By Julie-Ann Sherlock

Do you ever feel like leaping up from your desk, grabbing your stuff, walking out, and jumping on a plane to a secluded island? You are not alone. Pretty much every one of us has played this fantasy in our heads at some point. Maybe the boss is being extra annoying, or the gossipy harridans from accounting keep smirking over at you, making you wonder what you have done wrong now. 

Agghhh!! Take me away from it all. Let me just lie on a beach sipping cocktails and catching up on Bridgerton. Instead, we gotta keep going on. Adulting is hard. 

Even when you love your job (me most of the time), there are times we can all feel overwhelmed, underappreciated and STRESSED! Beyond the normal frustrations of having to be responsible and go to work daily, there is another work-induced state of mind called burnout.

What Is Burnout?

The World Health Organization (yes, that lot that we all became very familiar with during the last few years) defines burnout as “…a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” They tell us that it usually has three different aspects to it: 

  1. Lack of energy or constantly feeling exhausted
  2. Feeling distanced from or negative towards your job 
  3. Becoming less effective at doing it

And you know, when the big guns from the WHO weigh in and call it a syndrome, it is real and as painful as it sounds. While considered more a form of mental anguish, it can also lead to tangible, physical pain. Fantastic!

When you are suffering from work-induced anxiety or stress, it is not unusual to have symptoms such as headaches, aches and pains in your body and you are more susceptible to colds and flu. Yup, your job could be making you sick. 

What Should I Do?

So should you just quit and live off your charming personality and fresh air for the rest of your life? Well, if like me, you have the charm of an earthworm and the desire to eat, sleep somewhere comfortable and not scare people by walking around naked, this is not an option. 

One of the first steps to overcoming burnout is facing up to it. As the late Apple boss Steve Jobs once said, “If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.”

Write down the aspects of your job that are causing you the most stress. Then prioritise them according to the most pressing things you need to change to find your work mojo again. 

Some will be within your control, like maybe changing how you approach your workday. Do you usually start the day without breakfast? Then perhaps having something to eat will give you the stamina to tackle the workload. 

Do you normally read all your emails and feel overcome by the number of tasks you have to do? Why not filter them and only read the most pressing first and act on them before looking at the others? 

Making changes to your mindset or setting boundaries in your work can go a long way to helping reframe your time spent on the job. 

Outside of the work environment, make sure to get the most out of your downtime by getting some me time. Hang out with friends, take yoga classes, go to the beach or curl up in your bed with Netflix or a good book. Don’t let work rule every aspect of your day. 

Ask For Help

Unfortunately, not all our work issues are within our immediate control. Perhaps the boss is making your life hell? Mine is a total B***h. (Editor: Don’t you work for yourself?) 

Or maybe some of the processes are not conducive to you being able to complete your tasks while retaining your sanity? If this is the case you may have to consider talking to your HR department or manager about some of your problems. 

If home or non-work life issues are causing you the headaches, making it more difficult for you to function at work, talk to your boss or colleagues and let them know that you are struggling. Thankfully, the world is changing, and more people now understand that asking for help is actually the bravest thing you can do for your mental health and not a sign of weakness.

But sometimes, the pressures of the job or the work environment will be too much and, for your mental and physical health, you might have to walk away. If this becomes your only option, don’t despair. 

Don’t see it as a failure; look at it as an opportunity to do something epic with your life. I had to leave a job in advertising sales and now live out my childhood dreams as a writer.

And, when you land your dream job, you will be back to being the most productive, happiest worker on the planet. Good luck!