Who never feels overwhelmed or extremely stretched from time to time? Burnout can affect anyone at a workplace; however, the recent reports show there is a rise among the reported cases from entrepreneurs, freelancers and not to mention the business owners; which equates to more than 55% of the newly reported cases globally. It does not only affect your work output but also your life on and off from work; it affects your health, mental well being, and your relation with others.
What Is Burnout?
There has not been a clear definition of burn out. However, the World Health Organization in May 2019 classified burnout as, “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” which was previously referred to as, “state of vital exhaustion.”
To my understanding, burnout can be described as the loss or the decline of meaning in one’s work which is coupled with physical, mental or emotional exhaustion which results from unresolved and long term stress. The World Health Organization sensitizes that burnout to be only work-related, thus should not be used to describe stresses from other extents of life-giving characteristics as:-
- Decline ineffectiveness in your work
- Becoming negative or cynical about work
- Experiencing exhaustion or depletion
Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
When getting up every other day to work report to work we need to have a determination of an ant. However, this does not always happen as we often experience the feeling of helplessness, unappreciated or overloaded.
Burnouts are gradual and do not happen in a day or over a short period. The signs and symptoms are elusive and become severe as time goes by. Burnout symptoms have a wider effect on an individual as far as it is a psychological disorder, sharing symptoms equivalent to those of a mental health issue and not as a mental illness.
Burnouts are more likely to result when employees;
- Have a constant feeling of incompetent
- Set too many expectations from themselves
- Are in roles that don’t fit them jobs
- Have stroppy expectations placed upon them
- Never feel like they are giving enough output at work
- General symptoms
- The decrease in the productivity levels
- Depleted energy levels
- Prone to illness
- Demotivation from work
- Mental, physical and emotional exhaustion
- Impartiality in personal relationships
- Cynic outlook on your life or your work
- Absenteeism from work
Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Burnout;
- Motivation loss
- Increase in negativity and cynical perceptions
- Feeling lonely and distancing from others
- The feeling of defeat or trapped
- Decline of motivation
- Sense of self-doubt
- The decrease in the sense of accomplishment
Physical Signs and Symptoms of Burnout;
- Change in sleep patterns (might experiencing difficulties to sleep or to get up)
- Change in appetite
- Muscle pains and constant headaches
- Tiredness and feeling drained most of the time
- Frequent illnesses due to lowered immunity levels
Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Burnout;
- The feeling of disengagement or wanting to distance from others
- Withdrawing from your responsibilities
- Constantly engaging in abnormal behaviors to cope such as drugs, alcohol and unhealthy eating
- Skiving duties; reporting to work late and leaving earlier
- Procrastinating at work; taking longer than the expected time to get the work done
- Attempts in taking your work frustrations to others
Causes of Burnouts
In most cases, the causes of workplace stress are closely related; however, the two are different mental health issues. Burnouts can be experienced from all walks of life; from the manager who has a large team that does not work cohesively, to a public officer who has not gotten an opportunity to go on leave or a mum who has to juggle between motherhood to work and personal life. Below are the causes of work-related burnouts;
- Having roles that are unchallenging or else monotonous
- Lack of support and poor communication at your workplace
- Unfair treatments at your workplace
- Lack of reward or recognition for good work; either an individual or as a team
- Working in a high-pressure environment
- Unclear job roles
- Overly demanding expectations from work
- The feeling that you have very little or no control over your work
Personality Traits Causing Burnouts
- High-achieving, Type A personality
- Having doubts about yourself and your place in society
- Reluctance to have delegation over others
- The need to be in control
- Having perfectionist tendencies; you never feel contented enough by what you do
- Letting yourself to take too many responsibilities without letting others help you or asking for help
Prevention and Treatment
The term “burnout” somehow suggests the situation is irreversible; however, the condition is not permanent and can be reversed. When you experience burnouts, there is a need to change your ways of working or do some changes in your working environments.
- Talking to someone whom you trust should be the first step. This can be your supervisor, the human resource at your department or your line manager about the issues that you feel are affecting you at your workplace.
- Set clear boundaries between your work and personal life can be very critical. Although burnouts result from the workplace, some of the risk factors are personal traits and lifestyle; such as the time one takes to sleep, relation with others at the workplace, etc.
- Take a vacation or create some time for yourself or the family; this can be in your leave days or the holiday. This offers you some temporary relief and away from work and office.
- Schedule time to recharge such as exercise breaks to help you combat burnout. This can be daily or several days in a week
- Develop clear strategies to help in stress management; this can be having enough sleep, completing designated tasks in time, self-care strategies, etc.
- At times you can change your role at work or your job if the pressure is too much and no solution
If you are having difficulties in finding a way out of the burnout situation, or maybe you suspect that you may be having other underlying mental conditions such as depression or anxiety that may worsen burnout, then, seek professional treatment as soon as possible.