In a tough economy we work harder to make a living, keep our jobs and win our customers. In the UK it is also our work culture to continue working through our lunchtime and eat at our desks. Working long hours is becoming the norm especially for managers and sales people as they struggle to meet targets.
But how sustainable is this practice? How long can you keep up this level of energy? At what point will your body say ‘No’ either through consistent stress, exhaustion, breakdown, high blood pressure or heart attacks?
So what are the signs that you are heading towards a possible burnout?
Feeling a sense of failure and self-doubt
Feeling tired and drained most of the time
Loss of motivation
Lowered immunity, feeling unwell on a regular basis
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastinating where previously you were decisive
More cynical and negative towards work
Withdrawing from responsibilities
Reduced satisfaction and sense of achievement
Recognise any of these symptoms? Burnout tends to occur as a result of unrelenting stress. It often happens when you get to the point that no matter what you do, it is not enough. So, what can you do?
Spot the signs
Recognize the symptoms above and listen to what is said by people who care about you. Compare your ‘normal’ behaviours before this began to what is happening now and notice the differences. What are you doing that makes it obvious to others that you are heading towards oblivion?
Identify the causes
Look back and assess when the problems began. Are you trying to take on more than you can reasonably handle? Analyse your workload and evaluate whether this is achievable. Talk to your line manager about seeking support. It is better for them if you tell them now instead of not turning up one day and somebody has to try and take over at short notice. Delegate more to your colleagues. Set yourself limits and work to them. It’s amazing how we can adapt to shorter working hours if we just try. Ask others to nag you in this respect!
Build some resilience to future stress and burnout
Adopt healthy eating, sleeping and exercising strategies, even if this means taking the stairs instead of the lift. Protect the most important thing in your life – your body. Remember without this working properly you cannot work anyway. You wouldn’t let your car run without oil or maintenance because you know eventuality it will conk out. Treat your body in the same way. Let your engine rest a while and treat it with care.
Common sense tells us that these things are right. Unfortunately this sense is not very common and despite knowing the dangers people continue anyway. Take the signs as a warning and do something about it now!
Senior Management Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training