Individual Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.
For ambitious and motivated people, work and career can be an enormous source of satisfaction — and stress. Over the last two years that simple fact has become even more evident as the lines between work and personal life have been blurred for many people. Striving to advance your career while learning how to navigate online meetings and generally coping with the pandemic has taken a toll.
Writing for HuffPost, Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro reports that “In a 2019 Everyday Health survey, about a third of American adults reported that their work or career was a significant source of stress. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has only perpetuated the burnout.”
Many people respond to the stress by seeking professional counseling, and therapists have learned a lot about work burnout over the last year. Rodriguez-Cayro interviewed a variety of psychologists to find the best advice they have for anyone stressed out or overwhelmed by work, and offers the following tips.
“Clearly communicate your work capacity.” Thanks to technology — think email — most workers can take on an ever-increasing amount of work. That’s not sustainable. Determine how much work you can handle efficiently and then set boundaries — communicate those boundaries to co-workers and management.
“Use your vacation days and sick days.” This one is so obvious it doesn’t need commentary — just do it.
“Try to practice empathy when working with difficult people.” Work relationships can often be fairly superficial. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to a tendency to fail to see co-workers as complex human beings. If a friend were being difficult, you’d suspect they were having some trouble and you’d empathize with them. Consider that this may be the case with difficult co-workers or customers.
“It’s OK to fail.” It may help to acknowledge that you learn a lot more from failure than from success.
“Abuse and mistreatment in the workplace is never OK.” If you can’t confront an abusive co-worker or manager, or if you confront them and nothing changes, it might be best to look for another job. It’s not fair, but it may be the best way to save your mental health.
“Have an identity outside or your work.” Identity is a complex subject. In simple terms, we all have many identities. Spend some time reflecting on how much you identify with your work or profession. You may need to affirm your personal identity as spouse, parent, brother — or any other way you see yourself.
“Your self-worth isn’t determined by your income or productivity at work.” In a largely materialist society, people may come, even subconsciously, to value themselves by their income or title. Is that really what you feel about your self-worth?