mismatch

If you are working in an organization that doesn’t share your same values, you will continue to see a decline in your level of motivation. Motivations and values are inbuilt in people and organizations. For instance, if you strongly believe in making an impact first, before money, you will experience burnout on the job in an organization that prioritizes money over impact.

How Long Does Burnout Last?

A major question most people who suffer burnout from work ask is, “How long will my burnout last?” They want to know, understandably, when they will have their drive back.

For Sarah, she could not say precisely when those depressive episodes started, but her doctor could trace them to March 2015 when she started showing some symptoms, such as random pain, palpitations, extreme fatigue, and other newfound allergies.

“It seems my burnout was around way before then—months or maybe years,” she says. It built up until her doctor advised her to take sick leave.[4]

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For Sarah, a kindergarten teacher in her late 50s, it took her over a year and a half, and the recovery is still ongoing.[5]

Other cases may need to go through a one-year rehabilitation program coupled with six-month follow-up.[6]

So how do you recover when you are burned out from work?

5 Strategies to Recover When You Are Burned out

The following strategies may help you bounce back from burnout.

1. Focus On Your Projects

The famous American Psychologist Abraham Maslow, in 1943, reiterated that anyone could achieve happiness as long as they can express themselves and maximize their potential.

This is what he termed “self-actualization.” He warned:

“The story of the human race is that of men and women selling themselves short.”[7]

Successful leaders of companies understand the significance of self-actualization. That’s why they allow their employees to work on personal or social projects. They also enable their workers to come up with and own social projects which they implement as corporate social responsibilities.

In case you’re working at a 9-5 job, ensure you dedicate some hours early in the morning and late in the night on personal projects, such as a blog or an app that solves problems for others.

That way, you can express your values while striving to attain your professional goals.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Meditation is an age-long and time-tested strategy to deal with burnout. According to research from Denmark, sustained meditation is connected to an improved gray matter density in your brain stem.[8]

You can rewire your mind and brain to be more focused and productive by practicing meditation daily. Take a 10-minute break during work or early in the morning to practice mindfulness.

Here’s another strategy you can use:

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Anytime you are working on a boring and repetitive task, avoid thinking about something else and focus on the task before you.

3. Detoxify Through Exercise

Toxins are poisons locked up in your system. One way you can detoxify is through exercise. Exercise can increase your heart rate, which pumps blood faster and detoxifies your system.

Have you noticed that you naturally feel better after a prolonged exercise that raises your blood pressure?

Anxiety is one of the major symptoms you will experience when you’re burned out from work, and exercise is a great way to quickly relieve that anxiety.

Joshua Broman, in a 2004 study, revealed that students who practiced exercise became less sensitive to anxiety.[9] Several additional studies have buttressed this benefit.

Incorporate regular exercise into your routine by ensuring you jog or swim before work, take a long and strenuous walk in the afternoon, or spend some time in your gym in the evening.

Once you form a good habit of practicing regular exercise, it won’t be long before you start to experience a significant recovery from burnout.

4. Practice Journaling

Writing can heal. Writing about your emotions and experiences helps you to process them, which can expedite the healing process.

Jeremy Nobel and Heather Stuckey of Foundation For Art & Healing also supported the notion that writing your experiences can generate lasting improvements in your mood and health.[10]

How do you experience this healing when you are burned out from work?

Keep a professional journal!

For instance, you can take a thirty-minute break during your weekends or quiet moments to assess your performance, progress, and the challenges you have faced in the past few days.

Itemize your achievements — the projects as well as the challenges that are holding you back. You can also list some uncertainties or questions about your present work.That way, you can discover patterns in your professional life and reflect on the next action to take.

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Journaling can enable you to discover solutions to potential issues before they surface. This technique is highly practicable for those who love expressing themselves. However, if you don’t enjoy writing, you can use the bullet point format or memo feature on your phone to record answers to those questions.

5. Estimate the Tasks

Do you often feel like a superhuman when it comes to working, and then barely complete half of what you have planned to do?

If this is a common problem for you, try to learn how to accurately estimate how much time a task will take and how many tasks you can do in a day. When in doubt, overestimate the time.

It takes practice to become perfect in estimating tasks. Nevertheless, a surefire strategy that you can use to ensure you are working on the most important tasks is called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

The Matrix showcases four different boxes on prioritizing tasks.

They are:

  • Urgent
  • Not urgent
  • Important
  • Not important

It also provides further actionable steps for each priority box.

You can recover from burnout by revamping your work strategy using this model. Find out what task deserves the best of your attention and in what order by establishing priorities.

Final Thoughts

Burnout from work is not only about getting exhausted. It is a multidimensional issue that demands a multifaceted solution.

Don’t forget, you need to diagnose the problem first and make the best effort to change. If, despite all, you still fail, then you might need to reassess your work and decide if you’re where you need to be.

More Tips on Dealing with Burnout

Featured photo credit: Doğukan Şahin via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

More on Constructive Feedback

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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