How exactly do you explain workplace burnout?
Okay, so you get your dream job and do everything to be the best employee. You resume early, close late and even work on weekends. Things go on fine for years, till you started feeling tired all the time and even depressed.
Let’s tell you about workplace burnout & what to do about it.
Previously defined only as a “state of vital exhaustion,” burnout has now been classified as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
The WHO emphasizes that burnout is specifically work-related—it “should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life”. This is characterised by:
- A sense of exhaustion/depletion
- Mental distance from or negativity/cynicism about work
- Decreased effectiveness
Burnout is what happens when somebody just feels depleted from doing the task at hand. It happens when the demands being put upon you exceed the resources you have to cope with them. Simply put, the tank is empty.
Workplace burnout is more than when you’ve had a bad day or a tough week— everyone experiences that from time to time. Burnout tends to be when you just don’t have any good days, and it goes on for a long period of time.
A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress and when left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships & job performance. In order to catch and combat burnout early, it’s important to know what to look out for. Here are 5 signs:
A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. This exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent. Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.
2. Lack of Motivation
When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout.
This lack of motivation may also manifest in the form of difficulty getting going in the morning or difficulty dragging yourself into work every day.
3. Frustration & Other Negative Emotions
When this happens, you may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to be.
While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.
4. Slipping Job Performance
Not sure whether you’re burnt out? Compare your current performance to previous years. As burnout tends to happen over a long time, this approach might reveal whether you’re in a temporary slump or experiencing more chronic burnout.
5. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work
This tends to manifest in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with colleagues/friends/family or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers and family members less. You might be there in person but tuned out.
Here are 5 things to do if you’ve ever noticed one or more of these symptoms:
1. Be intentional About Relaxation
Whether you take up meditation, read a book, take a walk or visit friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax and find time for it.
2. Seek out activities outside work
Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s relaxing, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community.
3. Have a Digital detox
While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors to seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
Get Enough Sleep
Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. Sleep deprivation can also lead to fatigue…
…decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too as sleep can actually improve your memory.
Recovering from chronic stress and burnout requires removing or reducing the demands on you and replenishing your resources. Sleep is one strategy for replenishing those resources. For inspiration, you can check out our tips to get better sleep.
5. Listen to your body
It’s important to be familiar with the physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression and vice versa.
So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from friends and family members.