The current economic crisis is causing more and more work stress among British workers. Even employees who have not lost their jobs during the economic downturn are suffering under the pressure of company downsizing and restructuring, a British Academy report has found. Work stressors can fuel depression, anxiety, suicide, and workplace injuries. Recent research has shown that they can even lead to a 50% increase in the risk of heart disease. According to the report, the public sector in particular has felt the strain, with over a quarter of employees reporting an increase in their hours.
Estimations by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have shown that work-related mental health conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety cost UK employers about £28.3 billion a year.
When you constantly suffer from severe work stress, risks are high that you will suffer from job burnout. Consider these five warning signs of burnout:
You are nervous and irritated.
If you find yourself becoming cranky and irritable even about the littlest things, this could be a warning sign. Also if you get into arguments with co-workers you used to get along with, it may be more than just typical interpersonal dynamics.
You come in late and want to leave earlier.
You used to wake up in the morning excited for another day, but now every day you dread heading into the office. Once lunch passes you start watching the clock, counting the minutes to the end of the day.
Apathy has replaced enthusiasm.
You feel no motivation, no sense of accomplishment and have no desire to be challenged. Those who have burnout lose their motivation to perform, as well as their feelings of pride for a job well done.
You're no longer interested in the company network.
You used to go to lunch, go out for drinks and participate in other company functions but now have no desire in socializing in or out of the office.
You're feeling physically ill.
You always feel tired and exhausted, have headaches, feel tension in all of your muscles and are having trouble sleeping. These physical signs are common indicators of job stress, and demonstrate that this can turn into a physical problem.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it's time to make some changes. Here are some things that you can do.
Say no when you can
Workers, especially those fearful of layoffs, often overcommit and end up with a to-do list that no single human could ever accomplish. Learn to say no when you can't possibly take on another task.
Talk to your boss
This one might be easier said than done, but most bosses really want their employees to be happy. If you're doing the job of two (or more) workers and you know you're about to buckle under the pressure, let your boss know. You can start by talking about how you can confront the problem together by redefining deadlines, delegating or outsourcing a project or two. Changing some things could make your job more manageable and your performance much better.
Find some time to unwind
When your working day is busy and you feel boxed in, find a way to take a breather, whether that means eating lunch outside, taking a 15-minute break a couple of times a day, or taking a walk during lunch break. Do something each day that lets you forget work and think about something else. And don't forget to turn off your phone during those times.
Exercise regularly, eat healthy and get enough sleep
Regular exercise can help to relieve stress and relax tense muscles. Always take your time to eat and eat slowly, bite by bite. Also try to eat foods that are rich in vitamins. Everybody needs a different amount of sleep, but always pay attention to get your minimum each night.
Not all jobs have room for flexibility, but some do. If your boss will let you come in late and stay later or come in early and leave early, that could make your life easier. Or maybe you can work from home some days. Maybe you can come in early and take an extended lunch to get a trip to the gym in. Whatever works for you and suits your job, try it. A few little changes could keep the burnout away.