How to avoid burnout

Burnout from work affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. If you’re feeling burnt out from work, you may no longer have a passion for what you do, but it doesn’t stop with how you feel about your job.

Work burnout can bleed over into your relationships, affect how you act in public, and impact your willingness to take part in social events. Whether your burnout is a result of you caring for a loved one or working long hours, it’s important to know how to spot being burned out so you can get it under control.

The signs of burnout from work aren’t always easy to identify. Not everyone exhibits the same symptoms. With that being said, there are some common signs that can serve as a baseline for you to identify whether you are indeed suffering from workplace burnout.

Is burnout in the workplace real?

If you’ve had your doubts as to whether feeling burned out from work is a real condition, researchers at the WHO (World Health Organization) define burnout at work as being an actual syndrome that is brought on by chronic exhaustion from the stress that you are unable to manage.

What’s more, WHO emphasise that burnout specifically has to do with work and not any other aspects of life, like burnout from studying. Take a moment to observe some common signs you’re overworked:

  • You are no longer as effective or efficient with your work as you used to be
  • You are displaying signs of physical exhaustion
  • You feel cynical or angry about your job

What does it mean to be burnt out?

In short, if you regularly feel physically drained, meaning you are tired at work all the time, there’s a chance you are suffering from career burnout.
This tends to happen when you are given more than you can reasonably handle. You might be able to deal with it for a while. But after so long, your body can no longer fend off the symptoms of physical exhaustion.
A good example of when burnout could occur would be if you are asked to take on a recently terminated employee’s job duties for one week, only to continue doing so for several weeks in a row.
So, what does burnout feel like? Read on to find out so you can compare it with how you feel about your job.

Am I burnt out?

If you’ve been experiencing burnout for a long time, it can start to feel like it’s the normal state of affairs and that nothing needs to change. It’s important to remind yourself what a normal work/life balance can look like.

For example, for someone who doesn’t suffer from burnout, work might be a happy and exciting place in their life. These individuals might even feel tired when they get home but not during work.

When you experience an overload at your job, you get burned out, meaning you are completely frazzled and drained of any positive energy that could or should be put toward your career.

To better understand the seriousness of this, it’s important to understand what your body goes through when burnout from work sets in.

Signs of burnout

Extreme stress at work

Feeling burnt out often comes when you are completely worn down and stressed out from work. The smallest of events and tasks may cause you to feel more stress than you can reasonably manage.
Not only can your own job suffer as a result, but those you work with are likely to bear the brunt of your burnout, either by having to take on extra work or by taking on your stress. This stress may also start to affect your relationships with people outside of work if it is something you’re bringing home every day.

It can get to the point where you stop performing your duties at a reasonable level and even the simplest tasks become difficult.

Take a moment to look at some of the most common symptoms of burnout-related fatigue. Are you feeling any of these?

  • Poor decision-making and judgment
  • Lack of hand-to-eye coordination
  • Lower immune system function
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Slow reflex and response
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Always tired or sleepy
  • Sore, aching muscles
  • Poor concentration
  • Lack of motivation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hallucinations
  • Blurry vision
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

If you find that you are feeling a lot of the above symptoms, it should be an immediate red flag that you are suffering from burnout from work. A big cause of these burnout symptoms is not getting enough sleep at home.
This could be brought on by feelings of stress. Even though burnout from work leaves you feeling completely exhausted, you could be so stressed out that you have a hard time falling asleep at night.

You’re no longer excited about work

While it isn’t uncommon for many people to feel a sense of apathy about their jobs, especially if you’ve been doing it for years, feeling burnt out at work goes much, much deeper. Aspects of work that once got you excited for the day ahead now leave you feeling disinterested, maybe even resentful.

Feelings of apathy about your job mean there is something wrong and that you need to take a step back to collect your thoughts about why you are feeling this way.

Unfortunately, many people ignore their lack of excitement and continue working more than they should. This can lead to more challenging difficulties that are harder to overcome, or impulsive and irritable behaviour, like leaving early without permission, yelling at someone, or even quitting on the spot.

Poor performance

When this happens, your performance at work will surely suffer as a result. Work duties begin to take a back seat. You no longer care what gets done, or even if anything gets done at all.
What’s worse, if you have people working under you, your symptoms of burnout from work can rub off on your subordinates. This can ultimately cause missed deadlines, poor quality control, and harm any other aspect of your job that is important to day-to-day operations.

Feeling sick

If you’re starting to feel like you are a walking burnout meme, there’s a good chance that you have developed physical illnesses as well.

This is a common problem for people who are suffering from burnout. The stress and fatigue can trigger sleeplessness and lower immune health. But there are actually many more serious conditions you may experience as a result of being burnt out. These include:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased illness
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Fainting

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, it’s important that you seek medical treatment right away. It’s possible that you may have an underlying medical condition that requires the help of a trained medical professional.

I’m burnt out, now what?

If you’ve carefully looked over the above symptoms and have determined that you are suffering from burnout from work, it’s time to get serious about seeking help. Sure, you can take a break or request a vacation. But this will only relieve your burnout in workplace symptoms momentarily.

You need a solution that will identify the root cause of your apathy and help you work toward resolving the way you’re feeling about your job. Whether you have too high a workload or need a new career entirely, burnout from work must be attacked at the core.

Your first step should be to talk to your superiors about making meaningful changes in your workplace. If you are taking on more than you can handle, you should request to have your workload adjusted to a ratio that you can reasonably manage.

Your workplaces culture may also be a bad fit. If you can work with your office to change the culture, you should get started there, but if you can’t, it may be time to dust off your resume and consider finding a new job.

If it isn’t the workload or culture and has more to do with your attitude, you may want to consider speaking with a counsellor. You may already be well aware of what’s bothering you and causing your work to be affected. But meeting with a professional therapist can show you how to make a change and enjoy a new beginning.

It’s possible that you simply demand too much from yourself. Many times, it is this feeling that you must do everything perfectly that causes burnout from work. You may even need to get more education so that you can land a career that you will be happy with. What matters is that you are proactive in making changes for the better.

Knowing how to deal with burnout at work will give you the tools you need to better yourself and your career. You might be amazed to learn that a change in attitude can do more for your job than constantly thinking you have to be the best.

Moving forward

If you would like to learn more about how you can develop the tools to better yourself and your career, get in touch today or visit our courses to learn what is on offer.