Chapter 6
  1. Success Over Stress

173. Burned Out? Try This

You may think that only corporate go-getters suffer burnout. Not so. Burnout can and does strike workers of all sorts—construction workers, office workers, homemakers, artists—anyone who’s under continuous pressure to perform or achieve. Also, anyone who’s just plain tired of what they’re doing can burn out.

Burnout isn’t something that hits out of the blue. Rather, burnout is a long, slow process arising from repeated frustration and unmet expectations.

Some symptoms of burnout include:

  1. Loss of energy.

  2. Weariness.

  3. Self-doubt.

  4. Reduced efficiency.

  5. Apathy.

Different people respond to burnout in different ways: by feeling guilty or irritable, denying anything’s wrong, blaming others, or working even harder. These responses are futile, though, and only fan the flames. Here’s what you can do to prevent burnout or nip it in the bud.

  1. Pay attention to any signals your body is sending. Insomnia, overeating, and other minor complaints may be signs of burnout.

  2. Ask yourself what you really expect to accomplish in your career or personal life. Are your expectations realistic? If not, reevaluate your goals and make sure they’re reachable. This is especially useful if you often find yourself describing your workload as “impossible,” “ridiculous,” or “overwhelming.”

  3. Mentally distance yourself from your work.

  4. Treat yourself to something special from time to time. A pleasant break, a change of scenery, or a slight indulgence can reduce some of the resentment that often leads to burnout.

  5. Reduce work hours if possible. Take breaks. Learn to delegate some tasks—anything to prevent yourself from feeling like a galley slave.

  6. Learn meditation or practice other relaxation techniques (see Tip 158, Tip 159, Tip 160, Tip 161) to help you through stressful periods. Most can be mastered quickly and easily.

  7. Pursue some kind of physical activity. But be careful not to choose exercise that reinforces the feeling of hopelessness. If your job is highly competitive, you may have to avoid playing highly competitive sports, for example. Something simple, like walking, may be better.