Escape emotional burnout by giving yourself permission to slow down, avoid the immediate demands and expectations of others, and to rest. This is key to your survival and effectiveness.
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, describes burnout as,
A ‘silent condition’ induced by chronic stress characterized by emotional [or] physical exhaustion, cynicism and a lack of professional efficacy.
Having not acknowledged for a long time the signs of burnout, I know, first hand, the detrimental impact of this ‘silent condition’ when left unchecked.
My experience, though painful at the time, was invaluable learning, so in this post I’ll suggest some questions to ask to identify this condition, and highlight a number of causes that you’ll need to be aware of if you want to avoid it.
How do you know if you’re experiencing burnout?
Start by making a list of the different areas of your life, e.g. family, business, church, and even activities such as social media.
Once your list is complete, allocate 10 minutes to answer the following questions:
- Am I starting to disregard my responsibilities to…?
- Am I struggling to stay motivated about…?
- Do I find I’m not looking forward to…?
- Am I regularly finding it hard to concentrate or focus on…?
- Am I becoming irritable and losing patience quickly with…?
- Am I lacking energy to be consistently productive in…?
- Have I lost my passion for…?
- Am I feeling disillusioned about…?
- Am I lacking satisfaction from my achievements in…?
Having honestly answered these questions, you’ll have identified where you might need to make some changes if you’re to avoid burnout.
So, having explored some questions that helped you assess how you’re doing, let’s take a look at just 7 causes of burnout, that relate particularly to work.
#1. Unclear expectations
Being unclear about your role, working with ambiguous expectations, and having a lack of clarity regarding your authority, can lead to burnout. Change is a necessary requirement for growth, and should be welcomed, but if your experience is one where change occurs too frequently, this can have negative consequences.
#2. Lack of control
A sense of being dis-empowered and unable to influence decisions that impact you directly – particularly around your workload, scheduling and responsibilities, can result in burnout. Again, linked to change, if the goal posts move too often, and you’re not effectively engaged in the process, you’ll develop an unhealthy apprehension.
#3. Playing out of position
Being given responsibilities that you either don’t enjoy, or that aren’t in line with your strengths for a prolonged period of time, can result in burnout. You’ll grow frustrated and discontent if the majority of your energy is spent on things that aren’t connected to your talents, and that bore the socks of you!
#4. Lack of relational support
Working in an environment where you feel relationally isolated and unsupported, can result in burnout. You need to feel able to trust and connect with people beyond superficial platitudes, and to be comfortable in being yourself without fear of judgement.
#5. Family commitments
If your work consumes excessive amounts of emotional energy and causes you to be less available for your family, this can result in burnout. Nothing is more demoralising than knowing that your family aren’t getting the best of you, and that despite your best efforts, you’re unable to attend to their needs.
#6. Losing sight of your priorities
If the majority of your daily activities aren’t in sync with what’s most important to you, you’ll lose motivation. This can result in burnout. Any consistent task that isn’t in line with what you consider as being most meaningful and fulfilling, you’ll be derailed, as they’ll drain rather than energize you.
#7. Ignoring the 3 R’s
Neglecting the importance of rest, relaxation and respite, can result in burnout. Scheduling these into your diary may seem a little humorous, but if you don’t book them in, you’ll effectively have booked them out. Booking in time for you, that’s aimed at nothing more than rest, relaxation, and respite, is more important than attending multiple team meetings.
Develop the art of doing nothing
It’s only when you learn and practice the art of doing nothing, that you’ll be able to survive the long haul. The degree to which you succeed will be in direct correlation to your ability to recognise and respond to these 7 causes of burnout. Taking time to pause, reflect, consolidate, and rest, is key to your health and well-being, and essential to your effectiveness.
Over to you…
What experience have you, or anyone you know, had of burnout? Write your thoughts or comments in the box below.
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 Christine Louise Hohlbaum; The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, St. Martin’s Press (