By Johanna Hicks, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent
We have probably all experienced job burnout at one time or another. Sometimes all it takes is time away from the workplace to refresh and rejuvenate. Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of Job burnout vary, but may include the following:
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you find it hard to concentrate?
- Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?
Uhm … now what? What can you do to stop this train from speeding down the tracks — and eventually off the rails entirely? Keep an open mind as you consider the options. Try not to let a demanding or unrewarding job undermine your health. Often repeated advice is to take some time off. Yes, that can certainly help, but as my secretary always says, “Don’t worry about a thing while you’re gone. It will all be here when you get back!” If a vacation is all you do, it’s really just a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.
Dr. Alice Bomar, director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, points out that burnout is more than a bad day or a tough week—after all, every job has those.
“Burnout tends to be when you just don’t have any good days, and it goes on for a long period of time,” she says.
Domar suggests two things: Changing your attitude and changing your work load.
Perfectionism is closely linked with burnout, so recognizing and then removing some of these self-imposed pressures can help you breathe a little easier at work (and, hopefully, feel a little less stressed on a daily basis). It’s important that you also recognize those moments when you find yourself saying “yes” to an obligation — when you know you should really turn it down. (This is something I need to practice!) Catch your tendency to overload yourself, and you’ll (hopefully) kick that bad habit to the curb and prevent this same situation in the future.
The second change is to decrease your volume of work. Burnout can happen when you simply have too much on your plate, and in those cases, what you really need to do is lighten your load. Identify ways that you can manage a more reasonable workload moving forward. I tend to be a list-maker. I’ll make a list of tasks to be done and put a star by the most pressing issues (prioritizing). As the tasks are accomplished, I mark them off the list. Your list may never be empty, because some jobs are just that way – projects, newsletters, programs to prepare, etc. – but by breaking large tasks into smaller tasks, you eventually complete the task!
Burnout is hard to recognize, and it doesn’t go away on its own just because you finally reached a new week or checked off another item on your to-do list. Identifying and then addressing burnout requires some conscious thought and effort.
National 4-H Week
As October approaches, thoughts around our office turn to National 4-H Week. 4-H is the largest youth organization in the country, and Hopkins County has a proud history! All youth in grades 3-12 are invited to join 4-H! Oct. 6-12 is National 4-H week, and we have some activities planned. We’ll kick off the week with the reading of the 4-H proclamation by Judge Robert Newsom on the courthouse steps on Monday, Oct. 7, at 4:30 p.m. Refreshments, enrollment information, and 4-H Gazette newsletters will be available for visitors.
Also, starting on that same day, entries for the 4-H project show will be accepted. Categories and guidelines are available at the Extension Office. Entries will be judged on Friday, Oct. 11, and on display to the public the following week.
One Day 4-H is a nation-wide community service event, with each county determining its own project. Hopkins County 4-H Council members chose the Extension Office as their project! Any 4-H member who would like to participate is invited to come on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 4:30 p.m. and bring work gloves, rakes and other yard tools.
“Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.” – Earl Gray Stevens