Do you have to drag your body out of bed on weekday mornings? Does the idea of spending another day at the office fill you with dread? Are you finding it harder and harder to get excited about your job and the work that you do?
If so, chances are good that you are suffering from job burnout. This has been a big topic at tech conferences in the past year (I'm in the tech industry) but I think it applies far beyond tech.
According to the Mayo Clinic, work-related burnout is a form of stress that can cause us to feel mentally, emotionally or physically tired. It can give us unusual doubts about our abilities to perform as well as we usually do. Job burnout can also lead to unpleasant symptoms like headaches, a change in appetite, and poor sleep.
Why Do We Get Burned Out?
Although the reasons we feel burned out at work vary from person to person and job to job, some common culprits include feeling out of control at work. For example, having little or no say over your schedule or assignments, or having a micromanager as a boss can be triggers. When you're spending so much of your day at work, that it feels like there's never enough time or energy to be with your family and friends doing activities that you enjoy, that's when burnout sets in.
Fortunately, these negative and unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms do not have to last forever. There are steps that you can take to reduce job burnout.
Identify What is Causing the Stress
One of the best ways to reduce job burnout is to have an honest conversation with yourself about what is causing you to feel so miserable in the first place. If you feel you spend too many hours in the office, consider approaching your supervisor about the possibility of telecommuting. Or, ask if you can have more of a say in the projects or assignments you're part of in the future.
Take Responsibility For Your Own Well-Being
This is a saying I use a lot, and it relates to the previous point. When they feel stuck, sometimes people need to be reminded that they can take action to shape their lives - maybe that's you, sometimes.
For example, take the initiative to share your goals and aspirations with your boss; that can help them see you in a different light and reduce the risk that you'll be "type cast" in a specific, confining role. Or, you may have skills and talents that they don't know about, so you can make them aware the things you're good at doing. Or, perhaps a particular aspect of the job is energizing to you and you can ask them to let you do more of that type of work.
Realize That Your Job is Not Set in Stone
As the Huffington Post notes, if your best efforts to change the negative work environment do not pay off, you might want to consider changing your job. Sometimes giving yourself permission to start looking for a new career can be incredibly freeing. Take some time to research different jobs that might appeal to you, and if you can, talk to folks who are already working in those fields. For example, if you have always dreamed about owning your own restaurant, maybe you could speak with some local café owners to get an idea of how much work might be involved. Or, if you have always wanted to work with children, you might consider volunteering at a school to see if being around kids is truly for you. There are websites and services can also help you determine which new career path might be best, and they can even offer educational opportunities to turn your dreams into reality. For instance, if a career in the pharmaceutical field sounds appealing, organizations like the Penn Foster school offer convenient online education opportunities, including a pharmacy technician career diploma.
Nurture Your Non-Work Interests
As Lisa Gerry's article in Forbes explains, it is important to have interests and hobbies that have absolutely nothing to do with work. For example, consider volunteering your time with a local charity. You can involves with a pet rescue group, sign up for a fun fitness class at the gym, or pick up that old box of stamps you collected as a kid and see if you can renew your love of all things philatelic. When you are passionate about something other than work, it can help to keep your life in a better balance.
This can also be a good reminder to create better boundaries between work and home or hobbies. If you check email all the time when you aren't at work, your whole life can feel like work. Try to consciously "switch" from work to home when you leave, to give yourself that physical and psychological break that you need to recharge.
Make Sure You are Getting Enough Z’s
Speaking of recharging, if you are routinely burning the midnight oil, do what you can to get more rest. Being sleep deprived can not only impact your mood and job performance, but it can also make you less motivated, making it more difficult to focus and get work done in a timely manner. Getting more sleep will probably help you get your work done sooner, which will allow you to spend less time in the office and more time doing things you enjoy.
Take Care Of Your Physical Health
A lot of what I've presented here is psychological, but don't overlook the value of your physical health. As I mentioned recently, I've been focusing more of my attention on diet and exercise, and it has helped me a lot - not just from a 'vital signs' perspective, but by increasing my energy level, improving my sleep, and helping me feel better about what I'm doing both at work and away from the job.
The bottom line? If you are feeling burned out, don't just settle for a life of drudgery. There is plenty you can do to improve things.