ATTORNEYS, ARE YOU BURNED OUT?
Burnout is the emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. This exhaustion often results in depression, anxiety, apathy, and increased irritability. It can also result in many different physical conditions one of which is increased blood pressure leading to heart disease.
The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Burnout happens to those who feel overworked and undervalued. There are several workplace situations that are at higher risk for burnout than others. These situations include the following:
· Having a Work/Life Imbalance;
· Lacking control over the decisions that impact your job such as schedule, assignments, and workload;
· Lacking clarity about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor expects of you; and
· Working in a dysfunctional work environment.
In my opinion the highest risk situation for burnout is having a Work/Life Imbalance. Many attorneys suffer from a Work/Life Imbalance. Attorney personality types that are particularly susceptible to a Work/Life Imbalance are perfectionists, pessimists, control freaks, and/or Type A personalities.
A few years ago while working in corporate America I was a person with a Work/Life Imbalance. I had few friends and no family. Every part of my life was tied to my work. I worked every waking hour of my day. I paid for my diligence with depression, anxiety, and insecurity. Physically I suffered from various gut issues that made my daily life miserable. I was burned out.
Burnout is a serious condition. If you identify you are suffering from burnout, here are some practical things you can do to decrease the stress.
· Talk to someone close to you about your feelings.
· Find things you enjoy doing outside of work and do them.
· Experiment with various stress management/relaxation techniques.
· Take care of yourself by getting 8 hours of sleep per night, exercising regularly, and eating regular healthy meals.
· Bring the positive into your life, avoid negative people and situations.
· Do not work while eating and turn off technology 2 hours prior to bedtime.
· Do not take on extra assignments.
· Practice gratitude.
Each of these steps can help you decrease the stress, but ultimately, if these recommendations do not help, you must evaluate your work situation. Evaluating your work situation means looking at options to change your situation to decrease the stress and eliminate burnout.
Stress in the workplace is a constant in our society. Work hours are long, and deadlines are real. Burnout, however, is not something we just have to live with. If you are suffering from burnout ask yourself, is this how I want to spend my remaining years until retirement? If you find yourself starting to ask this type of question, you don’t have to do this alone. If you want some assistance and someone to help you be accountable to make changes in your life it may be time to contact me.