Do you persistently feel hopeless, exhausted, cynical, and unsuccessful at work? If so, you might be experiencing burnout.
Burnout is physical or emotional exhaustion, especially because of long-term stress. It can happen when your body and mind get so stressed from working too hard, feeling unappreciated and concerned about job security, getting confused about expectation and priorities, etc. Frankly, most lawyers are no strangers to burnout. The constant demands and stressors of the profession leads many lawyers to have repeated periods of burnout.
During a period of burnout, you may lack interest and motivation in working; you may feel more melancholy or even angry. Experiencing burnout over a period of time can lead to unhappiness and depression, and in the end, it possibly threatens your health, your job, and may jeopardize your relationship with colleagues and family.
If you are experiencing burnout, what can you do to cope with it? Here are some tips to stop burnout:
1. Take care of your body – Eat right, sleep well, exercise and see a doctor if you feel burnout. Taking care of your physical health reduces burnout. This might feel exceptionally challenging when you lack motivation, but this is one of those times when the faster you take these self-care actions, the sooner you’ll experience relief.
2. Do your favorite things – Make a schedule for doing things you enjoy in a day, week or month. Reading favorite books, catching up with friends, or engaging in hobbies is like recharging your batteries after going through a burnout period. It helps to make a list of activities that vary in length of time so that you can squeeze in something enjoyable even when you are pressed for time. For example, if you love hot chocolate, take a few minutes to really savor it before you dive back to work.
3. Talk with others – Communicate with others who will listen and understand you, but not judge you, such as close friends, therapist or a coach. Talking with others will ease your emotion and offer some relief. Be sure to let your emotion out in healthy and productive ways — perseverating on things that aren’t working will only prolong the burnout.
4. Make realistic goals – Setting goals for your life will give you a real sense of purpose. Make personal goals and divide them into short and long term milestones and set up a plan to achieve them. To learn and reach new goals will ease your burnout. Plus, these personal goals serve as a good motivator to keep you going when you feel burnout.
5. Enhance your relationships – Getting closer to your partner, children, friends and other people you can count on will help restore your energy. Healthy, mutual relationships can help you feel more joy, less stress, and reduce the feeling of isolation that often accompanies burnout.
6. Understand your strengths and weaknesses – Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you learn better ways to deal with day-to-day stress. Find ways to play up your strengths and either delegate items in areas where you are weak or, when the job depends on it, get support to improve upon your weaknesses.
Do you have additional tips for recovering from burnout or avoiding it altogether? We may include your tips in a future article. Email your ideas to Ann@EsquireCoaching.com. We are always interested in learning new ideas to help lawyers move past burnout.