Job Burnout: How to Detect It and React
⏱ Reading Time: 7 minutes
Work-related stress is nothing new to most people, especially those in highly demanding sectors like customer service, marketing, and sales. We all work stress from time to time, and some people even thrive off of it. However, a complete burnout from your job is something that should concern you, and you need to know how to deal with it.
Job burnout is essentially when you’re tired of dealing with all aspects of your work. You no longer find joy in any aspect of your job. You get little or no sense of accomplishment from the work you do. Job burnout isn’t a medical diagnosis that a doctor or a therapist will give you. However, there are plenty of linked conditions that can either lead to job burnout or stem from it.
These conditions include depression, chronic fatigue, and other similar mental illnesses. Depending on which one is the cause and which one is the reaction, a mental health professional will likely treat you differently. Whatever the answer, job burnout is something that you need to take seriously.
Something that you can take solace in is that you are not alone.
With the constantly on the go lives we live today, up to 54% of the world’s population has dealt with, or is dealing with burnout.
The Signs of Job Burnout
One bad day or even a few bad days doesn’t count as job burnout. If those bad days continue week after week, then improvements should be made. Make some kind of change to your routine for the better.
The easy signs to look for in yourself are irritability with the people you work with, or your clients. Being constantly critical of every project or piece of work that you do is another early sign. If you find you always must drag yourself to work or watching the clock all day, you could easily be experiencing burnout. Because job burnout can relate to depression, it’s possible that you will find you get no satisfaction out of completing tasks or succeeding at work. You may also find it difficult to be productive or concentrate for extended periods of time while at work.
Job burnout can show itself in physical symptoms as your condition progresses. These can include headaches or stomach pain, which are often used as a reason to stay home and not go to work. Inability to sleep at night can be another physical sign you are burned out and need to make a change at work.
Picture 1. Burnout can cause mental, emotional and physical symptoms
How to Deal With Job Burnout
The first thing that you need to understand is that there is no easy fix.
You can’t always look at what worked for someone else and think that it will automatically work for you. Dealing with a condition as complex as job burnout is all about working out why it has happened and what that means for you as an individual.
Identify the Cause
It’s very important to understand why are you no longer satisfied with your job or it’s causing you to have serious negative emotions. There can be many reasons for job burnout, including:
- A dysfunctional work environment- You likely spend a lot of time at work in close quarters with colleagues. If the people you are interacting with on a daily basis are not pleasant to be around, you could find things hard. Maybe general work culture does not suit your personality. Maybe there is just one person who is making things worse for you—an office bully or a micromanaging boss.
- Unclear job expectations- Feeling insecure about your role in the company or what’s expected of you daily is a horrible place to be in. If you aren’t able to pinpoint exactly what you need to do, who you report to, and who reports to you, it’s hard to feel settled in your job and happy with your workplace. A lack of proper goals in your work can be a major part of this.
- An imbalance in your work-life levels- There has to be a healthy balance between how much you work and how much time you spend doing things you love. If this balance is out of kilter and you’re spending too much time focused on your job, you can very easily and quickly burn out.
- A lack of control in your job- This one links back to job expectations. If you don’t feel you are in a position of control, where you know what you are doing and you can decide for yourself, you could start to feel major burnout. This could relate to a fluctuating workload, an unstable schedule, and a lack of resources to do the tasks assigned to you.
Look at Your Options
Once you have pinpointed what is causing this burnout, you can decide what to do next. The most dramatic answer is to leave your job and find another one. There are several steps you can take before you reach that point. First, try talking to your boss or HR to figure out if there is a way forward.
It’s important to go into these discussions with plenty of self-awareness, to show that you are trying to make the workplace better for yourself. This shows initiative to your superiors and will help you direct the conversation in ways that will benefit you. If you can fix the situation rather than leave, you may find that you are far happier than you could ever be in a new job. This is because you have taken the time to find your voice and action is then taken accordingly.
Of course, staying at your job is not always going to work. The boss or managers might not want to change the atmosphere, or there may be nothing you can do to better issues. In that case, the strongest and most beneficial move will be to find other employment. The key is to understand the cause of the problem. Voice your thoughts and evaluate the response before taking action.
Picture 2. Burnout is something that affects a lot of people
Ask for Help
If your job burnout has left you with depression, anxiety or feelings of severe inadequacy, you may need to get outside help. This can be in the form of a good friend or a professional therapist. The important thing is that you don’t have to go through these feelings and this situation alone. You should always reach out to someone who will be on your side.
Asking a friend to listen to you can be great if you are in a situation where the company culture is toxic or unwelcoming. They can be a shoulder to lean on when you are deciding what to do about it. An outside opinion or another viewpoint of the situation could help you see options you can’t see on your own too.
Enlisting the help of a mental wellbeing expert can give you an unbiased view of the situation. Perhaps there are things within yourself that need to change before you can ever be happy or confident in a workplace environment. A therapist or counselor can give you the tools to deal with your burnout and any other conditions that may have developed because of it.
Picture 3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Establish Strategies for Dealing With Burnout
If you cannot leave your job for any reason or you know it is something personal that you need to change before thinking about changing your job, then having ways to deal with the emotions is critical. Calming strategies, focus exercises, and other little tricks for better mental wellbeing will help you deal with the worst of your symptoms so that you can cope with day-to-day life.
There are on-the-go strategies you should learn, like breathing exercises or techniques. These will help you when you’re struggling to deal with a particular situation, or are feeling overwhelmed or unable to concentrate. They are quick-fix strategies that bring you back to the moment and help you calm racing thoughts.
There are also external strategies that you can do outside of work to improve your mental wellbeing. These include ensuring that you have adequate sleep every night, getting plenty of exercise, and picking up a hobby that you can do just for your own pleasure. This will certainly positively affect any work-life imbalances you have and promote a better quality of life.
While the overarching symptoms of burnout are the same, everyone will experience it slightly differently. Learn how to recognize the signs in yourself, and work towards a plan that will get you back on track. Recovering from burnout is possible, you simply need to know how to react.
As an editor, Ellen Klein covers topics such as financial management and risk management, as well as health-related topics. She’s a realist and believes that planning for life’s unknowns is best. When she’s not busy with volunteer social work, she can be found scribbling away at her keyboard
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