By Hank Berkowitz
It’s the middle of summer. You’re working an overnight shift again while it seems as if everyone else in the world is relaxing at home with friends or family or getting a good night’s rest. But if you think you’re the only telecommunicator burning the proverbial candle at both ends, you’re not alone.
Any of this sounding familiar?
Burnout is the result of chronic unmanaged stress, and symptoms include feeling worn down and depleted of one’s physical, mental and emotional capacity and durability. As a result, sufferers often feel overwhelmed, exhausted and feel that work is no longer meaningful. Experts say there are two types of burnout: short term and long term. Short-term burnout is a highly stressful time in your life that involves a move, a wedding, a huge project or a big conference. Long-term stress is more daunting because it has no finite end. Long-term stress manifests itself in a series of life patterns that can follow you from job to job or from relationship to relationship.
Admit It: You’re Stressed
Most burned-out folks are going so fast they don’t even realize it. It can be a big problem in any office when there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it. Perhaps it’s common sense to realize that honesty in the workplace, not work/life balance per se, is what helps people reduce stress the most. If you’re in the lead role in your office, strive to create a culture where coworkers and superiors can be honest with each other about what’s expected and what they’re doing, and deal with any new problems on the horizon.
Some folks meditate or do yoga to cope with stress. Some run or take long walks. Others hit the heavy bag or whack a few buckets of balls at the driving range or batting cage. However you choose to burn off steam, experts say it’s important to recognize the earliest signs of burnout and understand the coping mechanism that works best for you. We’re learning that stress management is a “personal journey” that neither your human resource department nor a trusted coworker can really help you with. Take lots of short mental health breaks throughout the day—and don’t feel guilty about doing so. It’s essential to re-energize and recharge regularly. The biggest issue is recognizing the problem and doing something about it that makes sense to you and that gets results.
Hank Berkowitz is moderator in chief at associationadviser.com.