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7 Signs of Burnout At Work That You Must Look Out For

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7 Signs of Burnout At Work That You Need to Watch For

Ovid once said “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” As he was a famous poet in Ancient Greece, you’d think that people would take his words to heart. Ideally, the world would be full of people like Ovid, who knew when to step back and relax.

The sad truth is that there are hundreds more who feel the exact opposite way. Many workers in today’s world like the hustle culture. They want to give high-level quality work in all eight hours of their day job.

However, if left unchecked, this can lead to burnout, a dangerous mental state that can ruin both your work and your life. Here’s what you need to know about the signs of burnout and how you can overcome them.

What is burnout?

First, let’s explain what burnout is and why it’s a serious concern. You might have met several colleagues at work who look tired, frustrated, and upset. Now, feeling this way at work can be normal, if it only happens once in a while.

However, do you notice anyone at work who always seems to look exhausted? Every day you head to work, whether online or on the desk, you might spot a person or several people who never seem energized. It’s likely that they are suffering from burnout.

Medically speaking, burnout is a mental and emotional state wherein you feel tired and unhappy with your job. Unlike the occasional frustration at work, burnout drags on for several days. You might try to fall asleep, completely drained of energy, only to wake up fearful about going back to work.

There are many reasons why burnout occurs. Usually, if you consistently handle a lot of stress everyday, it takes a toll on your motivation and health. You start to see signs of burnout when you feel constantly unappreciated. You might begin looking at work with jaded eyes. It can get so bad that even the things you used to enjoy in the office, like hanging with your colleagues, start to feel bothersome.

What’s scary about burnout is that it is also a rampant problem amongst workers today. Deloitte, an auditing firm, once conducted a survey with over 1000 people to ask if they had burnout or not. The result? 77% of all respondents admitted that they’ve suffered burnout at their job. 64% went on to say that they often faced work-related stress.

Another survey, this time from Indeed, used the same question to survey over 1500 people of different ages, backgrounds, and work styles. More than 50% of them admitted to feeling burnt out. In other words, not only is work-related burnout on the rise, but you might have the signs and not even realize it.

The 7 signs of burnout you need to watch for

Having burnout can cause serious problems that affect your life. It can change how you sleep, how you treat others, and how you understand yourself. Here are some signs of burnout that you need to watch for, as well as why they occur.

1. You have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep.

Having burnout can cause serious problems that affect your life. It can change how you sleep, how you treat others, and how you understand yourself. Here are some signs of burnout that you need to watch for, as well as why they occur.

Why it happens:

Whether insomnia or oversleeping, both come from the fact that burnout makes you emotionally exhausted. As one of the signs of burnout, it can stem from you being unable to turn off your work brain. You might struggle to sleep because you can’t shut out the idea of work the following day. Alternatively, you might be so tired that you lose the energy to do much else other than sleep.

2. You feel physically ill.

Aside from sleep, burnout can make you physically sick. People who suffer consistent work stress often feel headaches. They could suffer from nausea, drowsiness, and an upset stomach. You might think that being burnt out is just a mental condition, but that’s not true. If left unchecked, signs of burnout can make you feel like you need to visit the doctor for checkups.

Why it happens:

You might have heard of the placebo effect, which is when your body reacts to what your mind thinks. For example, patients that drink a pill for their headache might feel much better because they’ve taken medicine, even if said pill had no actual chemicals or ingredients.

Sadly, the same also applies to the bad thoughts in your mind. Those who suffer from multiple signs of burnout may be so stressed that their body reacts. They might gain a fever or a migraine because of how badly they feel. It’s like how people who get mad often feel tired or worn down when they’ve finally relaxed. Emotions can make your body change, and sometimes, it can make you feel worse than you expected.

3. You feel tired all the time.

One of the telltale signs of burnout is feeling tired all the time. While you can be frustrated or upset, you might still carry enough energy to finish a job without issue. If you suffer burnout, however, you might find it difficult to finish the day. Sometimes, that’s because you feel physically unwell or lack sleep, as mentioned above. Other times, you might feel emotionally spent, which keeps you from working effectively. In short, those who suffer burnout end up running on fumes, struggling to get themselves past the finish line.

Why it happens:

The formula for exhaustion is simple: stress plus time equals less and less energy. What’s worse is that those who suffer burnout might not find it easy to express their exhaustion. They could be afraid of looking ungrateful or whiny. Sadly, that makes the problem even worse because not only does the stress build up, but now they’ve shut off any space to breathe.

