(Written by Nancy Vogt, FEI Account Manager)

Have things at work gotten so bad that you fantasize about driving right past the office parking lot and going someplace else—anyplace else, as long as it isn’t to your desk?

Burnout can be a serious workplace issue. Stress is a major contributing factor to burnout, defined as a loss of energy for one’s work or profession accompanied by a sense of being used up or depleted. Rather than waiting to hit rock bottom, paying attention to these four signs can indicate when you’re on the way to burnout:

  1. You can’t strike a balance. First realize that the idea that you should be in perfect balance is unrealistic and undesirable. You must manage the ups and downs of your life; you can’t eliminate the drags, but you can learn to balance them with “lifts.”

    What are some examples of lifts? Go for a walk at lunch instead of sitting and staring at the computer. Spend more quality time with your partner before rushing off to check emails after dinner. Watch dopey videos on YouTube until you laugh.

  2. You get angry a lot. Are you constantly irritated, frustrated, anxious or angry? While you might try to blame your mood on everyone else, it actually says more about you. Not to mention that being angry so much of the time can take a toll on your health.

    Try to discover the root of the anger. Was it an overdue project, not having the resources you needed to do your job or a comment from your significant other or a co-worker? Strong emotions don’t just come from out of nowhere; they are triggered by thoughts. If you can trace the thought back to its roots, you may figure out the cause and therefore the solution.

  3. You’re fighting with everyone—or you’ve given up fighting at all. Conflict is both a contributor to stress and the cause of it. If it’s always there in the background—the brusque tone of your emails, simple miscommunications, etc.—it will not only ruin your day (and the day of those around you), but the longer it is left unaddressed, the more problems it will create.

    That being said, productive conflict is better than just giving up and not caring enough to voice your concerns. Invite and encourage communication about the issues at hand.

  4. You’re exhausted and uninspired. This is the hallmark of burnout. Your days feel flat and colorless, you’re bone tired and can’t remember the last time you were excited about anything. The things you used to be passionate about—your work, your kids, your hobbies—just don’t have the meaning they used to.

    At this point you don’t just need to sleep, you also need to rest. You must restore yourself by reconnecting to what matters most. Give yourself time for quiet, to get away from chaos and distractions so you can put things back into perspective and balance your priorities.

Burnout is preventable, but requires effort. Make the time to rebalance your life when you start seeing signs of burnout and avoid hitting rock bottom. If it seems too daunting a task to handle on your own, speak with human resources about your company’s EAP benefit or contact an FEI account manager.