Workplace burnout | How to recognize and recover from it
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Workplace burnout | How to recognize and recover from it

Workplace burnout is more common than we think. That’s not a good thing, though, and we need to work on changing this. According to Deloitte’s marketplace survey on burnout, professionals today are undoubtedly feeling the pressure of an ‘always on’ work culture, causing stress and sometimes leading to burnout.

Deloitte’s external marketplace survey of 1,000 full-time US professionals explores the drivers and impact of workplace burnout.

The findings indicate that 77% [that’s 770/1000 interviewed employees] of respondents say they have experienced workplace burnout at their current job, with more than 50% citing more than one occurrence.

Clearly, workplace burnout is something that requires urgent attention.

What is burnout?

According to mentalhealth-uk, burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job or have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.

Can you be burned out and not know it?

Interestingly, when asked to identify the symptoms of burnout, 85% of UK adults correctly identified symptoms of burnout, while 68% mistakenly identified symptoms of anxiety. This reveals that some people wouldn’t know when they were burned out. 

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Signs of workplace burnout 

Did you know that burnout manifests itself in different ways? Workplace burnout manifests itself in terms of behavioral, physical, and mental symptoms.

Mental and Emotional signs of workplace burnout

Mental and Emotional signs of workplace burnout include feeling helpless, trapped, and/or defeated, feeling detached/alone in the world, having a cynical/negative outlook, Self-doubt, escapism [which can lead to substance abuse], and feeling overwhelmed. 

Behavioral signs of workplace burnout

Behavioral signs of workplace burnout include abandoning responsibilities, procrastinating and taking longer to perform regular tasks, being irritable and impatient with workplace colleagues, and declining workplace performance.

Physical signs of workplace burnout

Physical signs of workplace burnout include feeling tired or drained most of the time, constant headaches and migraines, fatigue, insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, and restless sleep. 

Questions to ask yourself if you want to know if you’re burned out

  1. Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  2. Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  3. Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers, or clients?
  4. Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  5. Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  6. Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  7. Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  8. Are you using food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  9. Have your sleep habits changed?
  10. Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

Uncap your potential with the power of self-reflection

What causes workplace burnout?

What exactly causes workplace burnout? Workplace burnout in the US and in other countries is caused by the factors listed below:

  • Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job such as your schedule, assignments, or workload. All these could lead to job burnout. 
  • Unclear job expectations. If you’re unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you’re not likely to feel comfortable at work.
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, or you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. This can contribute to job stress.
  • Extremes of activity. When a job is monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused — which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
  • Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed.
  • Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.

What are the consequences of workplace burnout?

Is workplace burnout really that dangerous? Why should we bother to address it? Why not simply power through it like the boss babes we are? 

After all, breaks, and a healthy work-life balance are for lazy losers, no?

Perhaps these workplace consequences will change your mind.

Consequences of prolonged workplace burnout

  1. Excessive stress
  2. Fatigue
  3. Insomnia
  4. Sadness, anger, or irritability
  5. Alcohol or substance misuse
  6. Heart disease
  7. High blood pressure
  8. Type 2 diabetes
  9. Vulnerability to illnesses

How to recover from workplace burnout 

Now that we are properly terrified of workplace burnout, how do we recover from it? What can we do to ensure we are not constantly recovering from workplace burnout?

Recover from workplace burnout-Actionable steps

  • Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Try to set goals for what must get done and what can wait.
  • Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends, or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore programs that can help with stress such as yoga, meditation, or tai chi.
  • Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also take your mind off work.
  • Get some sleep. Sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.
  • Choose yourself and your health. Making a change can be risky, but at the end of the day, there is only one you. The company you are killing yourself for can replace you at any time. But you can’t replace yourself, your mental health, or your physical health. 

This blog is rather timely as I’ve found myself having to make that same choice. My health has deteriorated significantly over the past few months. 

It eventually became apparent to me that if I don’t choose myself, there will be a much more difficult choice I’ll have to make down the road. So I decided to choose myself. I hope you do too. 

Workplace burnout is not a joke. It is something for all of us to be aware of and for all of us to do what we can to take better care of ourselves, so we can do the things we love for longer.

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