What is burnout?

Being burned out means feeling empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress feels like you’re drowning in responsibilities, burnout is a sense of being all dried up.

If you’ve reached the point of burnout…

Signs and symptoms

  • Alienation from work-related activities: You view your job as increasingly stressful and frustrating. You may grow cynical about your working conditions and the people you work with. You may also emotionally distance yourself and begin to feel numb about your work.
  • Physical symptoms: Chronic stress may lead to physical symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches or intestinal issues.
  • Emotional exhaustion: Burnout causes you to feel drained, unable to cope, and tired. You often lack energy to get your work done.
  • Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work—or in the home if your main job involves caring for family members. Burnout makes you feel negative about tasks. You have difficulty concentrating and often lack creativity.

Individuals experiencing burnout may be at a higher risk of developing depression.

Risk factors

According to a 2018 report by Gallup, employee burnout has five main causes:

  • Unreasonable time pressure. Employees who say they have enough time to do their work are 70 percent less likely to experience high burnout. Individuals who are not able to gain more time, such as paramedics and firefighters, are at a higher risk of burnout.
  • Lack of communication and support from a manager. Manager support offers a psychological buffer against stress. Employees who feel strongly supported by their manager are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis.
  • Lack of role clarity. Only 60 percent of workers know what is expected of them. When expectations are like moving targets, employees may become exhausted simply by trying to figure out what they are supposed to be doing.
  • Unmanageable workload. When a workload feels unmanageable, even the most optimistic employees will feel hopeless. Feeling overwhelmed can quickly lead to burnout.
  • Unfair treatment. Employees who feel they are treated unfairly at work are 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout. Unfair treatment may include things such as favoritism, unfair compensation, and mistreatment from a co-worker.

What to do about burnout

Burnout suggests it may be a permanent condition, but it’s reversible. If you’re feeling burned out you may need to make some changes to your work environment.

Approaching the human resource department about problems in the workplace or talking to a supervisor about the issues could be helpful if they are invested in creating a healthier work environment. Before having these conversation, gauge if a stigma about burnout exists in your work culture. If so, it may be better to consult your employee assistance program (EAP).

In some cases, a change in position or a new job altogether may be necessary to put an end to burnout.

Self-care strategies, like eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercises, and engaging in healthy sleep habits may help reduce some of the effects of a high-stress job.

A vacation may offer you some temporary relief too, but a week away from the office won’t be enough to help you beat burnout. Regularly scheduled breaks from work, along with daily renewal exercises, can be key to helping you combat burnout.

If you are experiencing burnout and you’re having difficulty finding your way out, or you suspect that you may also have a mental health condition such as depression, seek professional treatment.

Have you been in your job too long?

Do these eight signs that you’ve been in your job too long sound familiar?

  1. You’ve lost your love for the job and the company: Without really thinking about it, you’ve stopped making an effort, and you’re turning in work that you know is not your best. You used to take pride in your work and now you just don’t feel that way about it any more. It has become routine and boring.
  2. You could do your job in your sleep: Your working life just isn’t supplying you with any challenges and, although this might have felt great at first, you now realize that you miss them. Nothing in your working day is stimulating your intellect and you feel disappointed by the ease with which you can get away with hardly trying.
  3. You feel you don’t fit in, you’re less sociable and your colleagues bore you: If office socializing once used to be fun, it isn’t anymore. You can’t be bothered getting to know new people. You keep conversations as short and impersonal as possible, and don’t interact with colleagues once the working day is over.
  4. You’re clock-watching and hate Mondays: You arrive promptly at the start of the working day and leave immediately when it ends, keeping careful track of each break in between and making sure they never get cut short. You count the days until holidays, even if they’re only a couple of days long.
  5. You feel left out of meetings and projects: Sometimes you feel as if no one at work really notices you’re there. You don’t get asked for your opinions and no one treats you as if you have anything to contribute beyond your day-to-day work. People you feel are less qualified than you often seem to get picked first.
  6. You feel you’re being overlooked for promotion: Younger or less talented people always seem to get chosen before you. You don’t feel that you get a fair degree of praise for the work you do and you never seem to be singled out for bonuses.
  7. You’ve stopped believing in your company: When you first started out, you were passionate about what your company did or how it did it, but you feel this passion is waning. You feel disillusioned and don’t think senior staff care about the company the way you once did. You feel that it has lost its way, is betraying former ideals or is simply mediocre.
  8. You envy former colleagues who have resigned: Perhaps you tell yourself you’re not talented or brave enough to do what they did but, even if they haven’t landed on their feet, you feel they’re better off out of the company you still work for. You keep thinking about the new opportunities open to them that you’re missing out on.

Source: verywell mind www.verywellmind.com