If this sounds like a good description of yourself, then you may well be suffering from burnout. When you go through the same routine day after day after day with little or no change, your mind becomes bored. When your mind becomes bored, it doesn't seem to want to continue to do whatever it is that it's been dealing with day in and day out.
It doesn't matter if you love your job and wouldn't change it for the world. If your mind isn't getting the challenge that it needs, you will eventually burn out.
Don't panic. We've all been there at least once. Burnout is a common problem and can easily be resolved by putting everything aside for a week or so and doing nothing but something fun and relaxing. Yes, that does sound like a vacation, doesn't it?
Oh no, you say. I can't possibly take a vacation! I have too much work that needs to be done! Again, a familiar cry. There's also another familiar cry that's heard by those who ignore the need for vacation time: I lost my job.
Your desire to work hard and get things done is a good thing. However, people who suffer from burnout don't always realize that burnout is also known in the psychological world as “work-related stress syndrome.” Two words in that should catch your attention: “stress syndrome.”
We all seem to know what stress is, but for those who need a good, cheap definition, here you are: Stress is the confusion created when the mind must override the body's basic desire to beat the living shit out of some asshole who desperately needs it. Not exactly scientific, but it does describe the problem pretty well I think.
Add the word “syndrome” to that. A syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality. In plain English, this means that burnout is a stress-related abnormality. This abnormality, when ignored, often leads to something called “work-related depression.”
Oh yes, we all seem to know what depression is. What maybe you didn't realize is that once depression hits, you have a very slim chance of overcoming it on your own. Many times it takes the assistance of a licensed mental therapist, and often enough, it may require medication to clear up.
Burnout can become a serious issue if not addressed and dealt with rather quickly. The best way to do this is to take a few steps back, turn off the computer, pack up the car, and leave town for a while. Just go out and do something that you love to do. Go fishing, skiing, backpacking, shopping, visiting old friends, museum touring, golfing, whatever it takes to get you away from work for at least 36 to 72 hours.
It doesn't matter how much work you have left to do. Deadlines at this point mean squat. You'll find that the longer you ignore your burnout problem, the less productive you are going to be. No need in letting things get that far out of hand. Call or e-mail, (or both), those people who need to know your plans, explain what's going on, ask for an extension of your deadline, and pack. In that order.
Taking this long-needed vacation will give your mind something to be challenged with or occupied by and this in turn will relax your agitation. Relaxation will leave you refreshed and ready to go back to work.
If you find that you can't relax while on your vacation, then you might consider making an appointment with a good mental health professional upon your return. It may be that you've let things go for a bit too long. Don't let it go any further; not only will your job be at stake, but your mental health and happiness may well be at stake.
Take care of yourselves! ~ Tala
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