Many people who have a busy work schedule may not realise that they are showing signs of burnout. Unfortunately, once the symptoms of burnout manifest themselves, a person may already be suffering from health problems. Some signs of burnout in the workplace include a lack of motivation, morbid thoughts, sleepless nights, and becoming more irritable.
Burnout often affects high-achievers who have a passion for their work. These qualities are often the ones that made the person successful in the first place. If not addressed, the signs of burnout could have a catastrophic effect on a person’s career.
Thankfully, there are many steps to ‘treat’ burnout and regain your ‘get-up-and-go’.
What is Burnout?
The dictionary describes burnout as prolonged stress or frustration that causes feelings of physical exhaustion or lack of emotional strength. The term “burnout” actually comes from when a mechanical object (like a rocket) runs out of fuel and stops working.
This feeling of extreme emotional or physical fatigue can cause a person to feel detached, cynical, and feel as if they can’t accomplish anything.
The Symptoms of Burnout
The difficulty with identifying signs of burnout is that sometimes it can feel like short-term stress. However, burnout will manifest itself to a greater degree and become chronic. For example, a stressful day at work could leave us feeling exhausted the next day. However, burnout will cause extreme fatigue where each day instills a sense of dread.
Some classic signs of workplace burnout can include:
- Chronic fatigue. You feel fatigued every day and find that you have no, or very little emotional strength left.
- Disrupted sleeping patterns. Burnout usually causes persistent insomnia when getting to sleep becomes a nightly battle.
- Difficulty concentrating. You may find that tasks and work are piling up and you find yourself spending more and more time checking emails and doing meaningless tasks.
- Physical problems. As stress increases and a feeling of not being able to cope builds up, you may find you have physical symptoms. These can include stomach cramps, chest pains, irregular heartbeat, or constant headaches.
- Loss of enjoyment. In time, you might find that you lose interest in hobbies or projects that once gave you a sense of fulfillment. This can be accompanied by a lack of interest in friends and family.
- Increased irritability. This usually starts with feelings that you are unimportant and not working efficiently. In time, irritability can cause strained relationships in the workplace and at home.
What to Do About Workplace Burnout
If you have noticed that you are experiencing any signs of workplace burnout, now is the time to act. What can you do if you are experiencing some symptoms of burnout at work? Here are some ideas:
- Take a break. First of all, it’s important to take a break to ‘recharge your batteries’. This might not seem as difficult as it seems. This could include scheduling a regular time each day to take a walk or have a break from work.
- Regular maintenance. It’s also important to fuel your body physically. This means eating regular healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough fluids. However, it’s important to avoid habits that might increase burnout like drinking too much alcohol or overeating.
- Say no. You might have to put strict time limits on your schedule to prevent too many tasks crowding out your day. Of course, saying “no” isn’t easy, but it can help to limit stress and responsibility.
- Exercise. Exercise can be one of the best ways to get extra energy and deal with burnout. Not only does physical activity help release stress, it releases ‘feel-good’ hormones from the brain that boost your mood and sense of achievement.
It’s important to remember that burnout builds up over a period of time. So, it will also take time to get into good habits that reduce stress and help you prevent burnout in the workplace.