Burnout is something that we hear more and more of every day. Not to be confused by common workplace stress and tiredness, burnout can take over your whole life.
This is why we have compiled all the information you need to know: from how to recover from burnout to what it is, what the symptoms of burnout are, and how to get better at dealing with it. It’s very likely that at some point in our careers, we will all experience burnout. Knowing how to handle it can smooth the recovery and coping process.
What is Burnout?
As defined by WebMD, burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It results from emotional, physical, and mental stress for an extended period of time due to excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress.
In most cases, burnout is related to one’s job. It can make you feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up with life’s fast pace and demands. In the process, burnout can impact all aspects of your life – from personal relationships to health.
What are the Symptoms of Burnout?
Are you unsure whether what you are experiencing is burnout or something else? Well, burnout can exhibit itself in many different ways. As described by the Mayo Clinic, these are some of the symptoms of burnout that you have to watch out for:
- Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
- Diminished pride in your work
- Losing sight of yourself and your goals
- Difficulty maintaining relationships and being present with loved ones
- Frustration and irritability with co-workers
- Unexplained muscle tension, pain, fatigue, and insomnia
These symptoms of burnout can have negative consequences on your life. They can affect your work performance, keep you from enjoying your hobbies and free time, and lead to serious health concerns such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, depression, and suicide.
What Causes Burnout?
Common causes of burnout include lack of adequate social support, taking on more than one can handle at work, school, or interpersonally with family and friends, and poor self-care.
Causes for job-specific burnout can result from various factors, including:
- Lack of control. Not having a say in your day-to-day work days – such as workload, assignments, or schedule.
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. This can look like feeling undermined by colleagues, having a boss who micromanages your work or having a tough relationship with a coworker.
- Extremes of activity. If your job is monotonous or chaotic, these extremes can make you feel tired and fatigued very easily.
- Lack of social support. Feeling isolated at work or home can make you more stressed and anxious. With remote working conditions becoming the new norm, it’s easier than ever to feel isolated.
- Work-life imbalance. Not separating work from your life and having a hard time balancing them.
If you can relate to these causes and symptoms of burnout, you are not alone. According to CNN, there’s a record number of people currently leaving their jobs. More and more people are feeling unhappy, fatigued, and stressed at work. It’s time for employers to take the issue seriously – and for workers to understand how to recover from burnout effectively.
How to Recover from Burnout
1. Acknowledge that you’re experiencing it
“Society, and in particular, Americans, have not only learned to tolerate this go-go-go mode, but to also value it,” says Sheryl Ziegler, a Denver-based psychologist and author of Mommy Burnout.
You can be so used to this life that it can be hard to recognize burnout. But recognizing it is the beginning to recover back to your full self. First, take a hard look at the causes of burnout and how they relate to your life.
“It sounds really basic, but if you don’t acknowledge or label it, you won’t be able to address the underlying issues,” says Ziegler.
2. Take Breaks
Overwhelmingly, research suggests that daily recovery efforts are more important than a singular vacation or weekend getaways. Take breaks during the day to avoid burning out.
That being said, sometimes, a weekend getaway or some weeks off of work can help you reset and come back refreshed and stronger. People who take vacations are proven to have less stress, fewer health risks, a better outlook on life, and more motivation when returning to work.
Work within your abilities and means. Although not everyone has the opportunity of a two-week paid vacation, most established corporations and companies provide paid time off for their employees. Talk to your HR departments and find out what opportunities and resources you may have.
3. Reach out to your friends and family members
Research shows that burnout can be more than work-related stress. It can also be a lack of social interactions. Social interactions have been proven to increase positive emotions reliably.
Nagoski, co-author of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, recommends daily 30-minute stress-reducing conversations with loved ones. “Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and your wellbeing the same way you care about them and their wellbeing is almost always going to be beneficial,” says Nagoski.
If you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, Nagoski suggests a simple text could do the trick. Seek out connection with your loved ones, and you’ll be a step closer to beating burnout.
4. Ask for more flexibility
Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of Basecamp, put it in this Hurry, Slowly podcast interview: “Just because a company pays you doesn’t mean they own you.”
More likely than not, your job may allow more flexibility than you think. Ask yourself the following questions: Can you leave work at work tonight? Or ask for a deadline extension? Can you take yourself off that committee or take a real vacation?
Try testing out the limits you believe there are to see how you can improve your work situation. Additionally, remember your physical and mental wellbeing are a priority. Talk to your superiors if you require more flexibility. Regardless of how the conversation goes, think through your necessities and priorities and act accordingly.
5. Get some sleep
Sometimes it seems as if our work culture rewards lousy sleeping habits. For example, workers often brag about how many hours they worked and how little sleep they got to show how hardworking they are.
But the truth is that you do not need to sacrifice your sleep to be successful. A bad sleeping habit can make you unproductive and unhealthy.
Sleep deprivation or prolonged restricted sleep increases irritability, worsening mood, and feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety.
Find a good sleeping schedule and try sticking to it as best as you can. The routine and sleep hours will help you feel like yourself again.
There is Nothing Wrong With You – Sometimes You’re a Victim of a System Fueling Burnout
Burnout has recently been recognized as an official medical diagnosis. This is affecting more people than you might realize.
Over half (52%) of people on a survey by Indeed, an American worldwide employment website, responded that they are experiencing burnout in 2021. This is why workers need to start taking care of themselves.
Burnout can affect you mentally, as well as put you in danger for physical illnesses. Work is supposed to be enjoyable, or at the very least, tolerable. Work is something that you do almost every day of your life, and it should add to it, not take away from it.
So remember, don’t settle for less than you deserve. With the tips given, look for ways to improve your relationship with work and become your true self again.