The symptoms of burnout are now so common that burnout has become a bit of a buzz word, especially with all of the consequences of COVID-19. While you may hear the word tossed around from time to time, the effects and experience of burnout shouldn’t be taken lightly. Recently redefined, burnout is the result of chronic work stress that isn’t properly managed.
With our technology allowing us to send emails or take calls at any hour of the day or night, most people feel pressure to continue working on their off-hours by sending one more email or taking a call—especially now that so many of us are working from our homes. These practices, that seem small at first, cause the boundaries between work and the rest of our lives to eventually disintegrate until we’re working while we’re “on vacation.” In today’s typical workplace culture, these practices are rewarded with words like “dedicated,” “hard-working,” and “team-player,” but burnout is the point at which these practices turn into self-sacrifice.
At Getaway, we call that The Great Spillover. We believe that people fought hard for our right to work less, and somewhere along the line, that fight was lost (read more on that on Fast Company). With less actual time off, we are worse at work and worse at leisure, and we burn out.
The key to avoiding and addressing burnout is to make sure that some of your space is held just for work and some of your time is held just for you to get proper sleep, cook and eat healthy meals, and to de-stress at the end of each day. Turning off matters—here’s why.
In order to prevent and address burnout, you have to make time for yourself. Not only do you need time to take care of yourself physically, but you also need time to reflect, to socialize, and to destress and find joy each day. In 2019 alone, nearly half of the workforce either experienced burnout or know someone who experienced burnout—especially among millennials. That’s half of working adults who feel overworked, over-tired, and over-stressed. And that was before a worldwide pandemic.
Burnout doesn’t have a standard course of treatment, because the things that will alleviate your symptoms are as unique as the situations that led to your burnout in the first place. That being said, it’s clear that burnout occurs when people are chronically stressed, and don’t adequately manage that stress or de-stress on a regular basis. Turning off your devices, unplugging from work, and giving yourself time off from your responsibilities will reinvigorate you, help you rediscover your passions, and improve both your health and your relationships.
There Are Three Kinds of Burnout
The three kinds of burnout are differentiated by what has caused the burnout in the first place. There’s individual burnout, which results from the pressures that you place on yourself—this is very common in those who are perfectionists. There’s also interpersonal burnout, which is caused by difficult relationships. And then there’s organizational burnout, which is caused by poor organization and unrealistic demands placed on you by others.
Even if you have one type of burnout rather than another, the only way out is through—you have to address the cause before any of your symptoms will go away. Turning off or getting away from whatever is causing your burnout is a good first step. With time away, you’ll be able to get a broader view of the situation, and hopefully, you’ll see a few ways that you can address the source of your stress.
Boundaries Between Work and Life Have Disintegrated
We all know someone who has to remain glued to their phone in case a work call or some emails come through that they’ll need to promptly address—even on the weekends, on a holiday, even while they’re supposed to be on vacation.
Start Taking Back Control of Your Time by Turning off
Burnout is typically a workplace issue. According to a survey conducted by Clokify, only thirty percent of supervisors address burnout among their employees. So it’s safe to say that most companies still don’t have resources for their employees in case they start to exhibit and feel the symptoms of burnout.
One of the factors that contributes to burnout is the loss of control at work. Employees are more likely to experience burnout if they don’t feel like they have control over the work they’re doing, if they feel bored by their work, feel like there’s too much chaos in their work environment, or feel that they can’t separate their work environment from their living environment.
If you’re experiencing burnout, one of the most immediate things you can do to alleviate some stress is to log out of work when you leave or “leave” the office. Turn off email notifications, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” and return home, or to an area of your home where you don’t work, to a few hours free from work stress. Even if your deadlines are approaching, you’ll do much better work in the morning after you’ve had a mental and emotional break from work.
The most important part of turning off after work is that you set the boundary and maintain it. If someone asks you about it, clearly state that you won’t respond to work emails or calls after a certain hour. Tell them that you need that time to be dedicated to yourself and your family so that you can come in the next day refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s demands.
Turning off at the end of the day, and communicating this boundary with your co-workers and supervisors, will take some of your stress away by giving you more control over your time.
There Are Heavy Risks that Come with Ignoring Burnout
While setting hard boundaries and carving out time and space for yourself when others rely on you may seem impossible and terrifying, the risks of ignoring your burnout can be extreme.
Those who experience burnout are more likely to develop physical health problems like heart disease, exhaustion, and diabetes. They’re more likely to feel ineffective, cynical, pessimistic—things that can lead to depression and anxiety. And ultimately, you’re less likely to be using your strengths in your daily life, learning and growing through the work you do or the hobbies you pursue, and that can lead to profound dissatisfaction later on in life.
We Are Human Beings, Not Human Doings
Work is a big part of our lives, but it shouldn’t sneak into every part of our lives through our technology or our emotions. Though it may seem counterintuitive, provide yourself with more structure, create hard boundaries between hours that are for working and hours that are for play.
With these hard boundaries, we don’t have to let our stress follow us home. We can appreciate things on our drive or subway ride home from work that we don’t always appreciate. We can be kinder to others. We can be more mindful and grateful for our lives as they are, instead of wishing for something more.
Putting in the effort to bounce back from burnout is the best thing you can do for yourself, and for your loved ones. When you’re able to show up for yourself, to recover from this momentary lack of vitality, and reclaim your time and your motivation, you’ll look back with gratitude.
Ready for some time off? Book your Getaway today.