How Job Burnout Affects Your Health, and Tips for Recovery

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The signs of job burnout are fairly easy to recognize. You feel stressed and unhappy at work. Solving problems seems impossible or pointless. You feel exhausted, cynical, irritable, and unsatisfied. However, job burnout doesn’t just impact your mental state. It can also affect your overall health.

Job burnout results from prolonged periods of excessive stress, and excessive stress has a serious impact on your body. It can lead to changes in your sleep habits and appetite. It can depress your immune system, thus leading to frequent illness. It can cause headaches, muscle aches, and back pain, and it can sap your energy. Left unaddressed, stress can also cause serious long-term problems, from depression to heart disease.

Luckily, the problems of job burnout are well documented, and a number of strategies exist to help you cope with it. You may want to employ the following process:

1. Evaluate how deep your burnout is—If you’re just starting to feel it, you may be able to change your outlook on work and take better care of your body to turn things around. If you’re deep in burnout, however, you need to act more aggressively.

2. Accept that you need to slow down—Your burnout has negatively affected your body, and you need to give it time to recover. Start paring back commitments and responsibilities to give yourself the space you need to relax.

3. Turn to friends and family for support—It can be difficult to reach out to others when burnout has exhausted you, but having people to talk to about your problems is essential. Some employers also offer employee assistance programs specifically equipped to deal with burnout.

4. Get introspective—Once you have the time to recover and establish a support network, it’s time to begin addressing the causes of your burnout. Ask yourself why this happened. You may find that you need to change your job or career, or that you’ve lost the sense of purpose with which you entered the workforce and need to find it again. Be willing to accept the pain of whatever you’ve lost and move through it to discover something more meaningful on the other side.

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