Monday, June 3, 2013

And now, to purge the burnout

I must start by thanking everyone who continues to come here week after week and read whatever I've written (or in the last few weeks, not written). I truly appreciate the questions and thoughts I receive. I must confess though that in the press of the last few months, I've found myself increasingly burned out. One of my friends who went to grad school to be a therapist called my recent state "central nervous system fatigue or overload". It's a condition he sees in elite athletes and bodybuilders; the patient works out so much and doesn't allow time to recover, and consequently they exhaust easily in terms of physical and mental performance. The same can happen when you work week after week and month after month at 50 or so hours a week. I have interns in my office right now who are younger than me but experiencing this as well. 

What it takes to exhaust you is based on the individual. I can do more than some people my age (37) and less than others. I could do more when I was 30 than I can now. However, the most important two things to remember about fatigue at work are these:

  1. Know your limits and the signs of your fatigue. Don't let people put more on you than you can get done in the time allotted, especially if the piling-on is a continuous affair (I.e., it goes on for more than a month). Also, know when the workload and pressure is getting to you: do you get snippy? Have frequent nightmares or sleep poorly in general? Lose or gain a lot of weight?
  2. Tell someone that this is happening and take steps to get rest as soon as you can. Your manager can't help you unless s/he knows you're drowning in work or stress. They may be able to get you help or help you prioritize what needs to be done when so that you don't feel overwhelmed. Furthermore, give yourself the physical and mental breaks you need as soon as you can get them. I didn't follow that advice, and by the end of my deadlines, I was shouting the f-word at my boss. Not something I recommend,
I'll do my best to keep posting advice, thoughts, and questions for y'all as I'm able this summer, but I do need some rest. I don't want to just slap any old bunch of writing up here in the name of posting every week. I want to do well thought out and researched posts for y'all, and that takes energy. And I do hope all of you have some fun trips or breaks planned for the summer!

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