Winter is over! Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox officially arrived on March 20. It is called the equinox because it is one of two days on which night and day are almost exactly the same length: 12 hours. It’s also a Latin word that literally means “equal night” (equi, equal; and nox, night).
While the equinox doesn’t have exactly 12 hours of day and night, we don’t quibble and instead look forward to a glorious season in which to shake off the winter blues, drop those “couple” of pounds picked up during the holidays, lose some money in the illegal office-wide March Madness pool, and start thinking about our carefree upcoming summer vacations.
As all who work in technology know, however, IT is a demanding task master and summer is still three months away. When you take the norms of long hours, short deadlines, and a neverending demand to do more with less, and combine them with the vicissitudes of life, you have the perfect formula for stress.
Stress in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad. A reasonable level of stress can, in fact, help us perform at high levels of competency. Stress is bad when it becomes chronic — extreme amounts of stress on a continuous basis. This type of stress can make you feel exhausted, ill, and frustrated, and cause your job performance to suffer.
Chronic stress is often a leading cause of job burnout, which occurs when you start looking for ways to avoid going to work and fantasize about taking that CIA job where you fight burly, unshaven goons in seedy dives, and your foreign contact is a belly dancer named Jasmine.
Because changing jobs and/or companies isn’t always pleasant or easy, it helps to know how to avoid burnout. Here are a few simple tips to help rejuvenate you and avoid the inevitable job hopping.
Relax — Make sure you take time to unwind form work. Get up and take a walk for several minutes every hour or two. This gives you an opportunity to connect with coworkers, or just clear your head. Exercise at the end of the day is also another great stress relief. A vigorous walk or some heavy duty progressive resistance training is certain to get those endorphins flowing.
Nutrition — People under stress tend to forget to eat right. It can be too easy to eat the wrong foods or drink the wrong liquids. No matter what commercials may show, consuming a balanced diet is the best idea. Remember, nothing tastes as good as being in shape feels.
Variety — If you’ve mastered your job responsibilities, it never hurts to ask for more. A new task or project can be just what you need. New tasks can often be more interesting and challenging and help you develop new skills. Bosses are busy people and they appreciate employees who are go-getters — they are usually glad to hand something from off their plate onto yours. Do this enough times and you may soon find yourself indispensable to the company.
Develop a non-work skill — Hobbies are a good way to relax your work “muscles” and develop some new skills. A hobby can be painting, bird watching, extreme ironing, or even faking your own death (yes, there is a guy who does that). It doesn’t matter what hobby you choose, just as long as it gets your mind of work.
Job burnout is a serious thing, but it can be avoided. Remember that you are more than an IT employee. You’re a human being who needs to grow and conquer new horizons — and, occasionally, blow off some steam.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin does not know any Jasmines, but he did once take a community education course in Expressive Movement.