Ask yourself these five simple questions and find out if you are experiencing burnout...
So, you’re back from your Easter break and still feel exhausted, and not at all refreshed by your so-called relaxing holiday. You are dreading going back to work and don’t feel like you have really had any time to switch off, and you know that by the end of your first day (or even hour!) back at work you are going to feel like you never had any time away at all. If this sounds like you then you could be suffering from burnout.
Ask yourself these five simple questions and find out if what you are experiencing is burnout, or whether you could be at risk of burning out…
Do I feel tired even before I even start work?
Feeling fatigued before you have even started your workday can be a sign that you are burned out. You may feel worn out at the prospect of the day ahead, and overwhelmed at your current workload, with no clear idea of how you will tackle it. This is more than just needing an extra shot of caffeine in your mug because your stayed up a little late watching your favourite box set. This is a deep-seated weariness that you carry with you throughout the day.
Do I talk about my work in a negative way?
Once upon a time, maybe when you first started your job, you would enthusiastically tell your friends and family about what you had been doing at work, your plans for progression and your proud achievements. If that feels like a very long time ago and your personal narrative about work has shifted completely to only negative comments and observations, then this could be an indication of burnout. Sure, everyone has bad days, but if you genuinely can’t remember when you last had something positive to say about your work and the negative energy you feel when talking about your job feels like a weight around your neck, then it could be time to do something about it.
Do I lack the energy to enjoy leisure activities outside of work?
Have you noticed a change in the pattern of how you spend your leisure time? Did you used to be an active member of a club or a team that you would consciously carve out time to attend, but now find excuses not to attend? Changes in how you spend your leisure time and what you do to relax and unwind can be linked to how emotionally drained and physically exhausted you feel after dealing with the myriad of other pressures in your life. If you are no longer prioritising your leisure time, or it now no longer brings you the release and switch off time it used to then it may be time to find out why.
Do I feel less energised and excited about the future?
When you feel that your job has a real purpose and meaning, you feel engaged, and the future looks bright. You can clearly see the role that your work plays in building that future, however small, and that feels good. If, however, you work tasks are starting to feel pointless and you really can’t visualise doing this type of work in the weeks, months and years to come then you may be on the path to burnout. Feeling like the work you do has little or no benefit to the overall big picture is incredibly draining and needs to addressed, perhaps through looking at different options or exploring what has led you to feel so disengaged.
Do I keep going off sick and then returning to work?
This yo-yo pattern of taking short periods time off work with stress, and then returning, only to repeat the whole cycle again is a classic sign of burnout. The time off feels momentarily like a relief but then you dread going back to work as you know that nothing has really changed. When you are back at work you just feel like you are going through the motions, or you feel guilty that you have let your colleagues down by going off sick, so you just feel like you are hanging in there.
If you answered yes to some or all the above questions, then you could be experiencing burnout. Burnout is not the same as stress. An optimal level of stress in the workplace is actually beneficial for performance and feeling a sense of engagement and purpose. Burnout is different and can creep up on you, in stealth mode, without you properly recognising it until feel like you feel like you are reaching breaking point.
If you’d like to find out more, you can take a short test to determine your burnout score and what actions you can take, if required.
You might also be interested in our Free Yourself From Burnout Programme, a five-day, outdoor immersive experience in which you get to address the triggers of burnout and learn new behaviours to break the cycle once and for all. For more information click here.