Forget Burnout - Are You Suffering From Brownout?
The Debrief: Tired? Uninterested in everything? Hate your job? You might have brownout
Tired all the time? Can't focus? Heart seemingly not in anything anymore? You may be suffering from brown-out, the stage before burnout that's affecting around 40% of high ranking professionals and is probably screwing up an office near you. No, it isn't as dangerous as full burnout - which manifests itself as a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that can be akin to a nervous breakdown - but it's still related to a number of different longterm problems. See also: exhaustion, being 'stuck in a rut', general malaise, and red flags.
Considering a lot of us in our 20s are working longer hours than ever before, and 51% us already regret our career choice, it's not surprising a lot of us are approaching this early burnout that renders us lethargic, depressed, and feeling generally really fed up. Speaking to The Telegraph, Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School explains: 'You’re not interested in new ideas, you’re not proactive and you’re less communicative and sociable. You’ll use any excuse to not show up. A cold becomes flu.'
Other signs include working long hours without any real interest in your job, making it a dull slog; feeling like you never really finish tasks; no longer knowing where your career is going; doing the least amount possible in meetings; using any excuse not to show up; being out of shape and eating junk food because you've lost interest in taking care of yourself, and finding it affecting your friendships and relationships. In a nutshell, it's highly career based and we've all been there, surely. But how useful is it to give more labels to what is, essentially, dissatisfaction with your job?
'Sometimes when I hear labels like this, I think they’re objectionable,' chartered psychologist Dr. John Toplis told The Debrief. 'This, however, means people are tired and rundown rather than actually really distressed so I don’t object to the term 'brownout', I think it's a good indicator you should take stock of things.'
While burnout often requires medical assistance and a real lifestyle change, and is usually because you've been taking on way too much for your brain to reasonably cope with, the brownout is merely a signal that you need to have a look at your options. Figure out what's going wrong, where the lethargy is stemming from, and how you can boost it. Short term fixes like holidays might work for a week or so, but the blues you get upon your return will, if anything, make it a lot worse.
'Whether you’re in the right career, but the office environment is getting you down, or you're not enjoying your job in any way, you’ve ended up in a difficult situation,' says Dr. Toplis. 'You have to find an escape route. Sometimes people have a really good hobby or interest, and are nearly good enough to earn a living with it. Sometimes it's good to look at family connections, to see if they know of any jobs. lways worth considering. family connections particularly in this day and age, relatives or friends can offer you work or know of jobs. The main thing is doing something about it.'
Check out our articles on finding a new job, or just packing it all in and getting away, for more help on what to do if you - or anyone you know -might be suffering from brownout. And in the meantime, start thinking of this feeling as a big red flag that you could totally be going in a better direction than you are. It's your brain's way of keeping you interested, and keeping life interesting.
Like this? You may also be interested in...
Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM
Picture: Ada Hamza
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating