Tuesday, September 1

Symptoms and Prevention of Burnout

Butterfly in magic 3Image by Diogo Drigo via Flickr
Thoughts of leaving my nine-to-five job to work as a freelancer have been dancing in my mind. Lately, I have been experiencing this trapped feeling whenever I think of work. There's a strong urge to just drop everything, buy an RV and get my RV insurance, and drive away, leaving behind a stressful life in the city. These thoughts and feelings are not there without a reason, I know. They are probably symptoms of an oncoming bout with burnout.

Burnout is defined by HelpGuide.org as a "state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress." It can happen when a person feels so overwhelmed with the constant demands of work. There are general feelings of frustration and desperation, which cause a high level of stress.

As the stress continues to bombard the person's day-today-life, he or she begins to lose the interest or motivation to work, or to even take responsibility for one's work.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps a person's energy, leaving feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, cynicism, and resentment. Eventually, a person who is experiencing burnout may feel like there's nothing more to give. Eventually, they give up.

What are some ways to prevent burnout? Livestrong.com gives us the following tips in preventing burnout:

* Be informed of the expectations, scope of responsibilities, opportunity for advancement, supervision, job description, workload, evaluation criteria, benefits and salary of a job before accepting it.
* Identify goals and evaluate accordingly both at home and on the job.
* Maintain personal growth both at home and on the job.
* Seek out helpful supervision for your work both at home and on the job.
* Develop an active outside life with a variety of interests.
* Personalize your work and home environment with meaningful pictures, objects, colors, etc.
* Feel comfortable with yourself, set limits for yourself and know how far to become involved with family and colleagues.
* Encourage and practice good communication skills.
* Provide for flexible working conditions.
* Seek out encouragement for trying new ideas.
* Find your own "decompression techniques'' such as activities like meditation or exercise that relieve tension and put you into a more relaxed state.
* Build a support system for yourself with those who can discuss your problems and help look for solutions. Don't just air gripes, but look for solutions.

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