The work keeps piling up, and so do your hours. The coffee can only last so long when you’re working past five consistently. You’re absolutely exhausted by the end of the workday – and it definitely isn’t helping that the boss doesn’t even recognize all your hard work.
What’s the point?
Avoid the dreaded “burnout” at work by making necessary changes and knowing the warning signs. Check out these indications that you may be overworked and underappreciated:
Little Things Are Frustrating the Heck Out of You
Math can take a hike off a cliff. The copier has a personal vendetta against you. Endearing habits of coworkers become ticks that you secretly mock when they’re not looking. Your boss is filled with criticism and only heaps more work on you.
What to do: Channel your frustration and emotion. Is this job worth it, and how badly do you need it right now? Will changing jobs fix the problem? Take some time away from the source of frustration to recover a sense of calm. For example, walk outside for 5-10 minutes and breathe.
For those who need to vent, writing morning pages is a form of meditation. For this morning ritual, you write three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind, allowing yourself to open up for the day ahead. All you need is paper, pen, and the morning.
Does it feel like the work you do isn’t appreciated? Once your frustration has been vented, be proud of your accomplishments and stand up for your hard work. To further your career, you have to take charge of your career path, and demand what you deserve.
You’re Spacing Out
First, you misplace your glasses, but they’re tucked into your shirt. Halfway through your day, you realize you have a half a cup of coffee from the morning left over. These little things may spiral into larger problems, such as cutting it a little too close on a deadline.
What to do: Ask yourself questions. For example: Am I overwhelmed? What do I need right now?
Give yourself a little slack though, it turns out that spacing out may make you more effective at work, when harnessed properly. Disengaging increases brain activity. When your brain is not hyper-focused on a task, blood flow increases to areas of the brain that were deactivated. For example, when you take more breaks, you feel happier and become more creative. Balance is essential.
You Can’t Turn Off
You’re always switched on at work. You’re the go-to person saddled with overflow work that’s somehow slipped through the cracks. The to-do list only grows by the hour. You somehow figure it all out, when others can’t.
However, you can’t figure out how to relax when you’re finally at home.
What to do: You’re trained to drop what you’re doing on a dime for projects with shifting priorities. As a result, you’re caught up in a constant adrenaline rush. Make relaxation a priority.
You need to minimize distractions and find time for priorities — especially relaxation. For example, dedicate twenty minutes per task, with twenty minutes for yourself to relax or work on a less stressful task. During each task, don’t let anything distract you. While writing a report, don’t check email or social media.
Use time frames that are efficient for your health and productivity. If the workload is too much, tell your employer.
Your Health Is Being Affected
Being overworked is beginning to affect your health. Stress is the reaction of the body to harmful situations, and it can exasperate existing conditions. You may notice the following:
• Weight gain or weight loss
• Persistent headaches or migraines
• You’re constantly tired, even when you try to rest.
• You’re on various medications, and nothing is changing.
• You’ve had spikes in your blood pressure.
• You are developing a dependency on drugs or alcohol.
• You’ve lost your passion for hobbies. Interest in time with family and friends is hard to muster.
• You’re experiencing an increase of mood swings and/or anxiety.
What to do: Speak to your doctor and employer if you sense that any of the above symptoms are severely affecting your health and ability to do your job. A leave of absence due to stress and health is possible. For example, under FMLA, an employee may take a leave of absence for stress by demonstrating that it is a result of a severe health condition and that it will affect your job capabilities. Other suggestions may be provided by your doctor, such as regulation of sleep or a change of diet.
Many recognize the signs of being overworked and underappreciated, but accept it as normal. This leads to burnout, when the body can no longer adjust to the strenuous pace forced on it. Take some initiative to change course before you give out and give up. With a few changes, you’ll find a work-life balance that enhances the quality of your life.
Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated tosharing advice on all things career. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum for more great tips!