We live in the times where being busy is considered a virtue. We hear our friends and colleagues bragging about how many hours a week they work. There is constant social pressure to work harder and longer. In this situation it is hard to stop and think about your attitude towards your job.
Majority of articles covering the topic of burnout talk only about how to deal with symptoms, not with the cause of it. Although it is important to know how to relax and find time for yourself, you should primarily focus on what makes you miserable. It does not mean that you should quit your job immediately and move to India, as pop culture is telling us. If you are struggling with burnout, here are some helpful information and tips.
The first thing you should do is define your problem. Burnout contains of 3 main parts: exhaustion, cynicism and lack of accomplishment or efficacy. What are main sources of burnout at work?
- Inconsistent expectations about your behaviours. You need to know what your obligations, duties and rights are. Studies have proven that employees who were not provided with clear information about their responsibilities suffered from emotional exhaustion and fatigue. In this situation you should try to establish your role and if in doubt seek help from your boss or colleagues.
- Unfairness. You need to feel appreciated and treated as good as any other employee. Moreover, being included in the decision making process is crucial to your sense of fairness. Secrets and undeserved promotions at your job may significantly decrease your performance. Make sure that you are valued: do not be afraid to ask for a promotion if you think you deserve it. Search for other possibilities: maybe somewhere else you will be more appreciated?
- Lack of control. This issue, when combined with high demands, may lead to high levels of stress and even heart diseases. If you struggle with this problem, you should take care of your work-life balance: take some days off, use relaxation techniques, do not be afraid to seek professional help.
- Insufficient rewards and punishments. Being rewarded or punished is a way of getting information about your performance. Not receiving feedback about your actions may decrease your motivation. You may feel undercompensated or not recognised. Try to ask for as much feedback as you can: your surrounding may not be aware of this problem.
- Lack of group support. Effective support group provides emotional support as well as technical support in areas related to work. If the need of support is not fulfilled, it is much harder to cope with every other issue. You should surround yourself with people who share similar values and perception of reality. Try to build better relations with your colleagues.
If you are struggling with burnout, do not hesitate and take an action. Seek professional help, talk to your boss or colleagues about your issues, recognise their sources. Burnout can affect anyone: doctors, psychologists, factory workers, managers and even students. Do not be afraid to start the conversation about it.
Schwab, R. L., Jackson, S. E., & Schuler, R. S. (1986). Educator burnout: Sources and consequences. Educational Research Quarterly, 10(3), 14-30.
Magda Domańska is a master’s-degree student at the University of Warsaw, Poland. She is interested in educational psychology and family therapy. She is participating in a summer internship programme at Willingness.com.mt.