Do you wake up in the middle of the night and your mind wonders to that concerning work-related issue? Do you bring your work back home regularly because you don’t manage to finish all your tasks at work? Feel guilty because you are finding it difficult to cope with deadlines?
If such occurrences persist beyond the occasional exceptionally busy day or week, then you risk becoming completely overwhelmed at work. You will become excessively stressed and your occupational health will suffer.
The World Health Organisation defines a healthy job as one where the pressures on employees are appropriate in relation to their abilities and resources, to the amount of control they have over their work, and to the support they receive from people who matter to them.
Work-overwhelm occurs when workers are presented with work demands and pressures that do not match their knowledge and abilities, thereby challenging their coping skills.
Fortunately, there are various tips and strategies that can help you review why your metaphorical plate is looking so full…
Assess why you are feeling overwhelmed
The first step towards a solution is acknowledgement. Sometimes, we are too proud to accept the fact that we have reached the ‘red zone’.
First, ask yourself, Is my job overwhelming overall, or was this feeling triggered by a specific issue, such as:
- too much work
- work not stimulating enough
- feeling alone
- too much negative feedback
- lack of control
- atmosphere not conducive to working in a team
- not paid well enough
- lack of time management
These are just some of the possible causes. The feeling of having too much work is generally the culprit behind feeling overwhelmed at work. Assess why it is that you are feeling overwhelmed at work and acknowledge it aloud – I’m feeling overwhelmed because …’’ Identifying the problem is critical to solving the problem.
Consider different options to address the identified problem areas
Once the specific issue(s) have been identified, consider how each issue can be addressed. Ask yourself, Can I effect some changes to the way I work to alleviate the stress, or Do I need to speak to someone within my organisation to ask for the changes that I cannot effect on my own?
For example, if you have too much work, you can work on time management, or build a case to prove how added resources can support the identified workload.
Ideally, you would first work on what you can do in terms of minor changes that are easily implemented, one at a time.
If this doesn’t work, move out of the smaller circle and expand outwards – involve colleagues, other team members, and even management when all else fails.
Taking a break from work is also valid in terms of action that can be taken. Not all action taken need necessarily be at the place of work. Devise a stricter time management plan so you can take some time to recharge for a while or take up a new hobby. Keep in mind that time management is not just about managing time at work.
Failure to address feeling overwhelmed at work can lead to burnout. Burnout is a result of ignoring stress that has existed over a long period of time.
Some symptoms of burnout include a lack of energy, being mentally distant from the job, feeling cynical or negative about work, and being less productive.
Following the above tips will help you deal with or avoid the consequences of occupational burnout syndrome.
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