Burnout – (noun) a mental condition of feeling extremely exhausted, which leads to worsening job performance.
Burnout, sometimes called “occupational burnout” is very common. I am sure that you know someone who has felt or experienced burnout. According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.” Burnout is when someone feels extremely tired, or exhausted, due to working a lot. We can certainly talk about burnout with studying, and especially with studying languages. This comic from Itchyfeet, an online comic series, shows this problem quite well.
Learning a language and staring a career are quite similar. At first, starting a job or learning a language seems a bit easy. Everything is new and exciting. Then things become difficult. You have to keep working and working, and the easy beginning stuff isn’t there anymore. All of this can make people feel tired. You eventually hit a point of no growth or exhaustion. Sometimes you might experience a plateau, when you feel that you are not improving or getting worse, but staying the same, like a flat line on a graph. Other times, we feel so tired that we cannot go further with our tasks. In either case, it is very difficult.
So how do we know we are burnt out?
Great question. Forbes published a list of ten signs that you might be burning out.
- Exhaustion – You feel super tired. Completely tired. You cannot go on.
- lack of motivation – It’s hard for you to work hard at your job or in your studies
- frustration – you feel more pessimistic, or have a more negative view, on your jobs or studying
- thinking problems – you struggle with focusing and paying attention at your office or in class
- job performance becoming worse – Compare your current job performance, or how well you are doing your job, to how you performed in the past. Are you doing better, the same, or worse?
- problems between people at work and home – you struggle with your friendships and family life
- not taking care of yourself – you are not eating balanced, healthy meals, or skipping showers.
- always thinking about work even when you aren not working – It’s a Saturday night, and there’s no work to do! Why do you keep worrying about work?
- dissatisfaction – not feeling happy about where you are, and what you are studying.
- health problems – feeling physically sicker now with a heavier workload than you did when things were easier?
So what should I do?
Great question! There’s a couple of things you can do, such as…
- Unplug – Try to avoid the office or the text book for a bit. Let your brain rest. This is true about learning a language. Maybe instead of studying nonstop about verb tenses, watch a movie in English (or the language you are studying). Remember the fun parts of the job or language, and that means stepping away from it for a bit.
- 20 minute down time – You may want to work, work, work, but sometimes your brain needs to not do anything for a short time. Studies show that A little bit of quiet time does great things for our job and learning performance.
- Organize – I do this a lot. Sometimes burnout happens because we have a lot we want to do. Sometimes, doing less will lead to more work being done. Make a list of things you need to do, and focus on accomplishing two or three important things on that list. If it is very important, concentrate on doing just one thing. Focus your energy to accomplishing those goals. You will feel accomplished. If you have extra goals you want to accomplish, you can do so and feel even better about yourself.
exhausted (adjective) – to feel extremely tired.
plateau (verb) – to not change, to stay the same.
pessimistic (adjective) – to have a negative view point or opinion.
job performance (noun) – the quality of how you do your job.