Here is a question for you. When was the last time you said: “I’m Bored!” If you have said it recently you should pay attention – that might be you inner voice shouting out.

According to an article in Psychology Today, boredom is often thought of as a result of doing too little, and burnout as a result of doing too much, and it is something to consider as we all try to improve our mental health.

As I investigated the link, I learned that boredom is twofold – being unoccupied or lacking interest in your current activity. The fact that many of our tasks are uniform and repetitive can lead to feelings of boredom or an inability to get ahead. Just think about long lists of emails, particularly the ones that fly in on a Friday night as work colleagues move their tasks forward by filling your inbox, sitting in back-to-back meetings with agendas that seem to move like molasses, or never being able to get to the end of the to-do list.  When these predictable tasks are married with a highly intense workload, or when you are always pushing yourself to exceed expectations this is where we find the risk of burnout, which is physical or emotional collapse caused by overwork or stress. The World Health Organization describes the characteristics of burnout as “feelings of intense fatigue, loss of control and an inability to produce concrete results at work.”

Signs of Burnout

The following list, which was put together by Forbes Coaches Council, identifies signs of burnout. If you are experiencing these, you should probably pay attention:

  1. Avoiding tough conversations
  2. Lacking concentration
  3. Asking yourself “am I burning out”
  4. Avoiding human interaction
  5. Being inauthentic – you put a “mask” on because you can’t get behind the team agenda
  6. Calling in sick, a lot
  7. Being irritable
  8. Feeling unable to engage with people or projects
  9. Becoming disillusioned and cynical

3 Things You Can Do Today to Help Prevent Burnout

Burnout can’t happen seemingly overnight, so it is vital that we keep an eye on these signs. This is particularly important if you have spent a long period working to either go beyond expectations, or just working hard to get stuff done without having your heart in the work that you are doing. Here are three things you can do today to help prevent burnout:

  1. Look at your to-do list and see if you can make it more realistic
  2. Phone a friend – talk about how you are feeling and get their feedback on what to do, or just appreciate the opportunity to talk
  3. Make a plan to reduce feelings of loss of control and intense task lists, break workload into manageable tasks and stick to your plan

About the Author

Kim Slade is the Director of Emerging Markets and Commercialization at Public Services Health & Safety Association. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications and also has an Adult Education Certificate from OISE University of Toronto. Kim is also part of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Technical Committees on Occupational Health and Safety Training as well as the Paramedic Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Standard. She has been in the field of OHS training and education for the past 15 years.