As society changes, the demands of workers are slowly becoming more strenuous. With the cost of living increasing, the wages we are given have not increased at the same rate. Working and providing for yourself or a family comes with various challenges, with work often being essential for survival.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is when you reach a point of exhaustion from overworking yourself. This can occur within the process of recovery itself, in the workplace, and in many other situations. If you’re not allowing yourself the time to rest and reset, small stressors can continue to build over time. When these stressors compile, you eventually hit a breaking point.
While burnout is not an official clinical disorder, it is a commonly used term to describe the feeling of being overworked. This often occurs because of a lack of self-care and lack of rest. It is essential to take time to care for yourself and create a sense of stability to work off of.
Burnout in the Workplace
Burnout in the workplace is commonly experienced when individuals are stuck in the same, entry-level job for a long period, stuck in a career path that is not enjoyable to them, or are working intensive hours without rest. While there are various reasons that burnout may occur, they typically are due to an employee being overworked or having an unrealistic set of expectations to follow.
Risks of Burnout
No matter the reason for reaching a state of burnout, many dangers can occur alongside this condition. By the time burnout occurs, there is often a build-up of stressors that need to be addressed and worked through.
Lack of Emotional Regulation
When working through these obstacles, it is easy to get frustrated and encounter various negative emotions. As your levels of stress are at an all-time high, regulating these emotions and reaching a state of relaxation is extremely difficult. The potential of developing symptoms of depression or anxiety is increased, as the ability to manage these emotions is decreased.
Onset of Addiction
As you attempt to overcome the feelings of burnout, you may seek to use different coping mechanisms to alleviate your levels of stress. While many healthy mechanisms can be applied, some individuals fall into the trap of using substances to cope with these stressors. While substances can temporarily block out stress, it does not resolve the core issues that are causing the stress. This solution is only temporary and often creates higher levels of stress in the future, as it continues to build rather than be resolved.
When substance-abusing habits are perpetuated, the short-term benefits of the substance reinforce its use as a way of coping. These reinforcements can cause substance use to turn into a habitual action, leading to addiction. If addiction sets in, coping with stress without the substance can feel impossible, all while worsening your stress levels over time. This action can get you caught up in the cycle of addiction.
When reaching a state of burnout, many individuals make rash decisions within their careers. Some will decide to quit without notice or take an extended vacation, leaving them without a source of income. While it may feel relieving to let go of the stress of work, you are then taking on a variety of financial stressors.
Tips to Avoid Burnout
There are many techniques and practices you can use to help avoid reaching a state of burnout. Listening to your body and understanding when change is necessary before you hit this breaking point can allow you to make a healthy transition and keep your life moving in the right direction.
Self-care is essential in avoiding burnout. Even if you are dealing with high stress at work, try to leave work at work. Don’t allow the stress of work to affect your life at home. When you get home, create the time for practicing self-care, allowing your mind to relax and reset. The following practices are great ways to wind down from the stressors of work:
- Take a bath
- Read a book
- Cook your favorite meal
- Light a candle (activating olfactory senses)
- Get outside
Taking the time to think about the aspects of your lifestyle and your job that make you happy and upset can allow you to understand your needs moving forward. Thinking through this can be treated as a form of self-care, as long as the negative aspects are not being dwelled on.
Communicate Your Needs
Contemplating the negative and positive aspects of your job can further your understanding of what you need to do going forward. If you feel you are taking on too heavy of a workload, communicate with your employer and set up a plan that benefits you and the company. Most employers are willing to make adjustments if your needs are appropriately communicated.
Work is not always enjoyable, but for most individuals, it is necessary to make a living for yourself. While each job has its downfalls, finding a job that makes you happy can be very beneficial. When you get stuck in a job you don’t enjoy, are feeling overworked, or are mistreated in the workplace, it is easy to hit burnout. Burnout comes with its own sets of risks and challenges. Managing your emotions and coping with the stressors of life can become difficult to manage in this state of mind, sometimes initiating the use of substances to cope with stress. This habit can initiate the cycle of addiction and bring about more obstacles. It is important to take care of yourself and give your mind and body time to relax when necessary to avoid reaching burnout. To learn more, reach out to Spero Recovery at (303) 351-7888.