At some point during our careers, it is highly likely that the average American will experience at least some symptoms of job burnout. The major source of this burnout, particular to Americans, is the way we work. Compared to the rest of the developed world, American workers receive the least amount of vacation time. According to data collected by the CareerBuilder.com survey of American workers, even during vacation, 20 percent of American report that they check in with their job. What’s more, over half of all workers perceive that they work an excessively stressful job and 77 percent feel burned out.
Regarding working parents, 44 percent of working mothers indicate that they are preoccupied with work while at home and one-quarter bring home at least one project per week. Nearly 20 percent reported typically working weekends. Working fathers reported bringing work home at least once per week 36 percent of the time and nearly one-third said they frequently work weekends. This data indicate the immense pressure the majority of American workers undergo on a regular basis, regardless of other life plans and responsibilities. With the added factor of some of the longest weekly work hours in the developed work, it is no wonder so many people experience moderate to severe physical and emotional distress.
But job burnout is something that can be detected early and measures can be taken to prevent some of the major symptoms. Said Dr. Audrey Canaff, Assistant Professor of Counseling at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, “Job burnout is a response to work stress that leaves you feeling powerless, hopeless, fatigued, drained, and frustrated. But since job burnout is not an overnight occurrence, it’s important to recognize its early signs and to act before the problem becomes truly serious.” Some of the early warning signs include:
- An increasing irritability with co-workers, and even your family; especially with those you previously got along with.
- A dread of going to work and incessant clock-watching.
- Lack of motivation for your work and waning or absent ambition. Indifference may begin to replace any enthusiasm you once held for your job.
- You no longer find value in your friendships with co-workers and lack interest in maintaining your network of work relationships.
- You find that you feel exhausted every day and may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension and pain, and insomnia.
The presence of some, if not all, of these symptoms should be interpreted as your body’s call for action and change. One way to combat the dread of going to work and mingling with your co-workers is to discuss your condition with your boss or a human resources representative. This can result in a lightened workload, extended deadlines, and other work delegation.
Some of the biggest steps you can take in managing burnout are to take care of your body and mind. Get plenty of rest and pay attention to the food you eat on a daily basis. Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen can keep you energized, motivated, and feeling refreshed. Try to reduce professional and personal commitments, at least until you get bearings straight. Finally, learn some stress-management skills such as relaxation exercises, positive self-talk, breathing techniques, and meditation.