Burnout in the Workplace and How to Deal with It

Jun 7, 2024

7 minutes

Do you know that your mental health impacts your productivity levels in the workplace? Mental health stressors like anxiety, fatigue, and exhaustion reduce your concentration, making it difficult for you to achieve your deliverables. If you fail to manage the negative effects of job stress on your mental and physical health long-term, you may experience occupational burnout and eventually miss out on lucrative job opportunities in Kenya.

Occupational or job burnout is a stress-linked syndrome associated with chronic strain in the workplace. When chronic stress is improperly managed, it causes burnout, characterised by emotional, physical, and/or mental exhaustion. A person experiencing occupational burnout may exhibit reduced professional efficacy resulting from negativism, which increases the cognitive distance between them and their job.

Job Factors that Cause Burnout

Unmanageable Workload

Time is a finite commodity! Sometimes, your workload is significantly more than the time you can allocate to complete it. As a result, you may find yourself experiencing unreasonable time pressures that make it difficult to manage your workload. This could leave you feeling hopeless and demotivated, putting you at a higher risk of occupational burnout.

Lack of Managerial Support

Managerial support in the workplace acts as a psychological stress buffer. Statistics reveal that employees with strong organisational support are 70% less likely to experience occupational burnout. In contrast, you are more likely to be burned out if you feel unsupported in your workplace.   

Conflicts and Unfair Treatment

Conflicts with your colleagues and unfair treatment from them can lead to occupational burnout. Disagreements over ideas or personal differences may increase work-related anxiety, raising the risk of burnout. Similarly, unfair treatment resulting from bullying, mistreatment from coworkers, and favouritism may have adverse effects on your mental health, causing burnout.

Work-Life Balance Issues

Your time at work is as important as your time off! Hence, learning to balance “work time” and “rest time” is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance that reduces the risk of occupational burnout. If your work takes too much time and energy, it leaves no space for family, friends, and hobbies. This upsets your work-life balance and increases your susceptibility to burnout.

Signs of Burnout

Physical Symptoms

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Reoccurring headaches
  • Changes in sleep patterns and diet
  • Poor immune function

Mental Symptoms

  •  Lack of concentration
  •  Loss of interest in your Job
  •  Feelings of worthlessness
  • Depressed mood
  •  Anger

How to Deal with Burnout

The good news is that occupational burnout is reversible! Understanding how to deal with it is critical to professional growth and development, which improves your eligibility for best-paying careers in Kenya.

Acknowledge You Are Burned Out

Science dictates that one of the key first steps in the problem-resolution process is “naming the problem.” Hence, acknowledging you are burned out is critical to your recovery process. Observing your physical and mental state over a few weeks and determining whether you are experiencing the symptoms of burnout listed above can kickstart your burnout recovery process. If your observational findings lead to the realization you are burned out, you should accept them and start exploring your burnout resolution options.

Acknowledging you are burned out will help you create an effective plan to reverse the negative effects of work stress on your mental and physical health.

Seek Support from Your Boss

Seeking support from your boss or your organization’s human resource (HR) manager could help you recover from occupational burnout. So, don’t be afraid to speak up and discuss your challenges. Burnout is a well-known phenomenon. Your boss/HR will understand your concerns and work with you to find a solution. However, before you raise the issue with the management at your workplace, come up with a few burnout solutions you can present to them. For instance, you can request to be removed from a specific project or ask for a leave. Presenting such options to the management will demonstrate your commitment to dealing with occupational burnout and increase the likelihood of eliciting your boss’s support.

A good employer should professionally and compassionately handle your request for support to alleviate burnout. If they don’t, consider exploring other best-paying careers in Kenya.  

Take Time Off Work

Detaching yourself completely from your work environment can help you recover from the adverse effects of work stress. If your job offers paid time off, take advantage of that! While you are off work, consider taking a vacation within your means. Research shows that people who go on vacations have lower stress, better outlooks on life, and are more motivated to achieve their goals. If your financial situation does not allow you to take a vacation, engage in relaxing activities like walks, yoga, and meditation that help relieve mental and physical tension. Moreover, allocate a chunk of your time off to sleep. Sleep is vital to restoring well-being and safeguarding health. 

Time off from your job could be what you need to regain your groove and continue on your path to realizing your career goals!

Create a Daily Routine

Once you get back to your job, establish a daily routine! A daily routine will help you create healthy work-life boundaries that alleviate occupational burnout. These boundaries will enable you to plan your day effectively by allocating adequate time slots to your work, personal, and social activities. For instance, you can set alarms at different times of the day to signal when “work time” begins and ends, allowing room for social and personal activities. Similarly, you can create “to-do” lists that help you break down work projects into achievable daily goals.

A daily routine will help you establish, maintain, and enforce work-life boundaries that allow you to say “no” to additional work tasks that may overburden you. Saying “no” to your boss or coworkers can be scary. However, you must learn to speak it empathetically and professionally to prevent or deal with occupational burnout. 

A daily routine is an emotionally intelligent tool that can help you improve your work-life balance when recovering from burnout!

Take Breaks During Your Work Day

Regular breaks during a work day are important because they increase mental well-being and boost productivity. As such, it is important to listen to your body and take the breaks it needs during your work day. That 5-minute break could be the remedy you seek to clear your creativity block and keep burnout at bay. 

However, when you take these breaks, avoid doom scrolling on your phone. Instead, use the time to incorporate mindfulness practices into your day. Listen to a 5-minute guided meditation, do some breathing exercises, walk around the office, stretch, or read a few pages of that book you can never find time to read. Be intentional with your breaks! Curate them to support your burnout recovery efforts.  

Reduce Your Exposure to Job-Related Stressors

Burnout recovery will only be effective if you minimise the work-related stress you experience. This can be achieved by knowing your limits and taking on only what you can handle. Listing the tasks you are expected to complete over specific periods can help you understand your workload. It also provides a visual representation you can refer to whenever a coworker or your boss needs you to take on an additional task. If your list is at capacity, create practical boundaries around your work day, say no to more tasks, or request to delegate some tasks to focus on priorities. Such action will help you reduce unhealthy stress that causes occupational burnout.   

Prioritize Mental Health and Self-Care

Consider enrolling in therapy if you need extra support when recovering from burnout.  A therapist can offer you additional support as you deal with the adverse effects of work-related stress. Therapy gives you a safe space to talk to a trained professional who listens to your challenges and helps you develop strategies to navigate them. Therapists can also help you create and implement self-care plans that improve your ability to manage work-related stress. A self-care plan that reduces the risk of burnout should prioritise good nutrition, sleeping habits, social connection, and exercise. If your work schedule makes prioritising your mental health and self-care difficult, assess your options and consider other best-paying careers in Kenya.

Parting Shot!

Burnout may feel impossible to overcome. However, once you understand its causes and symptoms, you can effectively implement the tips presented here to deal with it and prevent it from reoccurring in the future. Use your unpleasant experience with occupational burnout as a turning point that launches you into a happier and more sustainable career and life.

Rest is NOT deprioritising the pursuit of your career goals. Instead, it is the self-care you need to replenish your creativity and well-being and reposition yourself for career success.

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