While striving hard in your career is commendable, be mindful that too much chronic stress can affect your well-being and eventually lead to job burnout.
Are you walking down the path of burnout unknowingly? Recognise the signs and take concrete actions to combat it.
Ms Heng Teng Teng, a career coach with more than six years of experience, said: “Burnout is a prolonged state where people are physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted due to demands from their jobs. Over time, this causes them to lose interest in other areas of their lives, such as social and family interaction.”
Mr Adrian Tan, a career coach with more than 10 years of experience, said burnout is a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about one’s competence and the value of one’s work.
Why do people suffer job burnout?
Various long-term stressors people face can contribute to an eventual burnout. This is especially so when demands placed on them outweigh their abilities and resources to meet these expectations.
Ms Heng said: “Reasons why people suffer burnout can be long working hours, demanding requests they have to accede to, aggressive performance targets to hit, tight resources and constantly needing to prove their worth.”
If you are constantly under immense work pressure, take action to prevent yourself from eventually suffering from a job burnout.
1. Acknowledge the issue
Do not sweep the problem under the carpet and wait for it to go away.
Ms Heng said: “Take concrete steps to resolve the issue. Re-evaluate your current work practices and workload. If you cannot manage your workload well, it is unlikely you can sustain producing good quality work. Think of long-term solutions and apply them, rather than short-term quick fixes.”
2. Set aside time for relaxation
Ms Heng recommended giving yourself permission to take a break from work.
She said: “Set appropriate boundaries and refrain from checking e-mails or answering calls during those periods. For example, Sunday can be a time to rest and recharge.”
Have an active non-work life. Keeping to a regular exercise routine helps to release the physical tension and stiffness accumulated from sitting at your desk for long hours. Being part of interest or hobby groups can help to take your mind off work and leave you feeling more recharged.
3. Increase your work productivity
Mr Tan recommended dropping unnecessary tasks to give additional attention to more important ones.
Be organised. Put aside 10 minutes to 15 minutes at the start of each workday to plan your day and week ahead. With competing deadlines and rapidly changing priorities, list all the tasks you have to complete and highlight those that are more urgent or important. Often, job stress is related to time – having to accomplish something within a specific time limit.
As mornings are usually when you are the most well-rested and alert, attend to urgent or important priorities first, although they may not be the most enjoyable or simplest of tasks.
During the course of the day, allocate time for strategic breaks to rejuvenate yourself and get more work accomplished.
4. Concentrate on what you can control
Identify the sources of your stress and differentiate between those you can control and those you cannot. Be positive and stop agonising over matters you have no control over, such as how your supervisor works.
Instead, channel your energy into areas you can control, like improving your productivity level or the quality of your work. Spending effort on what you can control propels you forward and invigorates you.
5. Re-evaluate your strengths, passion and values
Ideally, your career should be in line with the above three factors. People are more fulfilled when their careers are meaningful, and offer them opportunities to utilise their skills and excel in their areas of expertise.
If you feel your current job offers you none of these aspects, it is time to rethink if you are truly suitable for it.
Are you at risk of burnout?
1. Are you under the impression that your abilities and hard work do not gain much recognition?
2. Do you regularly sleep less than six hours daily to cope with work demands?
3. Do you regularly work seven days a week without sufficient rest?
4. Are you starting to lose interest in the other areas of your life?
5. Do you feel anxious at work most of the time?
6. Do you often doubt your competence level and the value of your work?
7. Are you getting more irritable and impatient with yourself and others?
8. Do you burst into tears at work often?
This article was first published in The Straits Times Classified.
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