Recovering from Burnout

9Sometimes it is too late to prevent burnout—you are already past the breaking point.
If that is the case, it is important to take your burnout very seriously. Trying to push through the exhaustion and continue as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage. While the tips for preventing burnout are still helpful at this stage, recovery requires additional steps.

Burnout recovery strategy:
Slow down.
When you have reached the end stage of burnout, adjusting your attitude or looking after your health is not going to solve the problem. You need to force yourself to slow down or take a break. Cut back whatever commitments/activities you can. Give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.

Get support.
When you are burned out, the natural tendency is to protect what little energy you have left by isolating yourself. Nevertheless, your friends and family are more important than ever during difficult times. Turn to your loved ones for support. Simply sharing your feelings with another person can relieve some of the stress.
Seek counselling/psychotherapy to incorporate Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to empower you to change your lifestyle/attitude.

Re-evaluate your goals/priorities.
Burnout is an undeniable sign that something important in your life is not working. Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? Burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and to change course accordingly.

Recovering from burnout: Acknowledge your losses
Burnout brings with it many losses, which can often go unrecognised.
It takes a tremendous amount of emotional control to keep you from feeling the pain of these losses. When you recognise these losses and allow yourself to grieve them, you release that trapped energy and open yourself to healing.

These may include the loss of:
Idealism/dream with which you entered your career.
The role/identity that originally came with your job.
Physical/emotional energy.
Friends/fun, and sense of community.
Self-esteem and sense of control.
Joy, meaning and purpose that make work—and life—worthwhile.

Coping with job burnout.
The most effective way to combat job burnout is to quit doing what you are doing and do something else, whether that means changing jobs or changing careers. However, if that is not an option for you, there are still things you can do to improve your situation, or at least your state of mind.

Actively address problems. Take a proactive rather than a passive approach to issues in your workplace, including stress at work. You will feel less helpless if you assert yourself and express your needs.

Clarify your job description.
Ask your boss for an updated description of your job duties and responsibilities. Point out things you are expected to do that is not part of your job description.
Ask for new duties. If you have been doing the exact same work for a long time, ask to try something new: a different grade level, a different sales territory, a different machine.

Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence—anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and take perspective.

© 2014 – 2016, Content: Dr Vasilios Silivistris – Artwork: Ian Francis. All rights reserved.

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