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Survive Long-Term Stress : Cope with Burnout

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It may be too late to talk about avoiding burnout. Perhaps you have reached a stage where you are disillusioned with your job and are now just going through the motions. Where do you go from here?

Change Careers

If you have lost all interest in the values that led you into your profession in the first place, then a career change may be the only option. However, you may well lose the benefit of the precious experience that you have gained within the profession, and you may be competing equally with younger people who are willing to accept lower salaries. You may also feel a strong sense of failure, whereas burnout will have been only a temporary setback if you can turn the situation around.

Change Jobs

A job change is appropriate if you are disillusioned with your organization rather than your career. You will bring with you many of your skills and much of your experience, and you can rededicate yourself to your original goals in a new environment. Make sure that you understand the causes of your burnout and that history does not repeat itself. Be aware of the stresses of a new job.

Think Smart

People can survive stress for quite a long time and then suddenly collapse. To avoid this happening to you, take steps to protect yourself from burnout. Doing nothing is not an option.

Talk to people about how you feel, take a holiday before you’re completely exhausted, and think about how you can improve your life by removing some of the more stressful elements and achieving a better balance.

Turn Burnout into Personal Growth

The most positive way to manage burnout is to treat it as a wake-up call, an opportunity to re-evaluate the way you want to live your life and what you want to achieve.

  • Why did it happen? – Deal with the sense of failure by taking a hard, dispassionate look at the circumstances leading up to it. Talk the situation through with someone you trust, looking at your workload, your actions, and those of others, and how the situation evolved. No doubt you made some mistakes, but a good deal of the blame probably lies with the situation, your colleagues, or those who set up the situation.

  • Determine your goals – Re-evaluate your goals and think about what you want to achieve with your life, giving due weight to relaxation, the quality of life issues, and the social activities that will help to protect you against burnout in the future. Make sure that your goals do not conflict, and that they are not so challenging that they become a source of excessive stress in their own right.

  • Make a new start – Assess your current position with respect to these goals using SWOT analysis, and identify where you need to develop new skills or solicit the help of other people. Make an action plan and start to work on it. This may include changing job or career, but you will be doing this as part of an active plan for the future, not as an escape.

Burnout often results in people taking a long hard look at what they are doing with their lives. They re-evaluate their priorities and focus on living a life that is worthwhile to them.

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