If you’re feeling tired, apathetic, and cranky, you may need more than a good night’s sleep; you could be suffering from job burnout. Early symptoms of burnout are so common, they are commonly overlooked. Learn to identify the symptoms of burnout and develop ways to protect yourself before you crash.
Experts define job burnout as a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. It’s caused by working in a stressful environment — and the salon certainly qualifies. Techs are prone to burnout because we can personally identify with being a nail tech: it’s who we are, not what we do. This makes it difficult to separate our personal and professional lives.
Test yourself as you read through the symptoms of burnout. Rate your identification with these symptoms on a scale from 1-5, with 1 being “almost never” and 5 being “all the time.” The higher the score, the more likely it is that you’ll experience burnout.
Symptoms of Burnout
____ You possess a lack of energy or excitement.
____ You struggle with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or
____ You have developed a cranky and irritable attitude.
____ You can’t shake the feeling of fatigue or exhaustion, even though
you have had enough sleep.
____ You feel overwhelmed from trying to be all things to all people.
____ The quality of your work has declined.
____ Clients and coworkers annoy you.
____ You feel powerless, as if you have no control.
____ A sense of dread comes over you when you think about work.
____ You hold a negative view of your accomplishments or position.
____ You have “nothing to give” when you get home.
____ You experience a change in sleep patterns. (You want to
sleep all the time, or you lie awake, restless.)
____ You see an increase or loss of weight.
____ You have increased your use of alcohol or drugs.
____ You find yourself overeating.
Prescription for Burnout
Dare to self-assess. Learn what motivates you. Discover what breathes life into you — and what drains the life from you. We’ve listed a number of ways to combat burnout, but only you can determine what will work for you. As you begin to know yourself (and your limits) better, you’ll be able to create an environment where you can thrive.
Schedule breaks during the day and walk away from your desk (or the salon) when you’re on a break.
Eat healthy foods. Don’t pick on candy and cookies all day. Instead, choose protein, fruits, and vegetables throughout your workday to avoid the peaks and valleys of sugary treats.
Exercise. We sit at a desk for hours every day. Get out and move! Go for a walk before or after work, or schedule time during the workday for a 20-minute walk. You may feel like you’re “too tired” to exercise, but you’ll be amazed how much it will invigorate your mind and body.
Set a goal that is not related to work. It could be to visit an exotic location. Maybe you want to run a marathon. Perhaps you want to learn a new language. Whatever it is, make it personal and measurable. It gives you an area of your life that’s all yours to control.
Set boundaries. Determine what it is that makes you feel frustrated or powerless at work, and then respect yourself enough to set boundaries. If a particular client drives you crazy, phase her out of your schedule. If it’s a coworker who is difficult, seek resolution. If it’s the salon where you work, explore new opportunities.
Reevaluate your priorities. It’s easy to get in the mindset that you have to work to support yourself or your families. But it’s counter-productive to work so much that you don’t have time to enjoy your relationships. When you have nothing left to give at the end of the day, it’s a good indication that your workday needs to be shorter.
Take a vacation. Stop saying you can’t afford to. You can’t afford not to. Even if it means staying home for a week, you need time away from the demands of the salon.
Recharge your battery. This could mean getting a massage, exercising, reading a great book, visiting friends, saying “yes” to a night out, or turning the phone off for a night alone. No matter what you do when you recharge, you need to schedule times (regularly!) when it’s “all about you.”
Learn to balance work and home. When you say “no” to someone, it allows you to say “yes” to someone else. You can’t be all things to all people. It’s “no” to the kids after a long day at work (which is a “yes” to clients who need evening appointments). It’s “no” to clients when you’ve promised your daughter a night of shopping together.
Realize you make a difference. Sometimes burnout comes because you get discouraged that you work so hard and don’t see the difference it makes. This is especially hard when you hear comments from family or friends who view your job as “sitting around talking with friends.” The truth is you make a difference in the lives of individuals. You could be the “me time” someone has scheduled to avoid her job burnout. You have the unique opportunity to share the personal accomplishments or failures of your clients. Embrace the role that you play in your clients’ lives and enjoy the influence you have on them during your time together.
Look at clients as individuals, not appointments. Instead of looking at your 10-hour day as a big lump of work, look at every client as a person who so enjoys you and your talents that they are willing to pay for your time. When you realize that each client is actually affirming you, you’ll begin to feel appreciated and valued.