If exhaustion can cause you to feel tired, then how can you expect yourself to feel motivated? One of the most telling signs of burnout is when you find it hard to be happy with your job. Imagine if you entered the company and for three months, you’ve been very happy and proud of your work. Now, if that starts to fade, that might be normal.

However, if you start to hate your work or struggle getting your tasks done, that’s a serious problem. Burnout might make it hard for your brain to concentrate on single tasks, let alone several kinds per day. It can also affect your performance. For instance, writers might struggle to come up with creative ideas. They could also make simpler mistakes that they normally wouldn’t, from misspellings to poorly written phrases.

Why it happens:

Exhaustion drains your energy, which you need to do a good job and enjoy it. It’s hard to smile when you feel so tired that you can barely stand. Imagine how exhausting it must be for marathon runners when they get to the finish line. The only reason they smile, even if they aren’t the first placers, is because they feel satisfied. With exhaustion as one of the signs of burnout, you might not see any silver lining at work.

5. You constantly question your value and self-worth.

Burnout doesn’t just mess up your ability to work. It can also make you start to question your own value in your workplace. People who suffer burnout complain about being unappreciated or about not contributing to the company. Even if they do, the lack of rest and reflection makes it hard for them to enjoy what they do. They might complain about the slightest fault, even if it’s not as bad as they might think.

Worse yet, poor self-confidence is one of the worst signs of burnout you can have. You start to question your ability to do anything right. That can make you doubtful of your skill or unhappy with your results, even if they’re good. It’s like a kid who hates their birthday; even if the day is special, they might be so unhappy that they can’t see the brighter side.

Why it happens:

Burnout tends to bring the worst thoughts in a person’s mind. They might start to question why they feel tired. For those who have achieved their dream jobs, they might be so confused about why they’re unhappy. The fact is that no job is perfect. Each one will always carry some challenge or problem. What makes burnout bad is when you can’t even learn to appreciate the lessons ahead. If you start to hate everything you’re doing at work, it can make you feel worse with each passing day.

6. You feel like everything is out of your control.

Many people who feel burnt out admit that they go through a lot of workplace problems and issues. The biggest concern they have, however, is that they don’t feel like anything will change. For instance, an auditor who handles multiple clients a day might start to feel exhausted by the workload. Yet, even when that person knows it’s too much, they might not see it as anything else but necessary.

In other words, many of those with signs of burnout feel like they can’t do anything about it. Even if they know about reduced hours or workload, they might decline anyway. For them, the stress seems like an ever present thing; it won’t go away and they feel like accepting it is the only option left.

Why it happens:

Feeling tired, pained, and out of energy can sometimes make you surrender. Those who have worked for several years might suffer from long standing burnout and never understand it. For them, the issues they’ve faced become so frequent that they just accept it. It’s like a dog that gets used to being yelled at; eventually, it just admits defeat.

7. You get irritated more easily.

With all of the previous signs of burnout you’ve seen so far, it’s easy to understand why you’d be more irritable. Anyone whose sleep gets interrupted will likely be awake and angry. Similarly, those who suffer burnout might have little patience for any problems or mishaps. These people could blow up at the smallest accident, from a printer jam to a lack of coffee.

The problem is that burnout can also remove any filter or restraint a person has. Those who are normally calm and collected might start screaming with rage. All that pent-up frustration bottles up inside them and, when the time comes, it explodes. It’s also bad because those who get yelled at or treated harshly will be upset, too. So, not only does burnout spread to other people, but it can also divide colleagues and coworkers.

Why it happens:

Burnout can happen in many ways. Normally, you work so hard that you give yourself little time to rest. You could also get burnout when you work at a job that doesn’t fit you or handle a task that doesn’t suit your skills. The reason why you blow up is because you might not have an outlet for all that stress. The last thing you want to do is let it all build up like air in a balloon; if you don’t, then you’ll pop and cause more problems for yourself and for those around you.

5 proven ways to overcome burnout

Given how much burnout can affect you, it can be scary to imagine if you have it or not. Regardless, you don’t need to be afraid. Now that you know what signs of burnout exist, you can start to fight back and keep your mind safe. Here are five proven methods to help you overcome burnout.

1. Recognize whether or not you have burnout.

The first step to solving any problem is to recognize that it exists and that you have it. That means knowing the difference between a moment of stress, a bad day, and burnout itself.

For starters, a moment of stress can be a nerve-wracking experience that only affects you for a short amount of time. If it only lasts until the task is over, then you don’t have burnout. Similarly, a bad day at work isn’t a sign of burnout either. It can be embarrassing, but it doesn’t mean the rest of your days will look like that. As long as you know it’s not a constant thing, then you likely aren’t suffering burnout.

