Job burnout is a real problem. Although it is not officially a medical condition, it was officially declared an “occupational phenomenon” in 2019. Our brains and body can only handle chronic stress and overwork for a limited time.
Stress is a result of the adrenaline response – the “fight or flight” reflex from our caveman days when we had to fend off sabre-tooth tigers. Our evolution did not factor in having to face mortal danger every single day!
Although we are no longer cavemen, those saber-tooth tigers have just taken on new forms and for our bodies and nervous systems, having to fend off saber-tooth tigers on the daily is unsustainable.
Therefore, if you are constantly under pressure and stressed out and you do not take steps to manage or reduce it, exhaustion will eventually take over, resulting in mental and physical burnout. Hello – burnout brick wall!
Burnout happens gradually – you might not notice symptoms immediately – but once it takes hold, it can adversely affect your quality of life, resulting in a state of physical or emotional exhaustion and loss of personal identity.
Here is a testimonial I received recently about a typical case of burnout:
“Just over ten years ago, I started what I thought was my dream job. It felt like my big break and I did not want to mess it up. I endeavoured to compensate for my inexperience in the role with a supercharged work-ethic that went above and beyond the call of duty. I also felt obliged to – really, it was coercion – by my work colleague, who was described by my boss as “difficult” – a euphemism for “bully” – and a “bit of a fuss-pot.” Read “control freak.” So, I ended up arriving early to my office job and stayed late —all the while obsessively worrying about my performance and my future. The nightmare co-worker did much to plant the seeds of this insecurity, until it was deep-rooted in my brain. She was a nutter who would yell and throw things. I had little autonomy, I never knew where I stood – if I used my initiative, I was acting above my station; if I did not act, I had failed to show initiative. I could not win. My boss, although a good man, seemed unwilling or unable to do anything. I felt trapped and isolated. I felt too ashamed of my situation to tell anyone, as I had effectively been brainwashed by my co-worker, who was also my supervisor, into believing that I was stupid and useless. A lot of people will take their work home with them – I endeavoured never to do that as I believe that one should work to live, not live to work. But I would be so mentally and emotionally exhausted, I’d spend the weekend in bed. I wanted to go out and do things, but my body totally vetoed that decision. When Corona hit, I was able to get out of there and now, although I am on less money, I am far, far happier.”
Other than the gaslighting from the colleague above, can you can relate to the lack of autonomy, no support, feeling isolated, taking your work home with you, and generally feeling too exhausted to do anything, then there is a high chance you are, or have, suffered from burnout and like me have probably faceplanted into the burnout brick wall on numerous occasions.
So, here are my Top Tips for swerving around that burnout wall before your face meets brick:
1. Identify immediate changes you can make
Do you have several jobs on the go that keep you working long hours, week after week?
Stop burning the candle at both ends – accept that doing it all isn’t realistic. Ask for help or if you have the ability to do so, outsource tasks in your business that can be outsourced. Cue the VA’s and social media managers. Stop being a people-pleaser – evaluate your existing commitments and consider cancelling or rescheduling a few. The immediate relief this brings may surprise you.
2. Tell someone!
A problem shared is a problem halved – telling a trusted loved one can help you feel supported and less alone. Friends, family members, and partners can help you brainstorm possible solutions, or at least, it will give you space to rant.
Blowing off steam by calling your boss, co-worker or those tough clients all the names under the sun, and fantasising about the thousand different ways of murdering them, yet lamenting that the police and the judiciary system tends to frown upon than sort of thing is bound to feel good, right?
3. Look at the choices you really have…
…such as getting the hell out of there! In regards to the scenario above. Yes, I know that is often easier said than done, but if the job is killing you, then you really need to think about making a sharp exit before it succeeds in doing so. Once the idea has cemented in your brain, you will already be on your way to actually making it happen.
4. Take back control
The power is in your hands; you may not have had control over what happened to bring you to this point, but you do have the power to take back control and begin to recharge. Start by:
- Prioritising – do the most important things first. Sorting out your sock drawer can wait.
- Delegating – you only have one pair of hands, so unless you are a multi-limbed Hindu god, pass the to someone you trust. (Or that slacker who lurks in every office in the land who constantly gets away with doing the sum total of sod all.)
- Don’t take work home with you – work to live, don’t live to work. You’re not a robot or a slave. Leave the “work brain” at work, stored in a box along with the stationery… So, business ladies – turn your facebook biz page off, and don’t check your emails at 10pm at night.
- Be firm about your needs – Put your foot down and tell the others involved that enough is enough. Keep true to your boundaries and stop adding extra things to your plate.
5. Set boundaries – learn to say “no.” “No” is a complete sentence and it needs no explanation or apology just ask my 4 year old when I ask her to tidy up her toys.
6. Treat the root causes – My clients sometimes ask me, albeit rhetorically, whether they have a neon sign above their head that flashes the word “doormat” in giant pink neon letters. Unconsciously, you could well be projecting that very notion. Hypnotherapy can help with confidence and self-esteem issues that may very well lie at the heart of why you are a target for bullies and general exploitation. After all, they don’t go after people who appear confident and self-assured; they pick on those they deem weak and vulnerable.
If you are reading this and “feel seen”, then it may well be worth seeking hypnotherapeutic treatment. Click here to book a consultation.
Don’t let the *proverbials* grind you down – help is out there <3