The first step in fighting back against workplace burnout is to understand what it is and identify its most common causes, Vicky Valet writes in Forbes.
Workplace burnout is "more common than the average worker recognizes," says Chris Ebberwein, a behavioral faculty member at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. "It can creep into your life and make you start to think unhappiness at work is normal."
According to Christina Maslach, professor of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley, burnout is a chronic condition characterized by cynicism, exhaustion, and a lack of professional effectiveness.
"It's not simply that people are tired. It's not just that people have a bad attitude," she explains.
How to make stress useful
The causes of burnout can be subtle. "Something as little as someone rolling their eyes can wear away at you," Maslach says. She shares five strategies for employees trying to fight back against burnout.
1. Connect with colleagues. Burnout is the result of a poor working environment, so it is likely your coworkers are experiencing something similar. "People have to work together to figure out what's creating a less than ideal working environment," Maslach says.
2. Change up your office social circle. If your usual workplace companions are not prepared to tackle the issue of burnout, it can be helpful to branch out. "Surround yourself with coworkers who want to make positive strides in their work lives and draw support from one another," Valet writes.
3. Focus on what is rewarding. Identify the aspects of your work that are most fulfilling and connect with your manager about devoting more time to them. "If you feel like the projects you're taking on match what you like to do, burnout will diminish, because you're enjoying yourself at work," Ebberwein says.
4. Take mental breaks. While some companies praise workers who don't take breaks, Ebberwein says that way of thinking is a recipe for burnout. Consider setting an alarm for every 30 minutes as a reminder to get up and move around. And be sure to use all of your vacation days, Valet writes.
5. Get out of dodge. Sometimes the causes of burnout are beyond an employees' control. If you are running out of reasons to stay in a job that is mentally draining, "explore other options," Ebberwein says (Valet, Forbes, 6/23).
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