Think twice before you chalk up your fatigue to the fast-paced lifestyle we all lead.
Chronic weariness, anxiety, depression and even anger are all signs that point toward job burnout. That’s a specific type of physical, emotional and mental fatigue that experts at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, caution can adversely impact your health.
“People are most likely to experience burnout in the face of conditions such as unrealistically high workloads, low levels of job control, incivility, bullying, administrative hassles, low social support, poor organizational resources, stressed leaders and negative leadership behaviors,” executive coach Monique Valcour wrote recently for Harvard Business Review. “Organizations with rampant burnout are like centers of infectious disease outbreaks. Many people exhibit symptoms, and the deleterious effects reverberate throughout the whole system of employee relationships, both in and out of the workplace.”
Bottom line: Burnout can put your health at risk. Over time, it can cause everything from weight gain, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, due to erratic eating, to increased risks of heart disease and heart attacks, according to the American Psychological Association.
Burnout can also lead to insomnia, anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, strokes and more, says the Mayo Clinic. Job burnout can also lead to negative behaviors — anger, heightened emotions, impaired judgment — in your personal life.
Wonder if you’re suffering from burnout? Ask yourself these questions devised by Mayo Clinic researchers. They recommend that if you answer “yes” to even one of these questions, you should consider consulting a physician or seek other support.
1. Have you become cynical or critical at work?
2. Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
3. Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
4. Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
5. Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
6. Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
7. Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
8. Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
9. Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other health issues?
Do you find yourself answering yes to some of these questions? Even if it isn’t realistic for you to leave a poor work environment, researchers say there are steps you can take to reduce stress and minimize the damage to your psychological and physical health. Consider these ideas:
1. Talk to your boss
If you don’t want to look for a new job, Mayo Clinic researchers recommend discussing work options with your supervisor. Flex time, telecommuting and job sharing are alternatives that may help reduce burnout.
2. Manage your workload
Look for opportunities to delegate tasks. It’s a good idea to break the habit of automatically agreeing to new responsibilities and commitments. Also, take breaks between major projects so you don’t go from one stressful situation right into another, suggests Chicago psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, in a column for Psychology Today.
3. Power down
Those who experience burnout should take time to unplug and engage in relaxation, whether that’s meditation, reading or a hobby, recommend experts including psychologist Bourg Carter. It’s not always easy at first, but setting up barriers between personal and professional time does alleviate stress, researchers say.
“Take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it before it’s too late,” wrote Bourg Carter. “Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life. And as hard as that may seem, it’s the smartest thing to do.”
4. Watch for the warning signs
It’s important to understand that job burnout overtakes people gradually, according to Bourg Carter, making it hard to function professionally and personally:
You don’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden “have burnout.” Its nature is much more insidious, creeping up on us over time like a slow leak, which makes it much harder to recognize. Still, our bodies and minds do give us warnings, and if you know what to look for, you can recognize it before it’s too late.
This article originally appeared on Moneytalksnews