If you feel this way or notice any of the signs above, then you may have burnout. Don’t be afraid to admit it if you do. You might think that you’re exaggerating, but burnout is a serious condition. Everyone in the office could and should be honest about when they hit their breaking point. There’s no shame in feeling tired or worn out. So, if you do have signs of burnout, always remember that you have every right to care for yourself first.

2. Take time to rest your body and mind.

A big reason why people suffer from burnout in the first place is because they want to work as hard as they can. Sadly, there’s only so much you can do before your mind and body start to fall apart. The problem is that people often see taking rest or not working overtime as “lazy” or “irresponsible”.

Always remember that rest is just as important as work. In any exercise program, you’ll find that they always make time to let your body breathe. Otherwise, if you just kept lifting weights or doing cardio for hours on end, your muscles will crack under the pressure.

Of course, there are right ways and wrong ways to rest. A good rest doesn’t just mean sleeping for several hours during the day. If you want proper rest at work, try meditating or journaling your thoughts. If you spend time doing it, you give your mind enough space to relax and recharge. You also help yourself release any unwanted tension while staying true to work.

If you need a longer break, like a short vacation after six months of consistent work, take time to rest your body and enjoy yourself. 

You can try to follow new hobbies or work on existing ones. It’s both a fun way to be productive and enjoy some much-needed me time.

3. Build new hobbies and interests outside of work.

Speaking of hobbies, signs of burnout aren’t usually seen in people who know how to find joy outside of work. Sure, they may not have the best job in the world, but know how to divide their work life with their personal pastimes. With a hobby, you can learn something new and master a skill set while keeping your mind refreshed.

For example, there are people who like to spend their free time reading books. A good book lets a reader enjoy a fantastic story, real or fictional. Not only does it let the reader imagine, but it also suspends their disbelief and draws them into a different reality. In short, it keeps their mind off of the real world for the time being.

There are also hobbies that can help you at work or enhance your own resume. You can find many classes online to learn new things about investment, financing, gardening, and the like. Now, you might wonder why anyone would try to learn about work during their off-time. Well, think of it like learning a fun new trick for yourself. If you can master something interesting, such as a new language, you’d be arming yourself with more skills in the future. This way, you can help improve your abilities and learn to venture out to other jobs or tasks in the future.

4. Reach out to friends and family.

When the going gets tough, you’ll need someone to be there for you. Everyone in the world has had that moment when they felt so tired, inadequate, or unimportant that they lost hope. What has helped them change their thoughts? Well, an ally is always a good start.

If you notice that you are burnt out, you can always try and reach out to your friends and family. Those who know you best are likely to listen to your dilemma and give you advice. They can also try and help you in whatever way you need them to, from moral support to constructive feedback.

Now, if you aren’t able to reach your friends or family, don’t lose hope. You can always start by approaching or setting an appointment with a psychologist. Remember, burnout is a mental problem that can really hurt your life. A psychologist can both understand your pain and work with you to fix it. You’re never truly alone, and realizing that can be what you need to stay strong.

5. Re-evaluate your job and interests.

Lastly, if your work and your personal interests aren’t helping you, then you need to take a step back and reassess your life. Sometimes, the reason burnout happens is because people are in jobs they don’t like. They may care more about the salary or the title behind it. Some might even do so because they are branching out to see what they are good at.

If your job is the main reason why you have signs of burnout, and it’s the kind of work you dislike, you need to think carefully. Are you willing to stick to this profession? If so, you’ll need to start reviewing what your work is like and why you’re struggling to enjoy it. There might be some information or perspective that you’re missing. For all you know, those numbers or reports might actually be more useful than you imagined.

Otherwise, if you really don’t enjoy the job itself, then you might need to step away. Giving up a job is never easy, and it’s not always the ultimate solution. However, why keep working at something that you aren’t happy with? If it only causes you to feel stressed and unhappy, then perhaps it’s time to try other careers. Maybe there is one just for you, waiting out there for you to reach out.

In summary

Without you realizing it, you might have several signs of burnout that are harming your life. Burnout at work can cause you to feel tired, unhappy, and unimportant. Even if you love your job, being exhausted mentally and emotionally can hurt you more than you think. By noticing key signs of burnout, from low self-confidence to lack of energy, you can start to fight back and keep yourself happy and healthy. The most important thing to remember is that burnout is a real problem, and if you have it, don’t be afraid to admit it. It’s always the first step to helping yourself get better and live a happier life.

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