With today's fast-paced and demanding career paths, work-related stress and burnout have become increasingly prevalent issue that affects people across many industries and professions. The constant pressure to meet deadlines, exceed expectations and maintain a delicate work-life balance can take a toll on even the most resilient workers, leaving them with thoughts of quitting or harbouring resentment towards the workplace.
Occupational burnout is more than just feeling tired or stressed; it is a state of physical, emotional and mental overload that arises from chronic workplace stress. It goes beyond the occasional bad day or temporary fatigue, seeping into every aspect of your life and leaving you feeling drained, disillusioned and detached from your work and personal life.
Recognising the signs and symptoms of work-related burnout is crucial for early intervention and prevention. Common indicators may include persistent feelings of fatigue, cynicism or detachment towards work, decreased productivity, frequent physical ailments such as headaches or stomach problems and a general sense of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfilment. Understanding the different types of burnout can help you identify which aspects of your work are contributing to the way you are feeling.
The causes of work-related burnout are multifaceted and can vary from person to person. High workloads, excessive job demands, lack of control over work-related decisions, poor balance between work and social life and a toxic work environment are just a few factors that can contribute to the development of burnout. Individual characteristics such as perfectionism, high self-expectations and a strong desire for achievement can further exacerbate the risk of burnout.
In this article, we will explore these aspects of burnout in greater detail, providing practical insights and actionable advice to empower you in navigating the challenges associated with burnout. Together, let's unravel the complexities of burnout syndrome and embark on a journey towards reclaiming fulfilment, balance and well-being in both work and life.
Understanding Career and Job Burnout
What is Career Burnout?
Job burnout is a term used to describe a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that people experience in relation to their work. It goes beyond temporary stress or fatigue and is characterised by a sense of chronic depletion, accompanied by feelings of cynicism and detachment towards your job. This condition typically develops gradually over time, as individuals are exposed to prolonged periods of intense workplace stress and pressure.
It is important to note that burnout is now recognised as a legitimate condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has included burnout in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), highlighting its significance as a global health issue.
By acknowledging burnout as a real and serious concern, we can begin to address the underlying causes, raise awareness and develop effective strategies for prevention and recovery.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout?
Physical Signs of Burnout
Burnout can manifest itself through various physical symptoms, all of which are indications of the toll that prolonged stress can take on the body. Some of the signs of impact on physical health can include:
Chronic fatigue and persistent tiredness
Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
Headaches and migraines
Weakened immune system
Muscle tension and body aches
Increased susceptibility to physical pain
Changes in appetite, including loss of appetite or overeating
Elevated heart rate and palpitations
Dizziness and lightheadedness
Skin problems, such as acne or rashes
Changes in weight, either gaining or losing weight unintentionally
Decreased libido or sexual dysfunction
Increased vulnerability to illness and slower recovery times
It's crucial to recognise that these physical symptoms should not be ignored or dismissed, as they are clear signals of an underlying problem. Addressing burnout requires a comprehensive approach that incorporates self-care, stress management techniques and seeking support from healthcare professionals if needed.
If you're feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope with career burnout, seeking counselling could provide valuable support and guidance.
Psychological Symptoms of Burnout
Alongside the physical manifestations, burnout impacts people on a psychological level. The psychological symptoms of burnout and depression are often more subtle but can be every bit as debilitating as the physical signs. Dealing with chronic work-related stress can lead to a variety of emotional and mental health issues, significantly diminishing a person's overall quality of life and well-being. Some psychological symptoms include:
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
Irritability and easily becoming frustrated or angry
Low self-esteem and self-worth
A negative outlook on life and a sense of cynicism
Difficulty concentrating and memory problems
Loss of motivation and interest in work or other activities
Increased feelings of anxiety and stress
Symptoms of depression, such as sadness, loss of pleasure, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns
Psychological symptoms of burnout can vary from person to person. If you're experiencing these symptoms, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional.
Types of Burnout and Exhaustion
Occupational burnout is the most common type of burnout and often arises when individuals feel overwhelmed, dissatisfied and emotionally drained by their careers. This type of burnout can be caused by several factors, including a lack of fulfilment, limited growth opportunities, or a mismatch between someone's personal values and the demands of the job.
One of the main contributors to burnout in the workplace is a sense of stagnation or lack of progress. When workers feel like they are not growing or advancing in their careers, it can lead to feelings of frustration and discontent. This may occur when there are limited opportunities for professional development, promotions or meaningful challenges within the workplace. When the work being performed feels monotonous or lacks purpose, individuals may question the value and significance of their career choices, leading to a loss of motivation and enthusiasm.
Another significant factor that contributes to career burnout is the misalignment between personal values and the demands of the job. When individuals are required to engage in tasks or adhere to values that contradict their own beliefs and principles, it can create a sense of dissonance and emotional exhaustion. For instance, someone who values work-life balance but is constantly expected to work long hours may experience a conflict between their personal needs and the job requirements. This conflict can erode job satisfaction and contribute to the development of burnout symptoms.
