Everyone talks about it, but not everyone understands what it is…
Coronary disease, hypertension, gastrointestinal problems (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome) – these are just a few of the serious conditions individuals can experience as a result of burnout*. Not to mention depression, anxiety, increased alcohol/drug consumption (or worse still, dependence), a sense of futility and damage to their career prospects.
Burnout can creep up on you – people are often in the grip of a full-blown episode before they realize anything is wrong. But the good news is that the earlier you deal with burnout, the easier it is to treat.
Discover some of the most common signs to see if you’re headed for employee burnout:
Burnout is a state of chronic stress and even anger and lashing out. Anger is the flip side of depression when it comes to burnout. In the beginning you may get into arguments with colleagues. As it progresses this can manifest into arguments with clients, irrational anger with team members or for the smallest frustrations, either at work or when you get home.
In extreme cases, you may suffer from violent thoughts in the workplace or at home. If this happens, you should seek professional help immediately.
When you’re burnt out, anxiety can begin to take over your life, becoming more important than actually doing the job. Your work, as well as your personal life, may suffer. Panic attacks, catastrophizing, cold sweats, paranoia, avoidance, to name just a few. Overwhelm or the feeling that you really can’t cope or deal with certain things any longer. If you’ve felt anxious or overwhelmed by work in the last few months, you could well be heading for employee burnout.
3. Fatigue and Insomnia
What keeps you up at night? Fatigue and insomnia go hand in hand, with one feeding on the other. If you have trouble falling asleep or if you wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep, it will affect your energy levels the next day and so the cycle continues. In the later stages of burnout, you may even feel exhausted and drained even if you’re getting enough sleep.
4. Lack of Motivation & Productivity
Most people wake up with a feeling of purpose and an eagerness to get to work and start their day, if they like their job! If you dread going into work each morning and are even making excuses to take time off when you don’t need to, you may be starting to burn out. If you can’t muster the enthusiasm to go into work or you’re struggling to get out of bed, no matter how challenging or interesting your current project or role, it may be time to take a look at your situation.
5. Loss of Enjoyment
Burnout takes away any happiness or joy you have in doing work you otherwise enjoy. Any sense of personal pride in your work can disappear, leaving behind a feeling that nothing matters (either at work or home).
Everyone craves challenges in their job once in a while. But if you’re finding it difficult to concentrate or are easily distracted, if you’re doing the same thing over and over again with no valuable outcome. Or you feel a sense of futility and complete lack of enjoyment in anything you do, it’s a sure sign of burnout or maybe depression, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about this.
6. Mistreating Your Mental Wellbeing
We’ll happily upgrade our technology but we never upgrade ourselves. Why is that? You are not your negative thoughts, but if you never upgrade your inner self, how do you expect to eliminate burnout?
Maintaining stress levels is an ongoing commitment, processing through difficult emotions and working toward self-awareness and self-improvement. And all of these tools will help prevent more serious issues down the line. Know thyself and that what we think we become. How much longer are you going to let burnout out destroy your mental wellbeing?
7. Neglecting Your Physical Health
Burnout can cause multiple physical symptoms, beginning with a simple lack of appetite. You may lose interest in even your favorite foods, not caring what’s for dinner because you’re just not hungry.
Maybe your physical health has taken a back seat and you’ve missed dental appointments or gone into work when you’ve been ill when really you should be in bed. And with your immune system compromised due to a lack of healthy food and exercise, you may also suffer from multiple symptoms such as colds or flu.
8. Obsessing Over Work During Your Free Time
How many times do you check your emails in the evenings or over the weekend? Be honest. We live in a world where there’s an increasing expectation (whether internally or from our bosses) that we should be constantly online and available. Our holiday last month is a prime example of this – I talk about the fall out of my husband’s contractor burnout in this post.
9. Relationship Problems
Are you taking your work home with you, and I don’t just mean your physical workload? Has it caused marital and/or family conflict? Our personal and work lives are intertwining and overlapping more than ever. Recognising that your emotional health significantly impacts your career, as well as your physical health, relationships, and productivity is crucially important.
10. Social Isolation
Maybe it starts off that you just don’t want fancy going out to lunch with your work colleagues when invited. Next thing, you don’t feel like going out after work with the gang. You shut the door to your office (if you have one), wear your headphones or bury yourself in paperwork and pretend you’re too busy to be disturbed, so that nobody talks to you.
In the worst cases, you can become angry at people for simply talking to you or you may adjust your schedule to avoid human interaction. Before you know it, you’ve alienated yourself….
Some Suggestions For Overcoming Or Avoiding Employee Burnout
We are our own most powerful resource and your own self-development is the best investment you will ever make. Whilst the process is rarely quick or easy, the pay-off down the line is immeasurable.
You could consider a different path… Because when you’re doing what you love, why would you burn out? But if you can’t cut your hours or find another vocation just yet, you can learn to look after your mind.
If you recognise any of these behaviours, consider it an early warning system. Because the good news is, there are so many things you can do to help yourself. But as Wim Hof observes, we have been schooled in ”rocket science yes, history, mathematics, but to be happy? We don’t know… Today we are poor, we are poor within ourselves. Because we don’t know the core values of our life itself”.
The more we can understand about ourselves, especially the messy, uncomfortable parts that we hide from, the more freedom we will find to live an authentic, fulfilling, and purposeful life.
“The goal is to become healthy, strong and happy. The rest is bullshit”. [Wim Hof]
* Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the medical profession.