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New Mexico State University New Employee Coaching Cooperative Extension Service Job Burnout Tip Sheet XXX Job Burnout It may feel strange to be talking about job burnout before you’ve hardly gotten started in your position. But knowing what it is and how to detect signs of burnout can prevent you from suffering from the results of burnout, if you are the kind of person who might be susceptible to it. “Burnout” is a popularized term for feeling an overwhelming sense of stress. The stress is usually related to pressures of time, demands of the job and the interactions with people. Moderate amounts of stress can motivate a person. But continuous and unending amounts of stress can lead to a kind of human system shutdown leading to physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. “Burnout is due to stresses of social contacts and interactions, not just from the typical job stresses. It appears to be a response to chronic and continuous stress on the job rather than occasional stress or crisis” (Worden, 1986). Physical Symptoms of Burnout – weariness and tiredness, sleep problems, muscle tension and tightness, low energy levels, chronic fatigue, accident proneness, diarrhea, back pains, loss of appetite, increased illness, or distressed facial expressions. Emotional Symptoms of Burnout – depression, uncontrollable crying, helplessness, loneliness, hopelessness, discouragement, entrapment, disenchantment, unfilled need for recognition or increased dissatisfaction. Mental Exhaustion Symptoms of Burnout – negative attitude toward oneself or work, feeling inferior or inadequate, negative attitude, mental fuzziness, lowered self-esteem, moodiness, or negative attitude toward others. Coping strategies are a good thing to build into your daily job routine whether you feel a sense of burnout coming on or not. They may save you from ever having to recover from burnout. Strategies can include being aware of what causes heightened stress levels and finding ways to reduce those things that provide excessive stress for you. Accentuate the positive with people, tasks, and personal time off the job. Change the methods or ways you are doing your job. Try to streamline tasks, delegate tasks, and complete critical tasks when your energy level is high. Keep all projects in prospective and set realistic goals. And, maybe most importantly, get away from the job. Use up your vacation days, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and give yourself permission to get enough sleep. Maybe one or more of the following activities is right for you: meditate; talk with others who have suffered through burnout and learn their methods to control it; take on a sense of humor and make it a point to laugh daily; get more involved in friendships and activities that do not involve work; manage your personal time; seek professional counseling; or find some helpful books on the subject and follow their suggestions. Worden, Phyllis. (1986). Service in Action publication. Colorado State Universtiy Cooperative Extension Service. No. 11.013. Wendy V. Hamilton, Ed.D., Department Head, Program Development and Accountability firstname.lastname@example.org The reference citation for this Tipsheet is: Hamilton, Wendy V. (2005). Job Burnout. Tipsheet XXX. Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension. Available: pda.nmsu.edu.
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