How to avoid job burnout in IT sector?
Job burnout is a huge, very present issue that affects many software developers and other IT workers. Most professionals will sooner or later come across the term „overworking”, so it is significant to learn more about this phenomenon and the ways to overcome occupational burnout. In this article we will try to analyze job burnout in tech industry and find out the main reasons and consequences of overworking.
First of all, we should describe what job burnout actually is. World Health Organization says that burnout is an occupational phenomenon, which comes from chronic workplace stress. They emphasize the meaning of stress management — if it is successfully managed, job burnout is much less common. Traditionally, the word “burn-out” has been used as a colloquial description for a particular set of work-related symptoms such as being constantly stressed, overwhelmed, and not having enough energy to devote to a given task or even an entire career. It is important to be aware that burnout is recognized as a formal mental health problem. It is not an illness, anxiety or depression, but it can cause mentioned states.
Burnout was characterized in 1982 by three major states: overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Now it is thought that burnout can be represented the best by four dimensional model: emotional or energetic exhaustion, professional self-inefficacy, cynicism and depersonalization.
ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH JOB BURNOUT?
To diagnose occupational burnout, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you find it hard to concentrate?
- Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it may indicate that you are experiencing job burnout. It can be caused by frustrating lack of control of your schedule, assignments or workload, unclear job expectations, dysfunctional workplace dynamics (when you work with an office bully or your colleagues make you feel undermined), lack of social support or imbalance between work and private life.
CONSEQUENCES OF PROFESSIONAL BURNOUT
Sadness, anger or irritability
If your job doesn’t give you satisfaction, you feel frustrated and often underestimated. It may cause sadness and the feeling of lack of sense, which shortly can escalate into anger and irritability of this situation. No one wants to feel that his/her actions don’t lead to anything, right? Feeling these emotions may influence every field of your life, so if you feel angry, sad or irritable because of every little thing, try to relax and get the balance between your private life and work.
Do you know that feeling when you come back home and you feel you cannot do anything more this day, because you’re so exhausted? Spending hours a day in a workplace where you don’t feel comfortable or doing things that don’t match your interests or abilities causes a huge tiredness. Of course it can be something normal if you were struggling with some unsolvable bugs for a whole day. However, some employees feel like that even if it was a typical day at work. It can be caused by job burnout, so if you feel worn out without any big reason, get interested in how to deal with professional burnout.
Chronic stress is really dangerous to human body and mind. It causes many mental diseases and physical issues, such as gastric problems. Because of excessive stress you may feel destructed and exhausted. It result also a sense of hopelessness, depression, anxiety attacks, mood disorders and many others. That’s why finding some kind of way to de-stress yourself is recommended. It may be physical activities, going out with your friends or reading a book next to the fireplace. No matter what you choose — just remember about your balance.
Have you ever lied in your bed for several hours, wiggling from side to side? If you have, you know it is one of the most frustrating feelings that you can ever experience. You’re exhausted all day, but can’t sleep at night. Not only is fatigue a symptom of burnout, but insomnia also ranks high on the list. Your workload feels so overwhelming that you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
Stress that affects human body can cause many different diseases, including heart diseases. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and others are just a tip of an iceberg, so if anything bad happens in your body, don’t hesitate and take care of your health.
Vulnerability to illnesses
People who experience job burnout can be more likely to get illnesses than others. Why? It is all connected with our immunological system that suffers from too much cortisol, which deregulates the whole body.
HOW TO HANDLE JOB BURNOUT?
Evaluate your options
First of all you should discuss the specific concerns with your boss or supervisor. There is a chance that you will reach solutions and some compromises to deal with this situation. Try to set goals for what must get done and what can wait. After make a prioritization and compare it with your and your supervisor’s expectations about your work.
Ask for different responsibilities
When you do the same thing for a long time it may be really tiring and exhausting. Boredom caused by homogeneous tasks can be easily overcome by changing your responsibilities. If you feel that you are experiencing job burnout, try to ask your supervisor for different tasks. It’s really simple solution, but may be effective and reduce your burnout.
Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services and take care of your mental health. Contact with other people and feeling of community will affect your sociable needs, what can help with job burnout.
Take a break from stimulants (caffeine, alcohol etc.)
Many people who have problems with stress, frustration and lack of relax reach for some stimulants, such as alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and… coffee. It may be surprising, but caffeine has damaging impact on human body, so we should be aware and drink it with caution. When you take a break from alcohol, cigarettes and coffee, you will probably feel much more rested and relaxed than before.
Try a relaxing activity
Everyone of us has different activity which makes us chilled out. One person likes reading a book, while another prefers to play volleyball or go for a walk. No matter what you will choose, it’s highly recommended to find some activity which makes you happy and go for it. People, who slow down and unwind themselves feel less stressed out and are less likely to get job burnout.
Get some rest
Sleep is of crucial importance for everyone, but especially for people who work a lot. Without enough rest your body don’t have physical energy to do its best another day. What’s more, your mind is strictly connected with sleeping, so when you don’t sleep at least 7 hours per day, your are less effective and your creativity decreases. It isn’t your point, is it? So let’s take a break and give yourself calm, quality rest.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. Mindfulness programs in the workplace may help you better deal with stress and develop the ability to observe negative emotions and automatic thought patterns and behaviors, and remain calm, present, self-aware and alert, rather than succumbing to the slippery slope of negative emotions. What’s more, findings identify an important link between less stress, and greater job satisfaction.
Take some vacation
Finally, when everything mentioned above doesn’t work, it means you need to cut-off from work. Talk to your supervisor and ask for a vacation as soon as possible. Two weeks with zero office contact can clear your head and let you to find new will to work. To make it really work, you can’t check your emails, be available for calls or SMS. Basically, you should go somewhere, where is completely no reception. Desert island or the house in the middle of the forest may be a really good solution for you.
Job burnout is a serious problem and you shouldn’t ignore it. It affects negatively every aspect of your life and you can’t underestimate your physical, mental and emotional health. Remember to recharge as often as you need and find your way to maintain a good work-life balance.
Written by: Karolina Matusiak