How to Avoid Burnout: An Internet Professional’s Guide
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How to Avoid Burnout: An Internet Professional’s Guide

By Mainak Biswas March 31, 2014 - 1,433 views

Anybody who works in front of the computer has a risk of being burned out more than people from other professions. Having to sit in front of a screen at a desk, not getting enough exercise, repetitive hand movements and continued eyestrain can all lead to a state of burnout. Whether you are a tech company’s CEO, a designer, a web developer, an SEO professional or just about anything, you will end up being burned out sooner than others. However, all is not so bad. There are ways to make sure that you are not so stressed out that you will actually experience a burnout. 

Understanding what a burnout is

Before going on to the tips, let us try and understand what a burnout is and how psychologists define a state of burnout. Burnout is an emotional, physical and psychological state of exhaustion which is a consequence of prolonged and extended periods of stress. When an individual feels overwhelmed by work or when he or she feels they are unable to meet certain demands of life, they experience stress. When this stressful period continues for a long time, people begin to lose interest in what they do, feel disillusioned, helpless, sad and negative about just about everything. A burnout causes an individual to be depressed, anxious, cynical, unproductive and fearful. Burnout can also elevate cholesterol, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and put an individual at the risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

There are several symptoms of a burnout. The most common ones are:

  • Blunted emotions

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

  • Lack of motivation

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Emotional distress

  • Life does not feel worthy enough to be lived

  • Feelings of detachment and depression

  • Disengagement from world

There are several causes to a burnout among Internet professionals and techies. They can be groups under these 3 categories:

Work related burnout

  • There is a lack of recognition for the work that you do

  • Highly demanding job profile

  • Unclear job expectations

  • Work that is not challenging, boring and monotonous.

  • Chaotic and highly-challenging work environment

  • Having no control over one’s work

  • Not wanting to socialize or take a break

  • Not sleeping enough

  • Not drinking enough water or eating right

  • Not having good friends or romantic relationships

  • Not understanding interpersonal expectations

  • Taking too many responsibilities

Personality traits that cause burnout

  • Being a perfectionist

  • Being a pessimist

  • Always wanting to be in control of things

  • Being a high-achiever and not wanting to accept defeats

If you feel you are going to experience burnout or if you feel you are highly stressed out, there are several things that you can do yourself in order to make your life less stressful and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. Here are some of the prevention tips that most psychologists recommend:

  1. Engage in relaxing activities

This cannot be said enough. Relaxation can come through anything. One might choose to meditate, engage in yoga or just spend sometime in the garden. You might even choose to write your diary or engage in very light physical activities. If there is a park nearby, go for a morning walk instead of checking your smartphone for Twitter updates.

  1. Eat healthy

One of the main causes of stressful conditions is not eating right. When our bodies do not receive the kind of nutrition that we require, we end up becoming stressed. Minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and flavonoids are all very important to reduce the effects of stress. Certain fruits and nuts can actually lengthen our telomeres which are responsible for ageing. This process can stop ageing and also reduce stress. Make sure to eat a lot of fruits, nuts and vegetables.

  1. Drink water

Most people do not drink the recommended amount of water. It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.

  1. Exercise and workout

Working out at the gym and lifting weights are important to both men and women. Cardio, aerobic and strength training are all important. Women will not become bulky if they lift weights. They need to lift weights in order to remain fresh and healthy. Men need to engage in aerobic activities as well as that will help to release toxins. One must also sleep for at least 7-8 hours a day no matter what. Sleep is one of the most important activities in our lives. Indeed, sleep can prolong our lives to a large extent.

  1. Learn to say no

When someone asks you to work more or when you feel like working a lot yourself, learn to say no. It is important to set boundaries and it is also important to ensure that you are not taking up responsibilities unnecessarily.

  1. Take a break from work

Try and get away from work. Speak to your manager, colleague or just about anyone whom you have to report to. If you work for yourself, inform someone that you are not feeling great and need a break. Go for a vacation or spend time at home for a while till you feel rejuvenated. There is no point in working when your mind, body and spirit are exhausted. Once you feel rested and recuperated, you can get back to work again.

  1. Take a break from technology

Every day, stay away from your smartphone for a while. Do not tweet endlessly, do not pore through your instant messaging apps or email applications endlessly. Check your messages only a few times a day. the rest of the day, do not use your phone when you do not have to. Also, do not stare at the screen of your computer if you have to work for a long time. Instead, look away and try to cup your eyes with your palm in order to rest your eyes.

  1. Engage in creative activities

Take up painting, writing, singing or something that you like to do. Creative activities can help you feel rejuvenated and young. That can also prevent stress from resulting in burnout.

  1. Manage stress

Learn to manage stress and seek help when you cannot. It is always important to recognize the symptoms of stress and make sure that you are able to deal with life’s challenges as they come.

  1. Seek help

When you know that you cannot fix your stress yourself or if the above mentioned symptoms have become too serious, see a therapist as soon as possible. A psychologist usually works with psychiatrists and nurses and will be able to suggest medical care if your anxiety and depression are very high. Prolonged burnout can result in serious psychiatric disorders which can become chronic. 

It is very important to seek help at the right time so that you do not end up becoming psychologically distressed chronically. There is a tendency among tech professionals to not seek psychological help because they tend to internalize their problems unlike people in creative fields. People in creative fields are naturally attuned to talk about their feelings, thoughts and share problems. However, people who work solely in technological realms tend to internalize their problems and sometimes even ignore what they are going through. Such habits can be seriously damaging to one’s psychological health.

All said and done, we all go through stressful situations and all of us have different capacities to withstand stress. No person is the same and our threshold limits are all different. For this reason alone, we must learn to recognize and suggest help if we believe someone around us is stressed or experiencing burnout. When people are helped, they tend to return to work all rejuvenated and more productive. There is nothing worse than having a stressed out employee in the office. The person can be unproductive and be unpleasant to others without even realizing.

If you would like to prevent a burnout, try to follow the tips that we have already mentioned. If you think you need help for yourself or someone at work, try to make sure that you speak to a counselor or psychologist as soon as possible. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible when it comes to burnout. As mentioned earlier, Internet and tech professionals tend to internalize their problems and that is never a good sign. 

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