No matter what you do for a living, there is a danger of burning out when you work yourself too hard. Burning out could lead to problems that could be irreversible.
Arianna Huffington of HuffingtonPost, experienced this firsthand when she almost lost an eye from burnout. She was so tired at work that she passed out, hitting her face on her desk. She broke her cheekbone and had to get four stitches on her eye.
Before you can treat and even prevent burnout, you need to know the warning signs so you can take action. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Health problems
Burnout has a massive negative impact on your physical and mental health. Whether you’re experiencing back pain, depression, heart disease, obesity, or just getting sick a lot, you need to consider the role your work is playing in this. You’ll know when burnout is affecting your health, and you’ll have to decide whether your approach to work is worth the consequences.
2. Cognitive difficulties
Research shows that stress hammers the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function. Executive function impacts your memory, decision-making abilities, emotional control, and focus. When you notice that you’re making silly mistakes, forgetting important things, having outbursts of emotion, or making poor decisions, you’re likely burning out.
3. Difficulty with work and personal relationships
Stress bleeds over into everything you do, particularly how you interact with people. Even when you feel that you’re keeping your stress under control at work, it can rear its ugly head at home. Often it’s your relationships that suffer. Stress makes many people more likely to snap at others, lose their cool, and get involved in silly, unnecessary conflicts. Others are more inclined to withdraw and avoid people they care about.
4. Taking your work home with you
You know that sickening feeling when you’re lying in bed thinking about all the work that you didn’t get done and hoping that you didn’t miss something important? When you can’t stop thinking about work when you’re at home, it’s a strong sign that you’re burning out.
Burnout often leads to exhaustion because of the toll stress takes on your mind and body. The hallmarks of burnout fatigue are waking up with no energy after a good night’s sleep, drinking large amounts of caffeine to get you through the day, or having trouble staying awake at work.
Burnout can turn you very negative, even when you’re usually a positive person. If you find yourself focusing on the downside of situations, judging others, and feeling cynical, it’s clear that negativity has taken hold and it’s time for you to do something about it.
If you recognize many of these symptoms in yourself, You need good ways to separate yourself from your work so you can recharge and find balance. The following will help you accomplish this.
Disconnecting is the most important burnout strategy on this list, because if you can’t find time to remove yourself electronically from your work, then you’ve never really left work. Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire evening or weekend off from handling work e-mails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times to check in on work
2. Pay attention to your body signals
It’s easy to think that a headache is the result of dehydration, that a stomachache is the result of something you ate, and that an aching neck is from sleeping on it wrong, but that’s not always the case. Oftentimes, aches and pains are an accumulation of stress and anxiety. Burnout manifests in your body, so learn to pay attention to your body’s signals so you can nip burnout in the bud. Your body is always talking, but you have to listen.
3. Schedule relaxation.
It’s just as important to plan out your relaxation time as it is to plan out when you work. Even scheduling something as simple as “read for 30 minutes” benefits you greatly. Scheduling relaxing activities makes certain they happen as well as gives you something to look forward to.
4. Stay away from sleeping pills
When I say sleeping pills, I mean anything you take that sedates you so you can sleep. Whether it’s alcohol or sleeping pills, these substances greatly disrupt your brain’s natural sleep process. Sedation interferes with these cycles, altering the brain’s natural process. Anything that interferes with the brain’s natural sleep process has dire consequences for the quality of your sleep, and you need adequate, quality sleep to avoid burnout.
5. Get organized
Much of the stress we experience on a daily basis doesn’t stem from having too much work; it stems from being too disorganized to handle the work effectively. When you take the time to get organized, the load feels much more manageable.
6. Take regular breaks during the workday
Physiologically, we work best in spurts of an hour to an hour and a half, followed by 15-minute breaks. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late–you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity and fatigued yourself unnecessarily in the process. Keeping to a schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive.
This article appeared originally on inc.com, read the full piece here.
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