How to Avoid Burnout at Work

By Nan Nan Liu-Maffetone | Strong Female Leaders | Reading Time: Five Minutes



Are you suffering from burnout at work?
If you continuously feel exhausted, irritated and unmotivated at work, you are most likely suffering from burnout. So what now? Do you look for a new job? Speak with a professional? Or take medical leave? The best remedy is to prevent burnout at work before it happens. To do that, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you have time to rest and recover?
When it comes to mental and emotional health at work, balance is key. To achieve balance, you must be able to both rest and recover from periods of deep and heavy work. A workload that outweighs capacity can stress you out. So you must learn how to keep the work load balanced, by planning and prioritizing properly, delegating wisely, and letting go of things that you cannot control.
While we all want to do our best, we must not let perfectionism weigh us down. If you have been over-stretching yourself without much rest or recovery, it is time to take a break before breaking down.
2. Do you lack autonomy?
A lack of autonomy indicates a lack of control. At work, it may result from various root causes. Some of the common ones include feeling social pressure from team members, a constant shift in priorities, or a lack of control at home. While you cannot change your circumstances, you can change your approach. You can set firm boundaries with teammates, highlight organizational inefficiencies of shifting priorities to key stakeholders, and take personal leave to work things out on the home front. Gaining back control isn't about having a type A personality, but about getting back a sense of self. When outside pressure dims your inner light, you will burn out quickly. Before that happens, take action and refuel yourself, so you can continue to shine.
3. Are you being rewarded fairly?
There are two types of rewards: extrinsic and intrinsic. You need to both to feel accomplished and respected at work.

Extrinsic rewards include raises, promotions, public recognitions and bonuses. It also includes non-traditional compensations such as extra days off for working overtime during a particularly demanding project, or the ability to work remotely, after COVID too, if your industry permits. Whichever extrinsic reward means the most to you, address it to your superior. If you feel like you have earned it, you should receive it. If you get turned down, it is okay. However, do realize that there is a chance that you and your work place are misaligned in value. If this is the case, you should look elsewhere for a similar position. When values misalign, the relationship rarely works out in the long run. It's better to end it early, and on friendly terms, than to drag it out and cause harm.

Intrinsic rewards come from how well you are treated by others, including leadership, team members, clients and partners. Ask yourself: are you being appreciated for helping others? Is your name mentioned during presentations that you contributed to? Are your opinions and recommendations being considered seriously, or dismissed, ignored and turned down harshly? If you feel disrespected in anyway, address it with the person, in private and politely of course. If they dismiss or rebuttal your requests, then at least you took action to stand up for yourself. That alone can prevent a burnout.

4. Are you being properly supported?
When you confide in your teammates, do they brush you off, give you the cold shoulder, or listen with dedicated attention? Do you feel cared for and included, or ignored and left out? Does your workplace feel like high school, or a mature, open and professional space?

The workplace culture plays an important role in your overall wellbeing. If it operates in a clique-y, highschool-like manner, and lack a supportive structure, you will burn out from the day-to-day emotional detachment. You can, however, shift the dynamic. Reach out to teammates who seem disengaged. Listen to their problems without judgement or pushing your own opinions. Kindness spread as quickly as burnouts. When you make incremental behaviorial changes, you create a culture of inclusion, kindness and respect.

It takes one person to turn the ship around, and she could be you.
Parting thhoughts
Burnout doesn't just happen. It accumulates from multi-faceted issues overtime until it reaches a tipping out. The good news is: now, as soon as you recognize the symptoms, you can prevent it.

As a knowledge professional, your choices are limitless. If your current workplace is driving you towards burnout, take a break. Or, take another opportunity. You hold the key to your happiness, and no one else is entitled to that.
1) Be the type of Leaders Who Last


2) Find more ways to avoid burnout at High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout


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