Burnout at work is real. It’s a special kind of work-related stress. Burnout at work is a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that can be tied to a loss of personal identity and reduced productivity. Does this resonate with you? Learn the signs of burnout at work and what you can do about it.
Signs of work burnout can include:
If you think you might be suffering from this common condition, it’s time to learn the signs of work burnout. Recognizing the symptoms can help you address them.
The term burnout has been around for a while. Coined in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, the term burnout refers to a number of symptoms that are induced by work-related stress. It isn’t a medical condition, but some experts think depression could be the culprit behind burnout. Job burnout can affect your physical and mental health.
According to Freudenberger, burnout is most common in “helping” related professions. Doctors, nurses, social workers and other helpers might be more prone to burnout. In today’s work environment, though, burnout can affect anyone. Stressed out workers, homemakers and even influencers can suffer from burnout. Even you could end up feeling burnt out. You might describe this feeling as unable to cope, listless and exhausted.
A stressful lifestyle can put you under pressure and lead to burnout. Long hours, personal conflict, demanding supervisors and other common workplace situations can lead to burnout. As a state of chronic stress, burnout can lead to:
If you’re in the middle of a bout of burnout, you might feel like you can’t function on a personal or professional level.
In most cases, you don’t wake up one morning with a case of work burnout. Instead, it sneaks up on you, slowly lurching. This means it can be difficult to identify at first as it begins to settle into full-fledged burnout. You might not notice the warning signs until it is too late.
Because it isn’t a medical condition, burnout can’t be diagnosed by your doctor like a physical illness. However, there is a formal questionnaire you can take to see if you have burnout. The Maslach Burnout Inventory is a 22-question quiz that measures emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment and depersonalization. While the test can be a reliable indicator, you’ll know in your gut if you’re suffering from burnout.
Another way you can tell if you are suffering from work-related burnout is by taking stock of certain signs and symptoms. Symptoms of burnout can vary. If you think you’re experiencing burnout, take a look at the 20 signs of burnout below. From there, you can assess your level of burnout and start making changes to combat it.
Burnout is more than just job stress. Explore these 20 signs of burnout at work and see where you fall on this condition’s continuum.
Now that you know the signs of burnout at work, you can identify them in yourself and others around you. If you are experiencing any of these signs of burnout at work, let it serve as a wakeup call. Assess the level of stress in your life and reduce it before it becomes all-consuming. Burnout isn’t like a cold. It won’t go away unless you make some changes in your life and learn some stress management techniques.
Narrowing down the cause of work burnout can help you address and combat it. Job burnout can stem from many factors, including:
You also might have a few traits that make it more likely for you to experience burnout at work. These traits might include:
The above factors and trait can all lead to job burnout. Ignored job burnout can have great consequences. Consequences of on the job stress and burnout at work can include serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, substance abuse, Type 2 diabetes and more.
It is important that you learn how to cope with burnout at work to prevent serious consequences.
While it’s good to recognize the signs of burnout at work, it’s even better to try to correct them. Here are a few steps you can take to cope with and correct burnout at work.
Getting regular physical activity can help you cope better with stress and burnout. Exercise can release endorphins, which make you feel good, and can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Take it a step further by trying a calm form of exercise like yoga or tai chi, which focuses on intentional movement, body awareness and breath work. These forms of exercise can help you relax and promote good health.
Is there anything your supervisor or human resources officer can help with to alleviate some of your stress and burnout? You might be able to work together to redefine expectations or come up with solutions to the problems in your workplace. Work with leadership to set intentions and goals. Examine your work and set priorities. Determine what needs to get done now and what can wait.
Even though it might be counterintuitive, reach out to those around you when you're feeling signs of burnout at work. Reach out to loved ones, friends and even trusted coworkers and let them know how you’re feeling. They might be able to offer support and collaborate on solutions to what is causing your burnout.
Insomnia can be a major sign of burnout at work. Even if you can’t sleep, you can rest. Sleep and rest protect your health and can help restore well being. Consider taking a day or two away from the office to catch up on rest. You can rest by binging on Netflix, reading a book, or sitting with your toes in the sand at the beach. As long as your mind is calm and your body is restful, you are restoring your mind and body.
Mindfulness is the art of present moment awareness. It’s harder than you might think. Mindfulness involves focusing on the flow of your breath and focusing on what you’re sensing and feeling in that very moment. It allows present moment awareness without judgment or interpretation. When practicing mindfulness at work, this might involve looking at situations with patience and openness.
Consider exploring new programs that offer a way to relax. Many community centers and fitness studios offer classes in yoga, tai chi, meditation and more. If you’re coping with stress, consider a slow yoga practice like yin or restorative yoga. These kinds of classes will help you stretch out tense muscles and will help you breathe out stress. Tai chi is a graceful form of exercise known for intentional movement and breathwork, which can also lead to stress reduction. Meditation is about awareness and healthy perspective. Looking into these methods of relaxing can help reduce stress levels and prevent burnout. Need help getting started? There’s likely an app for that. Comb through your app store for programs that will guide you through meditation and even basic yoga poses.
Substances like nicotine, caffeine and alcohol may give you a boost or help relieve stress, but they can do more harm than good. All three can have negative health impacts and make stress worse in the big picture. Drink more water, stop smoking and avoid alcohol when you’re experiencing signs of burnout at work.
Clinical studies have shown that spending time with a dog or cat can cut anxiety levels and even lower your blood pressure. Walking with your dog is great exercise and can lower cortisol levels and increase endorphins. Pets bring joy into our lives and can be great stress reducers. Don’t have a pet? Consider reaching out to a local animal rescue and adopting a furry friend.
If negative thoughts, stress and burnout are making your life miserable, it might be time to talk to a counselor or therapist. Many employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP) which could cover your access to mental health services or even cover the cost of counseling.
If you’re experiencing any of the signs of burnout at work, it’s time to be proactive. Take your mental health and your career path into your own hands by identifying signs of burnout at work and making strides to address it. Your health could depend on it.