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Family Matters 07/25/19

Is Your Spouse Experiencing Burnout?

troubled man

We hear a lot about burnout in the news. It can happen to a dedicated worker who becomes deeply disillusioned in their job. What used to bring meaning and satisfaction is now met with cynicism and negativity. The demands of the job far outweigh the benefits. When this happens, the World Health Organization has now labeled this condition an occupational syndrome called burnout.

Burnout leaves a person feeling empty and hopeless. It affects those around you, as well as, your performance. Burnout is something you want to avoid. Physical signs include feeling tired and drained, more illness, headaches, muscle pain, changes in sleep and/or appetite. Emotionally, a person feels a sense of failure and self-doubt and loses motivation. Behaviorally, there is isolation, procrastination, taking frustrations out on others, skipping work or leaving early.

If this sounds familiar, get your loved one to focus on changing things. Here are a few strategies to prevent burnout:  

1. Balance your workload.

High achievers tend to be conscientious and will spend long hours to keep up with multiple expectations and demands. You have to learn to say NO and set limits. Constant attention to the schedule and self-compassion is needed. Taking on too much leads to being overworked, less productive, and exhaustion. Ways to help this include:

  • Say no to work overload or ask for additional staff, a contract stating reasonable expectations, study leave, vacations, and sabbaticals.
  • Insist on keeping your days off and protect those days.
  • Look for resources to make the work less energy and time consuming.
  • Be selective in giving out your cell number (if you can).
  1. Make choices and delegate.

Avoid the extremes. Don't be a dictator or abdicate control.

  • Make role expectations very clear.
  • Extend trust. If it becomes a problem, allow people to earn it back. Trusted people can help cover the load.
  • Stop micromanaging.
  • Collaborate on the development of policies and share tasks.

3. Build a sense of belonging and community.

When there is a breakdown of community, teams don't function. You begin to isolate rather than do life together. A colleague of mine uses the phrase, "Better together." He is right, "better together" helps prevent burnout.

  • Accept people for who they are and offer grace.
  • Value diversity and opinions of others.
  • Operate with fairness, transparency, and mutual respect. No secret meetings. Distribute rewards fairly. Look beyond the bottom line when cutting staff and downsizing.
  • Be value-based in all you do.

Bottom line: It is easier to prevent burnout rather than dig your way out. Encourage your loved one to assess their work environment and do what they can to prevent burnout.

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