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Burnout checklist (and tips to avoid it!)

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You’ve probably heard of the concept of work-related burnout, but what is it, exactly? What does it feel like? And perhaps most importantly, how can you avoid it? We’ve got answers, including how we’re going out of our way to help the people on our team be, feel and do their best every day at Johnson & Johnson.

What is burnout?

Not technically a “medical disorder,” burnout is instead defined as a “work-related phenomenon” caused by “chronic workplace stress” in the WHO’s ICD-11—the authority on such matters.

How that kind of stress manifests itself, as well as what it feels like, differs from one individual to the next, of course, but common symptoms of burnout include:

  • Higher-than-usual levels of on-the-job fatigue or exhaustion
  • Increasingly negative or cynical attitudes towards work
  • A general sense of futility or ineffectiveness on the job

Note that symptoms like these can also lead to a host of negative health consequences, ranging from heart disease to elevated blood pressure, increased vulnerability to illnesses and more. So burnout is something we all need to take seriously. How to know if you’re at risk?

Burnout checklist

Think you’re potentially experiencing symptoms of on-the-job burnout right now? For clues that might point to an answer, take a moment to assess whether any of the following statements describe the way you’re feeling.

  • It’s hard for me to get out of bed in the morning.
  • I have a lot of difficulty focusing on my work these days.
  • Work-related tasks take much longer for me to complete than they used to.
  • I recently accomplished something at work but didn’t feel the sense of satisfaction that used to go along with it.
  • I easily become impatient or annoyed nowadays when I’m interacting with colleagues.
  • I keep falling behind on deadlines, despite putting in more and more hours at work.

If any of the above ring true for you, the reality is that you might be experiencing burnout. What you can you do about it?

Advice on avoiding burnout

The rise of mass remote work, blurring the lines between where professional life ends and personal life begins, is part of the reason why burnout now seems pervasive, and why working parents, in particular, seem to be at elevated risk, according to research.

Indeed, that’s something Mike McCarry—who recently joined our team, became an expecting father and found himself working 100% remotely, all in rapid succession—can speak to.

“Becoming a father has been hands down the biggest change I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and to have it happen simultaneously with starting a new job and COVID-19, well, obviously that made things a bit more difficult,” the Global Brand and Digital Marketing Manager admitted.

Ripe conditions for burnout, you would think. But Mike credits the great support he received from his manager—herself a working mother—as a key factor in helping him avoid it.

“My manager said to me, ‘Look, there are always going to be work-related pressures and deadlines that have to be met. Those aren’t going away. But what you’re going through right now is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and your family has to come first.’ Hearing that from her made a really big difference.”

Over time, something else occurred to Mike as well: “What I was going through, the anxiety I was feeling, a lot of it was in my head. The whole time I had been thinking, ’You’ve got to perform, you have to do this or that,’ when the perspective from my leadership team was actually the opposite. They were like, ‘No, you need to focus on your family.’ So I started to realize everything really was going to be okay. I’m allowed to be a dad. I’m supposed to take time to do this right now.”

In that vein, Mike shared the following simple tips for anyone trying to keep burnout at bay.

  • Breathe: “Sometimes, just taking a second to clear your head is enough to regain your composure and find the right perspective. Try to reflect on what’s important, what really matters and the mission behind the work that you do.”
  • Take time off: “Paternity leave gave me the time and space I needed to focus on my daughter and really be in the moment for with her. Honestly, I didn’t think about my job or check my work email once during my time away.”
  • Put a support system in place: “You need to know who you can go to—people who have your back and can talk you off of the cliff when you’re feeling stressed out.”

Be, feel and do your best on our team today

At Johnson & Johnson, we recognize that burnout happens in context—and that we can take deliberate, thoughtful steps to help people avoid it. That’s why we offer flexible work arrangements, strongly emphasize work/life balance, foster open dialogue around mental health and have built a culture where every voice is heard, among many other measures.

So if you’re looking for an environment where you can be, feel and do your best every single day, be sure to check out all of the ways you can join our team right now.

And before you go, why not become part of our global talent community, too? It only takes a minute—and you can even sign up to receive updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.

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