Burnout is Real, But You Can Beat it

Working with students can be invigorating, emotionally rewarding and profoundly fulfilling. At the same time, it can also be challenging, frustrating and mentally-exhausting. No matter the job, many people experience work-related frustrations and stressors from time to time. However, when brief moments of workplace dissatisfaction or stress turn into weeks of irritation and anxiety it's easy to fall into a cycle of burnout. The ramifications of workplace burnout can have negative effects on your mental health and wellbeing, and can have an unintended impact on your colleagues, even the students you work with. By acknowledging what you're feeling and taking conscious action, you can avoid long-term burnout.

Acknowledge Burnout

The symptoms of burnout can range from moderate concerns like becoming easily irritable with friends and colleagues, to serious health issues like lack of sleep, over and under eating, and headaches or body pain. The Association for Psychological Science has identified three types of burnout, each with their own causes and treatments. In order to overcome burnout it's important to evaluate your current situation. Are you totally overloaded at work, taking on more than you can realistically accomplish? Do you feel a lack of development in your role, unable to grow professionally? Are you intentionally neglecting to address the things that cause you stress on a regular basis? Understanding that there might be a larger force at play is the first step in getting back on track.  

Identify the Root Cause

Once you've acknowledged that you are experiencing workplace burnout, take a step back and think about what could be causing your prolonged frustration. Do you feel like you're not getting through to the students you work with? Are you overworked, or uninspired? Take note of the pain points you're experiencing and see if there is a connecting thread. Consider applying the same approaches you take with your students, in terms of helping them identify what's going on in their life, both in and out of the classroom. Whether you're experiencing overload burnout, frustration from a lack of opportunity, or neglecting to face your pain points, taking the time to identify what's causing your grievances is the only way to stop and fix workplace burnout.

Make Time for Yourself

In an increasingly digital world, it's easy to feel connected to work all of the time. Regardless of what is specifically causing your burnout, taking time to disconnect and focus on yourself is a critical part of maintaining personal wellbeing. Finding 15 minutes every day to take a walk can not only reduce your stress levels, but also provides exercise! Additionally, as humans, many of us are eager to please, even if we know we don't have time or capacity. Learn how to say no, or asking if something can be done at a later time is an important part of preventing workplace burnout, without letting down your employer or the students you work with. By taking the time to focus on your wellbeing, you'll be better equipped to approach the pain points you're facing at work that are contributing to your burnout.

Take a Stand

Being proactive in making the necessary changes in your personal and professional life is a critical element of overcoming workplace burnout. Whether you need to have a difficult conversation with a colleague or employer, or simply need to create time to focus on yourself, taking an active approach to fighting the root of the problem, not simply treating the symptoms is what will ensure long-lasting results. Feeling burnout at work can significantly impact your ability to be effective, and may even hurt your relationships with the students you support. Not every workplace annoyance will result in full-scale burnout, but by acknowledging what you're feeling and taking the time to address the pain points, you can absolutely manage (and prevent!) workplace burnout.

Note: There is a fine line between workplace burnout and dangerous levels of stress. If your symptoms are physical in nature, leading to weight gain or loss, inability to sleep, or significant anxiety, you should seek professional help. Stress can result in serious long-term physical damage and shouldn't be ignored or misdiagnosed.

Additional Resources:

Preventing Burnout: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Coping Strategies,
How To Prevent Burnout: 13 Signs You're On The Edge,
Job burnout: How to spot it and take action,

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