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Get off the Burnout Hamster Wheel

So you are having trouble focusing on work, you feel like you are running on one of those hamster wheels where you have been pouring your energy into something and you are no further ahead. Dissatisfied, disillusioned, overwhelmed and constantly stressed. Maybe even numb because you’ve given up hope things will change for the better.  In my previous article I talked about some of the signs and symptoms of occupational burnout. Today I want to focus on relief and shifting to recovery. Maslach and Leiter (The Truth About Burnout, 1997, Jossey-Bass) suggest that a key ingredient to burnout is the major mismatch between the nature of the person doing the job and the nature of the job itself. The work environment then is itself a major contributor to job burnout. Some people can find their way out of burnout and still remain in the same careers, however for some the solution is to leave and go elsewhere. Here are some tips that can help provide relief from burnout. 1.Take stock of stressors

  • Identify demands you have at work, home and community, identify which ones are causing you stress, which ones are draining you most?
  • List what can you influence by asking for help, delegating, saying NO more or YES more (i.e. Yes to your own needs)

2.Enhance self-care

  • Revisit what’s important to you, your dreams, values, goals and priorities.
  • Identify what you love to do – do more of these
  • Review and decide how to improve your sleep, healthy eating, and exercise habits
  • Take time away to self-rejuvenate (short breaks several times daily and time off/vacation)
  • Learn what your needs are and to communicate these

3.Develop stress resiliency

  • Use techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and meditation
  • Laugh and smile more
  • Be Ok with decisions you make
  • Build and use a supportive community
  • Find ways to be more present (live in the now; be observant of current surroundings

4.Make a commitment to changes

  • Make yourself top priority – Put yourself in your schedule
  • Identify changes you could make this week, this month, this year
  • Answer, “How do I know my life/career is on track? What is happening with my body, mind, emotions and spiritual aspects of my life/career?”  Then look at how you know when things are not on track and write down strategies to help you recover.
  • Find an accountability partner
  • Consider seeking professional assistance such as a counselor or coach

Remember, it often takes a long time to reach the point of burnout, so it will take time, energy and commitment to shift yourself back to a place of more alignment and balance.  Be gentle on yourself and yet stand firm in your commitment to create a career and a life that fills you up – you deserve it.

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