Many people experience problems at their work from time to time. And it’s not unusual for people to feel stressed due to their jobs on occasion, too.
However, while a small amount of job-related stress is fine, if the issue becomes too severe or doesn’t go away, then you may be at risk of burnout. You’ll likely have heard of this condition, which has been on the rise in recent years.
It’s important to be aware of what causes burnout and the signs, both of which will help you to keep it at bay. As with most things, it’s easier to prevent burnout than manage it – though be aware that it’s not a permanent condition and is easily treatable.
Understand the Causes
There’s no single cause of burnout. Many workplace factors can contribute to it. In most cases, it’s a mixture of several factors. For example, you may be at risk of burnout if:
You Feel Lack of Control In Your Work
Having no say in the decision-making process regarding the tasks you do or how you spend your time can lead to burnout. You may also be at risk if you sense that you don’t have the tools you need to do your job correctly.
Working for someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or who induces anxiety can all lead to stress, which can be an influencing factor behind burnout.
It’s normal in some industries to have short bursts of intense work. But if you’re regularly working intensely, or that’s just your standard way of working, then you’ll be at risk of burnout. The occasional twelve-hour workday is fine, but if you work that much every day, then you’ll be at risk.
Lack of Support
Some people can handle the intensity of their work because of the strong professional and social support that surrounds them. If you don’t feel supported, then stress may build up.
Signs of Burnout
It’s important to be aware of the signs of burnout. While exhibiting signs of any of the following will not automatically mean that you’re on the road to burnout, they can provide a warning sign that something needs to change.
Exhaustion is the most common sign of burnout. With this, you’ll feel tired all the time, even when you’ve been sleeping a lot. You may find that your mental capacity is so low that it takes longer than usual to complete even the most basic of tasks.
It’s no problem to have a single day where you don’t want to get out of bed and go to work. However, if you feel like that regularly, then it’s a pretty big warning sign that something isn’t quite right.
In some cases, you may not feel like going to work because of workplace dynamics or simply because you no longer care about the outcome. If you’re getting to the point where you’re asking, “What’s the point?” then it’ll be time to seek help.
If you’ve developed tension headaches that are related to your work, then you may have burnout. However, it’s best to speak with your doctor to rule out other causes.
Many people find that burnout disrupts their regular routine. You may be eating more or less than normal, which may result in weight gain or loss.
It’s good to keep an eye on any change in your habits, not just related to your food. For instance, if you find that you’re sleeping more or less than normal, then that may also be a signifier.
Many people turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs in an effort to handle their rising stress levels.
While this approach can temporarily numb the pain of stress, if it gets out of hand, then it can create a series of problems that cause a downward spiral, and which may eventually require substance abuse treatment. If you notice that you’re becoming reliant on alcohol or other drugs, then seek help.
Burnout isn’t a medical condition. Doctors know it when they see it, but there’s disagreement about whether it actually exists or not.
Many medical professionals believe that burnout is related to depression. Even if it isn’t directly related, they do contain many of the same symptoms.
The key difference is that whereas depression can occur at any time and for any reason, burnout is attributed to specific professional circumstances. If you’re feeling depressed and attribute it to your work, then you likely have burnout.
A Pessimistic Attitude
If you’re normally a positive and happy person who has suddenly become a lot more pessimistic, then you may have burnout.
This can manifest in various ways, including being more negative in your day-to-day life or being critical of colleagues and clients at work. If this doesn’t really sound like who you are, then you may be going through burnout.
What to Do if You’re Experiencing Burnout
It’s not enjoyable to have burnout. However, there are things you can do to help minimize the symptoms.
As with depression, it’s not always possible to make the changes that are required (for instance: you may be in a negative state of mind and not want to make the effort), but it’s a good idea to try.
Some key tips for what to do if you have burnout include:
Speak to Your Supervisor
If your burnout isn’t directly caused by your supervisor, then speak to them about what you’re going through. They may be willing to lighten your workload to help. If your supervisor is partly to blame, then you can consider speaking to HR.
There are activities that can help the body and mind to relax, including yoga, meditation, and exercise.
Invest in Rest
Getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your body and mind. Equally, spending some time doing nothing but rest (watching movies on the couch, reading books) can also help.
Burnout isn’t nice, but it’s within your power to take control!