How to Stop Burnout

By Abigail Jones from American Express.

“Are you approaching burnout? You’re not alone. Discover the signs you need to look out for and how to reignite. Here we discuss the ‘mid-life crisis’ of females/PA’s and champion how to not lose one’s sense of self. How do we rediscover passion, expectations and a renewed sense of excitement and embrace settling into one’s own skin? How can you get that roar back to deafening levels?”

Burnout, another way of describing multiple chronic stress over an extended period of time, is something that can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, and job title. Millennial females are now experiencing it before the age of 30, and women are three times as likely as men to suffer from stress and anxiety. Admin professionals, PA’s and EA’s, who juggle constant pressure, expectations, and unrealistic deadlines are at risk, particularly those who have been in the industry for some time and have taxing responsibilities outside of the work place, such as managing child care and personal lives.

The signs of burnout are:

  • Physical, emotional or mental exhaustion.
  • No enthusiasm and lack of motivation.
  • A pessimistic outlook, combined with frustration or cynicism.
  • Cognitive problems- finding it harder to remember things or becoming more forgetful.
  • A declining job performance, compared to your previous years.
  • Interpersonal difficulties at home or work, or withdrawal from engaging.
  • Lack of looking after yourself- affecting diet, exercise and sleep.
  • Being preoccupied with work, out of hours.
  • Generally a decreased satisfaction with life.

For PA’s and EA’s, burnout tends to happen when they sacrifice too much to their jobs, without getting any feeling of accomplishment or recognition in return. Assistants are in the difficult position of giving up the balance in their own personal lives, to make it possible for someone else’s. Burnout has the end result of reducing efficiency within the work place- the kiss of death for a role which puts efficiency, competence and organisation at the very top of the job description. If you have been working in this role for some time, maintaining enthusiasm for yet another set of expenses waiting to be processed, or the meeting that needs to be rescheduled yet again, is not easy.

There are practical ways of dealing with potential burnout- first, it needs to be recognised and acknowledged. If the list above describes you, it is time to seriously reassess. You may need to actively seek to relax- a hard task for a busy PA, but essential. A rich, non working life needs to be cultivated, to allow energy to be expended in a non working environment. You may need to ‘unplug’ from the emails, phone calls, and social media accounts, for a set period of time, so that you don’t constantly wait on edge for the next communication. You can pursue self development through continuous learning- keep your brain active and focus on something other than the day to day tasks to give variety. Network with other PA’s- find out how they deal with busy lives, and share your problems and experiences. And ultimately, perhaps it is time for a change of job- if the ennui is created by your current role, it may be right to look for something new to challenge you. It only takes one person to change your life- YOU.

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