Burned Out?

This morning when he called for the 100th time I decided to pick up the call. I have pretty much ignored it for the entire last week and a half.

I just didn’t want to talk.

The moment I picked up the call, things were like it used to be. I had to ask him why he was calling me and he said it- it was the burn out that was killing him. He wasn’t as inspired as he used to feel.

He had pulled all nighters and rolled himself out to be walked over with expectations and more work and he pretty much volunteered for it all.

I knew how it felt; I had been there and done that. I worked twice the regular hours, worked in 2 time zones, constantly checked my blackberry even in the middle of sleep, slept for less than 6 hours a day, ate lunch at desk and felt very important doing it all. I loved my life, my work life!

Till I pretty much felt like a Zombie; that’s when I decided it was time to reconnect with myself. So, I quit.

Listening to the same story over the call, made me just think how much employees go through and don’t know when to stop.

Some just can’t face the fact that they are going through a problem and there’s no way to love your job as dearly as you did. Few, go through it with their hatred for the job soaring.

Studies estimate that stress costs US businesses up to $300 billion dollars in lost productivity each year. In a Business Week article, Marissa Mayer talks about finding the rhythm, to avoid the burnout. It boils down to one activity that you think is the anchor of your sanity. Like meeting your friends for a Friday night dinner or attending parent teacher meets for working parents.

Turns out there are 4 stages of burn out and it’s a common scenario for all kind of jobs.

Katy Cowan, in her article in The Guardian talks about the physical, emotional, behavorial signs to take as cue before you have the actual breakdown. New hobbies, putting technology way once in a while and learning to switch off and take breaks are the few ways to get back to your regular self.

Taking a creative sabbatical surely is one way and some people are more serious about it than others. Designer Stefan Sagmeister is one of them and he takes it regularly closing his New York based design studio.

Stress might be the predecessor to a burn out, so make sure you know how to identify one.

So, here are 5 ways to combat it:

  • Stop ignoring the symptoms- You will always know when you are leaning towards it, just make sure, you don’t ignore the signs and think it will all go away. It won’t until you take some actions for it.
  • Talk it out aloud- Call a friend and talk about what you are going through. Unburdening yourself helps and smaller suggestions when reinforced over time will help you convince yourself to take the break.
  • Find time to do what you like the best- It’s probably the rhythm, make time to travel, paint, call your best friend or whatever it is you like doing. Just find the time to do it and don’t underestimate the influence of a positive work environment. 
  • Me time- Every single day, find time or a routine just for yourself. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, still stick to it. Go for a walk after dinner by yourself or watch your favourite show.
  • Get back when you are ready- Some will admit it, some wont; this is a common phase unless you know how to handle it. Break your routine and induce some freshness. Sooner than later, you will be back on your feet and happy to live in the Now.
Pic Courtesy: Google Images


Midnite said...

I don't agree that you can always recognize the signs... especially if you are relatively new to the working world. I certainly didn't realize it when I burned out about nine years ago. Back in those days, I thought it was just normal work life to come home late at night with nothing but an impending feeling of imminent doom for company. But I suppose there is a lot more information available.

SIPM said...

@Midnite- I agree with you here. I think we arent really well informed to understand the burn out. Most of us do tend to ignore it.