It’s said there’s a fine line between love and hate, and the legendary late Queen frontman Freddy Mercury sang that “too much love can kill you”. That was mere months before the emaciated and haggard Mercury died from Aids-related complications.
While the musician was most likely referring to the relationships between two individuals, research shows that the love and passion we put into our jobs could be just as hazardous to our physical and mental wellbeing – resulting in what is commonly known as burnout.
In a recent Forbes article, Travis Bradberry, an authority on emotional intelligence and leadership performance, says: “Burnout often results from a misalignment of input and output; you get burnt out when you feel like you’re putting more into your work than you’re getting out of it.
“Sometimes this happens when a job isn’t rewarding, but more often than not it’s because you aren’t taking care of yourself.”
He goes on to highlight a case where a woman almost lost an eye after being so tired at work that she passed out, slammed her face against her desk and broke her cheekbone.
Burnout, according to Psychology Today, is a state of chronic stress that leads to:
- Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
Here, the affected person often displays signs of increased irritability, a lack of productivity and poor performance, and experiences feelings of apathy and hopelessness.
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
This can lead to symptoms such as impaired concentration, chronic fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, lack of appetite and even depression.
- Cynicism and detachment
This category often manifests as signs of pessimism, a lack of trust in co-workers and even family, isolation and detachment.
Burnout is nothing to scoff at and, being the insidious creature it is, it could creep up on you at any time – in spite of you boasting daily on social media how you’re #blessed and living your best life.
As much as you, or your employer, may convince yourselves that the work wheel will come to a halt without you there, this is not true. So, if you’re experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of burnout, you may want to put the following measures in place:
- Take regular breaks during the workday
Human beings work best in spurts of an hour to an hour and a half, followed by 10 to 15-minute breaks in between.
- Get organised
Daily stress doesn’t come from having too much work; it stems from being disorganised. Creating a schedule and listing items in order priority helps alleviate that stress.
Avoid checking work chat group messages and emails over dinner, and over weekends. If you can’t distance yourself electronically from your work, then you’ve never really left work.
- Schedule relaxation
You are entitled to a lunch break. Avoid eating at your desk. Taking a walk during your lunch will benefit you greatly.
It’s often said that if you find a job you love doing then you will never work another day in your life. Don’t let the thing you love doing become the thing you despise most.