When you thrive, you can help your team thrive. So how can you proudly show your work ethic and how much you care–without burning out?

It’s easy to feel like you have to give everything you have in order to demonstrate a good work ethic. However, taking care of yourself is also a major component of being a go-getter.

As we’ve all heard the concept of putting on one’s own oxygen mask first, sometimes doing your best means *not* giving your all. If you burn out, you can’t be helpful to anyone. And, it takes a long time to recover from burnout. Better not to get there in the first place. 

So how can you showcase your work ethic while staying happy and healthy?

“There is a difference between good work ethic and commitment, and pushing too hard to the point of burnout.” –RealAgriculture

How can you tell you’re pushing too hard in the name of “work ethic”?

Others judge your work ethic based on your productivity and positivity. So if you push yourself to burnout just to show your work ethic, it simply won’t work.

How can you recognize that this is happening?

You feel overloaded and unable to give 100% to each task

Are you feeling more than a little stressed over your work? Has just completing the job become more important than putting in a thoughtful effort? You may not have enough internal resources to devote to work, but you feel irreplaceable and have expectations only you can see through–so you keep working toward burnout.

You are trying desperately to please

Sometimes we push ourselves toward burnout in order to receive the praise we feel we need. However, external praise cannot be relied upon if we hope to have a healthy relationship to our work. Continuing to grind in this way is a sure recipe for burnout. Instead, we have to take pride in ourselves.

You’re finding yourself irritable and impatient despite best intentions

Perhaps you have expressed irritability or impatience when dealing with customers or co-workers. Giving time and respect to your loved ones, friends, strangers, even yourself is becoming a nuisance, because you simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth. If this is the case, it may be a sign you are pushing your work ethic too hard.

You’re feeling unexplained pain–physical or emotional

Oftentimes, our bodies give subtle hints when things are not quite right. Your body may be presenting unexplained physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches, or shooting pains.

Alternatively, your use of drugs or alcohol might have escalated to numb emotional pain. Has using one of these substances to make it through another day become your routine? Feeling like you can only concentrate, feel comfortable, or accomplish a task when you have indulged in substance use, may be a sign of pushing too hard at work.

Your sleep or eating patterns have changed

Possibly you are struggling to eat regularly and are having a loss of appetite for food or are consuming large amounts of food in a short amount of time.

Have you been experiencing constant fatigue or exhaustion? We are not talking the kind of tired where all you need is a good long nap to feel refreshed. Your sleeping patterns may be off. Perhaps you are sleeping way more or way less than usual. Either way, it’s not sustainable. 

An unrealistic work ethic harms productivity

When you push too hard to show that you have a good work ethic, you can cause yourself to burn out. Then, burnout makes it impossible to work quite so hard–and your work ethic suffers. Wouldn’t it be nice to work at a more sustainable pace, so you can be consistently proud of your work ethic?

How to take pride in your work ethic while preventing burnout

While striving to be the best employee and person you can be, it is imperative to remember to check in with yourself from time to time. Here are some suggested strategies you might use.

1. Ask for what you need

This may involve multiple approaches and persons. Establish comfortable relationships with coworkers and supervisors. Talk to them about concerns and see if they corroborate your concerns or have ideas to cope.

What company resources are available to you for support?

Be up-front about what you need to do a good job. Ask for help. Be specific. Instead of destroying yourself to achieve a goal without the proper resources, ask for the support you need to give your very best work. This shows a great work ethic: you know your needs and you’re communicating them in a timely manner.

An example of specific needs is to agree to deadlines you can meet. Everyone is better off with a realistic estimate of when you can get something done. If you know you don’t have the capacity, say so off the bat. This doesn’t come off as lazy, but rather conscientious.

2. Support others at work

Be part of the support team. Knowing you are in need, it is possible others might be needing similar support as well. You should willingly offer others your support and encouragement. Give advice to co-workers on what is or is not working for you.

Knowing others feel the same way you do can be helpful. Validating your own struggle can motivate you to seek support or try to ask for changes that help everyone. There is, after all, strength in numbers. Having a group of employees experiencing the same things helps to achieve necessary change in your workplace atmosphere.

3. Seek support from outside the office

If there are no company helps available, tap into your friends or loved ones for empathy and uplift. Oftentimes, your closest relationships will know how best to support you.

What other outside resources can you access? 

You made your way to this article, and in doing so, found a peer support network. At Supportiv, you can chat 24/7, anonymously express your feelings, receive support, and have access to insightful articles and videos pertaining to your struggles.

4. Communicate your pride

Feel good about the work you are doing, even if you’re not pushing yourself to burnout. You make a difference. Allow yourself to take compliments from others. 

An example of what you could say to communicate pride in yourself and your work might be to point out skills which are your strong suit. Something like, “I am really comfortable and swift with spreadsheets. I can do that work in no time.”

Don’t be afraid to share work you have done with others. Self-promotion is not all about bragging rather bringing to light what you have done and can do.

Remember others around you are valuable as well. Encourage your coworkers. Be a good team member.

5. Take care of your mental and physical health 

It is becoming extremely vital to balance achievement, opportunities, and demands with self care. While the aforementioned suggestions to seek support and take pride in your work assist in achieving this goal, there are other things you might consider.

If you find yourself feeling out of control, take time to step away. Sometimes you just need a break. Try a relaxing activity or a favorite hobby. Have you given mindfulness a fair chance to help?

Get control of your daily habits. Eat healthy. Regular exercise might even improve your sleep patterns and your confidence.

In general, do what you can to avoid burnout. Check out what others have done to balance work ethic and personal stamina, or find tangible tips in this burnout resource. 

Concluding remarks 

Be cautious not to jeopardize your mental and physical health in the name of a job well done. You don’t have to be a “workaholic” to be a good worker.

Being good at what you do is commendable. To companies, it is a very desirable trait. However, working yourself to the point of burnout helps nobody. Having to overcome burnout will likely become a major setback in your work.

Yet burnout can be avoided by knowing your limits, recognizing signs, and seeking out support. Remember, like the oxygen mask scenario, it is best to take care of yourself first, so you can remain helpful to others.