What is work burnout?
Work burnout is one of three major sources of stress among U.S. adults (along with money and family responsibilities) according to the American Psychological Association. “Burnout is a state of work-related depletion that overloads your individual and systemic resources leading to the classical combination of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization—when your thoughts and feelings seem unreal or you feel disconnected from your sense of identity—and reduced personal accomplishment,” says Grant Brenner, MD, a Manhattan-based psychiatrist. “While it’s not a clinical condition by definition, it is similar in ways to some clinical conditions and may overlap with stress-related conditions.” Burnout can happen gradually and quietly, hitting unexpectedly and suddenly after sneaking up for a long time. “We’re often in some degree of denial regarding burnout, ignoring the problem in ourselves, others and in the workplace for many reasons,” says Dr. Brenner. “We may be in denial because of attitudes we have about being strong and weak, trying to stay ‘strong’ at the expense of acknowledging basic needs, adding to the risk of burnout by preventing self-care efforts from kicking in or because we feel helpless to make the changes we know we need.” Whatever the cause, burnout can seriously prevent you from enjoying life to the fullest and forging the meaningful relationships that will matter even more in the long run than your day-to-day profession. Here are some expert-approved signs that you may be headed straight for a work burnout and how you can prevent the vicious cycle from happening in the first place.
You’re completely exhausted
If feeling tired all the time has become the norm for you—no matter how many hours of sleep you’re clocking at night—your work life may be too demanding. “The very first sign we see in people experiencing a work burnout is an inability to relax while experiencing a constant state of exhaustion,” says John Mayer, PhD, clinical psychologist and author. “This often causes insomnia, when people are tossing and turning in bed at night because their mind won’t shut off and can even lead to physical illness due to your immune system being run down.” When you’re so run down, you’re more susceptible to sickness and this can be caused by lack of sleep, poor diet, and stress. Surprisingly one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your job is to take time to rest, reset and gain perspective so that you can come back to work with a positive attitude, mental clarity and enough physical energy and stamina.