Sometimes, a person comes across a point in their careers where they feel stressed and frustrated because they are unable to achieve the goals that they had set for themselves. Perhaps it was not achieving that promotion or perhaps they have not been working as productively at their jobs. Whatever the reason, many people experience burnout at their jobs. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a brand new intern fresh out of school, burnout can seriously impair how well you perform at your job and can even affect your career goals.
The question is: what is burnout?
The concept of burnout was first discussed by Freudenberger (1974) as a process that involves wearing out, failure, or becoming exhausted as a result of too much demand on someone’s energy, strength and resources. Burnout can manifest itself through physical signs such as shortness of breath, exhaustion, frequent headaches, fatigue, sleeplessness, or lingering sickness. Behavioral signs can include irritation, frustration, depression, and verbalized negative attitude.
Working at a new internship or job can be a daunting task at any stage in your career. When I started my full-time internship as a therapist right out of college, I learned about the day to day challenges and demands of being a therapist. Writing notes, seeing clients, and meeting monthly productivity standards were some of the things that I had to learn to cope with as a marriage and family therapist intern. Because the demands of the job were very different from what I learned from graduate school, I became frustrated, exhausted, and had trouble sleeping. As a result, I often dreaded going to work.
Ok, now that I know what it is, what can I do about it?
Burnout is a serious matter and there is some research that suggests that burnout and depression are similar. If you are experiencing burnout at your internship or job, it is important to reach out and use the resources available to you to get the help that you need. The first order of business it to talk to your doctor to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. You can also discuss any concerns with your work environment or job requirements with your supervisor, manager, or human resources personnel. Remember that human resources are there to help you become productive and satisfied because employees are a company’s greatest assets.
Each morning, I was exhausted and felt my stomach sink at the idea that I had to dress up and make that twenty minute commute to work. Each mile drew me closer to another unfulfilling day. Until one day, I had enough. I prepared for my morning commute, but instead of going to work I took the highway off-ramp to my doctor’s office. With the help of some much needed rest and reflection, I was able to overcome my experience with burnout and succeed at my internship.
Henry Ford once said “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. With the help of others, you can overcome your challenges and succeed.