Not every day at work is going to be perfect. Trust me- I love my job but there are days where I just wish I had stayed in bed. That being said, if you’re having more bad days than good, you might be suffering from burnout. Here are a few symptoms that I use personally to tell when I am burning out and tips on combating them. Note that this is to fix symptoms. Fixing burnout itself takes time and effort. This is basically my band-aid solution until you are able to take time off for yourself to heal.
1. You’re irritable or impatient.
You might be incredibly cynical or critical at work. This is one of my personal triggers and the second I start losing patience with colleagues, I start to question if it’s just a bad day or if I am on the way to burnout.
The Fix: Notice when you keep getting more annoyed than usual and track your triggers. I do this by keeping a journal. When I know it’s burnout season, I try to be kinder both to myself and others.
2.You lose interest in your job.
You feel like going to work is a huge effort and so is doing your job itself. Again, everyone has bad days but if this is happening more often than not, you might be experiencing burnout.
The Fix: Make a list of all the things you like about your job. You wouldn’t still be at your job if there wasn’t something positive about it. This is also a great time to start gratitude journaling. I remember one coworker who was having a tough time at work and her gratitude list started off with “Sushi”. (TBH the work environment was super-stressful but I loved that she could find a positive aspect).
3. You’re struggling to sleep
This one is probably the most tricky to fix. Maybe you’re having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Maybe you’ve been using your bedtime as a form of revenge procrastination, pushing it further and further until it’s 2AM and you realise you have work in a few hours. Whatever it is, sleep is vital for your performance as a functioning human.
The Fix: Try to keep similar sleeping and waking times. Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Come up with an unwinding routine that brings you joy. I absolutely love tea followed by 30 mins of reading.
4. You’ve developed unhealthy coping mechanisms like food, alcohol or shopping
This is another one of my trigger items and honestly all I can say is keep an eye for it. This is another tricky one but helps if you have a partner to hold you accountable.
The Fix: Try to get a buddy to monitor when these get out of control. I work virtually but my friends and I have the habit of checking on each other when it comes to lunch because we’re guilty of skipping meals when things get busy.
5. You have physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches or body pain
Physical symptoms can either result from you working too hard or in an uncomfortable position. Or it can be a result of the stress.
The Fix: Again, track what your triggers are. Are you taking regular breaks away from your desk? Are you sitting in one position for too long? Does your chair need an upgrade?
The best way to combat burnout is to analyse what is going on, what is causing your symptoms and fix the root of the issue. But if you can’t or you’re not willing to put in the time (talking to myself there but the year end is right around the corner), treating the symptoms will help…up to a point.
The faster you treat burnout, the faster you’re able to be you again.