Caregiver burnout is a prevalent issue that can affect those who provide care or support to others, including healthcare professionals, social workers and family caregivers. The responsibilities and demands of caregiving can take a toll on both the emotional and physical well-being of caregivers. This type of burnout often arises from the continuous strain and challenges associated with caring for others.
One of the main causes of caregiver burnout is the overwhelming nature of the caregiving role. Caregivers often face high levels of stress and pressure as they navigate complex situations, make important decisions and manage the needs of those they care for. This can lead to mental and emotional exhaustion, leaving caregivers feeling drained and lacking energy.
Another contributing factor to caregiver burnout is the lack of self-care. Caregivers often prioritise the well-being of their loved ones and neglect their own needs in the process. They may experience feelings of guilt or selfishness when considering taking time for themselves. However, this neglect can quickly lead to burnout, as caregivers become physically exhausted, emotionally drained and mentally overwhelmed.
Recognising the signs of caregiver burnout is important in order to address it effectively. Symptoms may include increased anxiety, depression, irritability, sleep disturbances and a general sense of feeling tired and run down. It is essential for caregivers to prioritise self-care, seek support from others and establish boundaries to prevent and manage burnout.
What are the Causes of Work-Related Burnout?
High Workload and Stress
A high workload and constant pressure to meet deadlines can contribute to work-related burnout. When you are overwhelmed with tasks and responsibilities, you may neglect self-care and experience a perpetual state of stress. The demands of the job may leave little time for relaxation and rejuvenation, leading to burnout.
Lack of Control and Autonomy
Feeling a lack of control and autonomy in your job can be detrimental to mental well-being and contribute to burnout. When you feel your decisions and actions are constantly being dictated by others, you may experience a loss of satisfaction and motivation. The ability to have a say in how work is done is crucial for maintaining a sense of fulfilment and preventing burnout.
Lack of Support and Recognition
A lack of support and recognition from colleagues and supervisors can also contribute to work-related burnout. When you do not feel valued or appreciated for your efforts, it can lead to feelings of frustration and disillusionment. Without proper support systems in place, you may feel isolated and unacknowledged, increasing your susceptibility to burnout.
What are the Effects of Work-Related Burnout?
Decreased Productivity and Performance
Burnout can significantly impact performance in the workplace. Chronic fatigue and lack of motivation can result in decreased efficiency and an inability to meet deadlines. As a result, you may experience a decline in the quality of your work, further exacerbating feelings of burnout.
Physical and Mental Health Consequences
Work-related burnout can have severe consequences on both physical and mental health. Individuals experiencing burnout may be more prone to developing cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal issues, and musculoskeletal disorders. The chronic stress associated with burnout can also contribute to the development of anxiety and depression.
How to Prevent, Identify and Recover From Burnout
Setting Boundaries and Prioritising Self-Care
To prevent and overcome work-related burnout, it is essential to set boundaries and prioritise self-care. This may involve establishing clear work-life boundaries, taking regular breaks throughout the day and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being. Practising mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can also help reduce stress levels and promote mental clarity.
Seeking Support and Building a Strong Social Network
Seeking support from friends, family or colleagues is crucial in overcoming burnout. Talking about your experiences and challenges with trusted individuals can provide a sense of validation and relief. Building a strong social network and participating in activities outside of work can help maintain a healthy balance and prevent feelings of isolation and burnout.
Exploring Career Change or Job Redesign Opportunities
If work-related burnout persists despite efforts to prevent it, you may consider exploring career change or job redesign opportunities. This may involve identifying and pursuing new career paths that align with your interests and values. Alternatively, you may try to negotiate changes within your current job, such as adjusting responsibilities or seeking additional support from management.
Are You Experiencing Career Burnout?
Work-related burnout is a significant issue affecting people across all industries. Understanding the signs, causes and effects of burnout is crucial for workers and their employers to implement strategies to prevent and address it effectively. By prioritising self-care, seeking support and making necessary changes in the work environment, individuals can overcome work-related burnout and promote overall well-being.
Talens Health Support Services is dedicated to offering accessible and affordable support to individuals experiencing career burnout. Our team of BACP-registered counsellors understands the complexities of burnout and is equipped with the necessary tools and therapeutic techniques to guide you through this challenging period. We believe that talking therapy can be an effective approach to addressing burnout symptoms and improving mental well-being.
We invite you to take advantage of our offer for a free discovery session. During this appointment, you can openly discuss your situation and explore how counselling may benefit you. Our counsellors are here to provide a safe and supportive space for you to express your feelings, gain insight into your burnout and develop strategies to navigate through it.
At Talens Health Support Services, we prioritise your well-being and strive to make counselling accessible and affordable to all. Take the first step towards healing and book your free session today. Together, we can work towards restoring balance and rejuvenating your mental health.
You may be interested in reading: Is Your Job Secretly Harming Your Mental Health?