Last time we talked about the burnout syndrome, how to identify and treat it. We will dedicate our today’s discussion to preventative measures that can be taken. And will also see which professionals are at the highest risk to make sure you can stay alert to the possibility.
Who’s in the high risk group?
We already discussed causes of job burnout. By analyzing the presence of those we can identify with high degree of probability potential therapy patients that will sooner or later be diagnosed with burnout syndrome.
This is what the high risk group looks like:
— people with «sociable» jobs that involve communicating with a great
number of people. These are managers, sales people, realtors, teachers, business people, senior officers, service workers and so on.
— people with «humane» jobs expected to tap into their emotional faculties, besides mental and physical ones. These are volunteers, psychologists, medical personnel, teachers again, social workers, lawyers, firefighters, rescue workers etc.
— low-level specialists with low qualifications that have no career or income growth perspectives. Their personal development may be restricted to one or two steps followed by a dead-end.
— avid careerists and workaholics contract the syndrome by constantly aspiring for absolute perfection in both personal and professional way.
Of course it would not be right to reduce potential burnout contenders to just those categories. The truth is, no one is immune to it — not a janitor, not a business person. It makes a lot more sense to talk about preventative measures, not just potential risks. We all know full well that it’s always easier to prevent than to deal with the consequences.
Preventing burnout syndrome
There are a few useful rules you can follow to avoid turning into ashes:
— The 888 rule. Try dividing your day into three equal intervals and dedicating equal portion of the time to work, sleep and fun. Try not to go over 8 hours and keep to a strict schedule.
— The 100% unplug rule. Rest fully, having completely unplugged yourself from your work. Do not let your phone, PC or tablet drag you out of your «siesta». Treat yourself to days off during which you will dedicate time to anything but work.
— Leave space for family and friends. Keep in mind that besides your job you have personal space that should be reserved for family, friends and acquaintances. Remember about them, do not lose touch, socialize and give them your valuable attention. It will be great if you manage to save a whole day top dedicate to your loved ones, no distractions.
— Music to the rescue. Even if there is no time to rest, there is always some for a disk with favorite artists to get disconnected from the outside world. Music players and earphones are awesome inventions of the humankind that let you rest and relax even on your way to work or home.
— Hobby mania will save you from burnout. A busy person with a hobby or a few suffers a great deal from lack of possibility to do something he or she loves so much. Do not keep accumulating all that negativity, make sure you always allocate some time in your schedule for hobby. Let that be just a couple of hours: the benefits of this sort of rest are incredible! If you still do not have a hobby, get one. There are so many different options these days that let you realize yourself in a creative way. Who knows, maybe this new hobby will become a new professional direction to pursue. Those that think they are all thumbs will still be able to apply themselves via adult coloring books. Those are incredibly beneficial: thanks to the fine motor skills required we get a chance to exercise our little grey cells. Additionally, the process of coloring a picture calms the nerves and takes the strain off the eyes.
— Regular physical activity. Physical activity is of a tremendous benefit to our body. Especially if in our line of work we have to rely on our brain rather than our muscles. Biking, roller-skating, swimming, tennis, fitness… The choice is so wide these days even the laziest ones will find something to their liking.
— Proper sleep is as good as gold. There is nothing in this world that can replace sleep. Even partially. You must sleep at least 8 hours a day. Even if you sincerely believe your body will do just fine with 6.
— Work must bring pleasure. Your work environment must be favorable. Try to surround yourself with pleasant conversation partners, decorate your work place with sweet little knickknacks.
And a separate chapter on the meaning of life, its worthiness and motivation
Extensive scientific research proves an interesting fact: meaningful activity comes with minimal burnout risk. Just to be more specific, it’s about how meaningful the activity really is rather than the enthusiasm the person doing it has. Those that see meaning in their work, its real value for the society will never experience burnout, even if working on he verge of their physical and emotional capacity. The conclusion can you draw from all that? Evaluate the meaningfulness of your job and appreciate what you do.
Burnout is not an issue for people that know how to live to the fullest appreciating what they have and enjoying the things around them. The fact is, most people these days are practically living by the others’ goals and values or just learn to do without those values. It’s very important to see your goal for what it truly is — your very own personal passionate desire or just a means to assert your position in the society. If it’s the first option — great, and if it’s the other one — the risk of depression and burnout is imminent.
There is a very simple integrity test: if you find yourself being ecstatic because a concrete goal (even a minimal one) is finally achieved and you can’t wait to keep moving, the chances are, you are missing out on your life and not particularly upset about it. Sooner or later you will get yourself chronic fatigue syndrome and burnout. Which all leads to a conclusion — don’t be in too much hurry to live your life, savor and value every moment of it.
Just the same goes for motivation. Sincere motivation protects you against burnout syndrome, while false motivation is known to contribute to it. We can motivate ourselves by either sincerely wanting to achieve something or appeasing our ego and trying to reach a certain position in the society. In other words, you should put your heart into everything you do.
A simple test to determine if you have burnout syndrome
If you are involved in any kind of professional activity and are having your doubts right about now, it’s easy to conduct a little self-check. Just ask yourself a few questions that can help you set things straight.
- Why am I doing this? (what the meaning of the job you do is, what it gives you in your opinion, how useful it will be for you in the long run).
- Do I like doing it? (whether the job brings pleasure, satisfaction, feeling self-worth and completeness).
- How good am I at it? (whether you are satisfied with the results achieved).
Honest answers to these three questions can help you take an unbiased look at the situation and understand how real the threat of emotional burnout is for you.
In conclusion, it’s helpful to repeat what was already said and sum it up. Someone living off sincere emotions has no reason to fear emotional burnout. On the other hand, those estranging themselves from life and those with their heads in the clouds are seriously risking it.
Learn to always live in the here-and-now, be really present during any task at hand. That way you will minimize the risk of becoming a phoenix that will sooner or later need to restore itself from ashes.
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