Frustrated woman looks at laptop

Don’t Burn Out, Cool Down

Your babysitter called in sick, you were assigned three new projects for work and now your little boy won’t stop screaming long enough for you to complete them.

You’re driving to your mom’s house to drop him off for a few hours’ peace and quiet (when you can hopefully finish those projects) when BAM — you get a flat tire. You feel like your head is on fire.

Burnout doesn’t always feel this dramatic, but the accumulation of life stresses, whether slow burn or avalanche, can wreak havoc on your job performance, family life and health. In fact, extreme burnout is considered a clinical condition. If you feel burned out, there are steps you can take to de-stress and feel better.

Know the Signs

Burnout may show itself in:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Frustration with colleagues and duties
  • Impaired performance
  • Stomachache and digestive problems

“Clinical burnout symptoms include headaches, gastrointestinal issues and sleeplessness,” says Ramona Osburn, F.A.C.H.E., senior vice president of Behavioral Health at Texas Health Resources. “Patients also gain weight because they are eating to distract themselves from their frustration.”

Take a Breather

Once you’re aware that you’re in danger of becoming burned out, take a few minutes to soothe your situation.

“First, say no if you have too many commitments,” Osburn says. “Tell your coworkers if you can’t take on any more tasks.”

For longer-term peace of mind, Osburn says, weed out stressors from daily life whenever possible. Plan gadget-free times, and remove devices such as a computer or smartphone from the bedroom. Replace work-focused times with meditation or other activities to help you calm down.

Make It Work

Forbes magazine offers a few career-specific strategies to avoid burnout on the job.

Rather than quit in a fit of temper, try to reimagine your work. Take your basic job description and nudge it in ways that allow you to express your creativity.

Look at what delights you and what drains you in your current job. Focus on the delights — perhaps even framing the more dreary tasks as necessary steps toward important goals.

Make a push for more inspiring work. Request tasks that are meaningful to you, while collaborating with colleagues to make quick work of unpleasant tasks and then focus that team spirit on more important goals.

Take It to Heart

Whatever you do, take your stress seriously.

“People don’t always realize how detrimental to their health burnout can be,” Osburn says. “People need to look at ways to cut down on frustration and improve their overall well-being.”

Stressed? Talk with a behavioral health provider at Texas Health Resources.

Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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