It’s Just Stress, Right?

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Maybe Not! You Could be Suffering from a Case of Job Burnout.

Is your constant stress leaving you feeling disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out? If so, you may be suffering from job burnout. Job burnout is a unique type of stress — described as a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work or purpose.

It leaves you feeling powerless, hopeless, fatigued, drained and frustrated. If you think,12 you might be experiencing job burnout; it is important to recognize its early signs and act before the problem becomes serious and affects your health.

You may be at risk of job burnout if:

  • Every day is a bad day.
  • Caring about your work seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

The negative effects of job burnout spill over into every area of life – including your home and social life. Burnout also can cause long-term changes to your body that make you more susceptible to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, is important to deal with burnout before it gets to that point.

What causes burnout?

There are many causes of job burnout. In many cases, burnout stems from your job. But anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout – from the hardworking office worker who hasn’t had a vacation or a raise in two years to the frazzled stay-at-home mom struggling with the heavy responsibility of taking care of three kids, the housework and her aging mother.

Burnout is not solely caused by stressful work or too many responsibilities, other important factors contribute to burnout, including your lifestyle and certain personality traits. What you do in your downtime and your perception of the world around you can play just as big of a role in causing burnout, as work or home demands. It is important to remember that burnout does not happen overnight, it is a gradual process. 

Signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Feeling tired and drained majority of the time.
  • Lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot.
  • Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches.
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits.
  • Sense of failure and self-doubt.
  • Feeling helpless, trapped and defeated.
  • Detachment - feeling alone in the world.
  • Loss of motivation.
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

How can I prevent job burnout?

  • Start the day with a relaxing ritual. Rather than jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up, and starting your normal routine, try spending at least 15 minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches or reading something that inspires you.
  • Start eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity and get plenty of rest, you have more energy to deal with life’s hassles and demands.
  • Set boundaries. Learn how to say “no.” Don’t overextend yourself. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.
  • Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone and stop checking email for at least one hour a day.
  • Bring out your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun new project, or restart a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.
  • Learn how to manage stress. When you’re on the road to burnout, you may feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think.

If you think you are at risk of experiencing burnout, you can speak to your primary care physician who can connect you with a professional counselor. A professional counselor is an excellent resource to help you prevent or treat burnout. Counseling will identify the causes of your burnout and walk you through restoring your life. A counselor will help you with stress, or even help you find a new career.