Welcome to the Ask Chloe column on Security Boulevard! Each week, Chloé provides answers to readers’ questions to help guide them as they navigate the technology industry. This week, Chloé offers advice to an InfoSec pro who is struggling to cope with burnout, even after a vacation.
I took a trip to Mexico to escape from intense burnout. It seemed to work for the first few weeks after I returned from vacation, but then it started to kick in all over again. Do you have any advice on what I should do to get rid of burnout?
– Can’t Escape Burnout
Dear Can’t Escape Burnout,
What research has shown us is that vacations don’t entirely get rid of burnout. They are often just a Band-Aid on a much more serious situation. The reality is that recovering from burnout often takes months or even years—and it requires taking action to make more permanent changes. If possible, take some more time for yourself and really try to understand what is causing you to feel so burned out. Usually, burnout occurs when we are unable to balance our personal and work life. When we are working without boundaries, when we have poor communication and when we’re stuck in toxic workplace situations, we end up getting burned out pretty fast. As a result, our mental and physical health starts to decline because we have dealt with prolonged stress that isn’t being resolved.
Recovering from burnout requires time, patience and being able to disconnect from distractions. Try to journal whenever you can to try to understand what is going on underneath it all. What are the items in your life that are causing so much stress? Are there any emotions being suppressed? Perhaps make a list of all the items that are on your plate and see what items can be delayed, delegated or removed completely. But remember, most importantly, sometimes burnout isn’t caused by an overwhelming amount of work and tasks; it can sometimes be something that runs much deeper than that.
The majority of people tend to burn out due to their job. This may be the first step you can take—seeing what parts of your role and what elements of your workplace environment aren’t healthy for you. After you identify those, talk to your manager or someone who you can trust at the company to see if changes can occur. If those changes seem unlikely, it may be time to look elsewhere. If you can afford it, try to take time off between jobs. Time off should be used to disconnect and recharge completely so you can focus on your own happiness. In other words, stay away from anything and everything work-related when taking time off between jobs.
Even during this time of introspection, burnout can still occur if you’re not addressing your boundaries and self-care (or lack thereof). Are you struggling to maintain boundaries, such as not working during off-hours or an inability to say no? When it comes to self-care, are you doing one thing that brings you joy at least once a day? These are questions to ponder.
Overall, recovering from burnout is a journey in and of itself. Sometimes, therapy may be needed. However, the first step is to acknowledge that burnout won’t go away unless more sweeping changes are made. The second step is to allow deep introspection to understand what changes are needed at this time, such as confronting a boss or looking elsewhere for a new position. The third step is taking care of your needs by taking action. It will take time to heal, but it will get better once you start listening to your needs and taking action to put your mental and physical health first.
Learn more about the award-winning tech changemaker, Chloé Messdaghi, at https://www.chloemessdaghi.com.
Have a question? Because advice? Submit your anonymous question to Chloé: [email protected]†