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Tackling burnout, not just once but again and again

Professional advancement requires you take a look at your way of working

Gulf News

If you’ve worked yourself to a burnout, you may know pretty well that the way out of this status can be much bumper than the way in. The first thought may be to take a vacation or a just a break where you disconnect from everything and recollect yourself. That is not a bad idea, but in many cases, people find themselves reverting back to the same burnout status just a few days after coming back from a vacation – if not by the end of the first day.

Sounds familiar? If yes, then it may be a good idea to look into your style of managing your workload, your relationships around the office and how far you’ve allowed yourself to compromise on your own comfort for the sake of professional advancement.

Here are a few points to consider:

Take a break

The way you use your off-duty time– whether for lunch breaks, evenings or annual leaves – can make a big difference in how much rest and mental disconnection from work you get. With today’s mobile technology, having work on our minds and at our fingertips around the clock is easy. This can’t be healthy for two reasons. One, you obviously don’t enjoy your time off that could allow you to come back to work with a fresh perspective. Second, when you are concerned about office problems, pending projects or client responses, for example, at non-business hours, you’re unlikely to find relief because it is not a productive time. For example, even if you see an e-mail that communicates a client complaint at 9:00 pm, you may not be able to actually do much about it until the next morning.

Every time you lose sleep over your concerns, you simply will be more tired, less prepared and shorter in working out the problem when it is actually time to do so. Needless to say, there are jobs that requires some sort of around-the-clock monitoring of e-communication, but these typically are organized in a way that allow staff to share the responsibility.

Check your time

If you’re always rushing to finish projects ahead of your deadlines, you may need to take a serious look into how you’re managing your time. This rush is likely a drag on your energy, and you’re likely to feel uninspired if you always work under time-pressure. If your workload is beyond being controlled within your working hours and therefore you’re often required to work overtime, it might be time to raise the issue with your supervisor.

Who said what

Don’t underestimate the impact of negative vibes coming from disgruntled coworkers. You’re more likely to be happy – even with a considerable workload – if everyone is cooperative, pleasant and satisfied with their surroundings. Once office politics trigger hostility and finger-pointing in the workplace, you may become more vulnerable to falling a victim to negativity and, therefore, easily becoming exhausted and unmotivated. All of these are signs of a burnout. The solution is to pinpoint the cause, and avoid groups or conversations that often lead to these types of exchange.

Eye on the prize

Do you tend to overwork yourself? This can be your choice as a result of your ambition for advancement or to stand out from your peers. The bad news, however, is even though your hard work may win your supervisor’s attention, it may not be fully appreciate if you often seem tired, short and tight. In fact, your supervisor may take the extra hours and effort you’re putting as a sign of struggle to get your job done. Additionally, once you’re suffering a burnout, you may find yourself indifferent to comments of appreciation (simply thinking they aren’t enough), or unable to be as engaged as you once were.

Taking the right turn

As mentioned, taking a break and coming back to the same routine may not help much. What you actually need to do is to find out the causes of your trouble and tackle them one by one. Changing habits – like regular e-mail checking after hours or being part of gossip groups – may prove to be hard. But if you see the benefit in making the change to a more healthy work style, you may be able to introduce new habits and activities that help you relax, regroup and start every new day fresh.

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a journalist based in Seattle.