Does the idea of waking up in the morning and going to work feel overwhelming and stressful? Is your dream job turning into a source of stress and anxiety? Maybe it has gotten so bad you’ve started dreading the work week and having new physical symptoms like high blood pressure and stomach problems? If that sounds familiar, it is possible you are experiencing the symptoms of workplace burnout.
There are many causes of burnout and varied types. Some of those include caregiver burnout, autistic burnout, and workplace burnout. Caregiver burnout primarily affects those who take care of people for prolonged periods of times such as an aging parent, a disabled family member, or children. Autistic burnout is burnout experienced by people on the autism spectrum due to the chronic stress an autistic person experiences trying to function in a world designed for more neurotypical people.
This article’s focus, however, is workplace burnout. This is a type of burnout caused by the stresses people experience in their workplace. Workplace burnout can affect anyone, but women and workers under the age of 30 are more likely to experience workplace burnout.
The three main characteristics of workplace burnout are a feeling of overwhelming exhaustion, a detachment from your job, and a feeling of ineffectiveness. However, these are only the start. There are both psychological and physical signs to watch for in someone who may be suffering from burnout. Some of these include gastrointestinal issues, getting sick more often than normal, overeating, undereating, alcohol abuse, an inability to sleep, the need to sleep more than normal, recurring headaches, high blood pressure, loss of interests, extreme fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, and a feeling of worthlessness. If you notice these symptoms in yourself, a colleague, or an employee there are things you can do to help.
The three main types of workplace burnout are:
Overload burnout: this type of burnout happens when you work too much and too hard for too long. This often occurs when a person is trying to advance their career rapidly or achieve very high levels of professional success. Working as much as possible, however, can lead to chronic exhaustion which can eventually result in problems that can make it difficult to maintain their desired levels of success.
There are steps to take to combat overload burnout. The first step is implementing rest in your busy day. The second step is to make sure you have an identity outside of work, so that you aren’t feeling guilty about taking time away. This can mean developing relationships with friends or family outside of your workplace or starting a new hobby that you don’t associate with work.
Neglect burnout: this type of burnout occurs when you are not given enough structure, direction, and guidance in the workplace. You may feel like the demands at work are very high, but you have not been equipped to meet them. This may lead to feelings of incompetence, uncertainty, and frustration.
To overcome this type of burnout it’s important to build yourself up and take control. If you’re not receiving enough direction from superiors a good first step is to start making your own directions. A simple to-do list and setting strong boundaries with superiors is a good place to start. You can also work on saying “no” to tasks you’re not properly equipped to handle and outsourcing to others who are when there is too much on your plate. You can also talk to your supervisor and together come up with priorities for your role and be more direct about what you can and can’t do. Communicating your abilities and what you need is a great way to help minimise neglect burnout.
Under-challenged burnout: This type of burnout happens, as the name suggests, when you are not challenged enough in the workplace. You may feel bored and lack motivation to do tasks. Sometimes this leads to feelings of cynicism and lethargy in the workplace. You might be dealing with this type of burnout if you feel like you are not developing your skills, you want harder more challenging tasks, and you feel like your current role doesn’t offer interesting opportunities. To stop or prevent these feelings it is important to explore your interests inside and outside or work. Find things you are passionate about through low pressure exploration and when you find something that suits you start with small actionable goals to improve in those areas and apply them to your work.
There are also more general actions to take if you or someone you know is starting to experience burnout or you want to prevent it. The simplest are to prioritise breaks and having hobbies outside of work. You should also take care of your physical health. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating a diet that makes you feel your best, and doing physical exercise that you enjoy. Prioritise restorative rest, however that looks for you. It is important to remember while vegging out in front of the computer or TV can be good it doesn’t always leave you feeling restored and energised. If you feel you need more support talking about how you’re feeling can be very beneficial. This can be with a friend or family member or a therapist. There are positive indications that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be very beneficial to those dealing with severe burnout, so don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
If your symptoms are worsening or you feel like you need more support, do not hesitate to reach out to a professional.
Author: Kellen Olivia Kiisler