Exhaustion, irritability, insomnia, inability to keep your mind on one task for a long time – almost each of us faced something from this list. But if you realize that several of these symptoms have been evident for a long time and, no matter how hard you try, you do not feel rested, these may be signs of a more serious problem – professional burnout.
What is Burnout?
In 2019, the World Health Organization included professional burnout syndrome in the International Classification of Diseases. It considers burnout not a medical condition but an emotional state. The development of syndrome is the result of chronic stress at work.
At the same time, professional burnout can undermine health and lead to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular and muscle diseases, provoke problems with the digestive tract, headaches, insomnia, depression, and other clinical conditions. So “burn at work” is no longer a poetic metaphor to describe fruitful and inspired work, but a severe problem worth additional observations and treatment.
From Where It All Starts?
At first glance, it seems that the term “burnout” explains itself, but it’s not that simple. Despite the popularity of tips on how not to “burn at work,” this phenomenon is still not considered as an independent diagnosis, and many doctors consider it a form of depression. Burnout is described as a state of severe emotional exhaustion that can be accompanied by depersonalization.
For the first time, the word “burnout” was used in the seventies to describe the total weakness on which nurses and doctors complained. Now, “burnout” is discussed more and more often, and not only by those who work with people – like doctors or social workers – but also, for example, people in business and representatives of creative professions.
Professional burnout happens from intense, stressful, and unstructured work, and this is normal. When a person experiences more stress than satisfaction from activity, the balance of efficiency is broken.
Emotional burnout can occur when a person’s perceptions of his or her activities do not coincide with the conditions in which he or she stays. Monotonous, tiresome tasks, work with the heavy emotional loading, at last, work with difficult partners or clients – all this can result in burnout
The causes of burnout can be varied. The experts highlight the unclear expectations from work, extreme and chaotic schedule, lack of social support and toxic atmosphere within the company, lack of control over own professional life – in general, the standard set of a large corporation employee.
It is essential to understand that even the presence of all these prerequisites does not necessarily lead to professional burnout syndrome development. Those are only the stress factors. And burnout is the result of an unsuccessful attempt to cope with these factors.
How to Know that I Have Burnout?
Check yourself and try to identify whether you have some or all of these burnout signs. Each “Yes” is a reason to take a pause and visit a therapist.
You feel tired all the time
Constant apathy, emotional, and physical exhaustion directly indicate that the body has no strength at all. Chronic stress can suck the energy out of us to keep the body mobilized without reasons. If, after a night of healthy sleeping, a great weekend in the country, or even a vacation, you feel tired, it is a direct sign of burnout and many other even more dangerous conditions.
You can’t concentrate on the tasks
You can assess the level of your concentration subjectively: remember your performance and how you solved different assignments six months ago. Then, compare to your current state and answer how you cope with the same tasks now.
Another way to test the ability to focus attention is to use the Pomodoro method that requires concentration. Set the alarm clock for 25 minutes and try to immerse yourself in the task. If you can’t focus even for such a short time, it can be a sign of burnout beginning.
You started to work worse
One of the main differences between stress and burnout lies in this symptom. In the first case, you are likely to work at the limit of your capabilities, and some mistakes and failures can be the result of the harsh conditions – burning deadline, task complexity. In the case of burnout, you start to work worse in comparison with the results you provided before. Your ideas are less supported; the projects are revised more often – these signs can be considered a performance decline.
At the same time, you are forever busy
It is known that constant overtime reduces productivity and can trigger depression. If you feel that the work took all your time, you can’t ignore your smartphone even after 10 pm, you take a laptop each time you have the weekends, and during a romantic dinner you send messages to your boss, you should slow down and set at least minimal boundaries. Such dedication is not beneficial, it will harm your health, and that’s it.
You have stopped taking care of yourself
Perhaps, it is the most disturbing and important symptom of professional burnout. During stressful situations, it is worth supporting the body, taking care of its physical and mental condition. But when you are burned out, you don’t have enough energy for it. Instead, a person suffering from burnout syndrome chooses the most destructive strategy – ignores chronic fatigue and continues to work beyond the norm, does not sleep and rest well, eat fast food, and ignore shower.
What to Do?
The first thing you need to do is to admit that you are exhausted. It is happening to you right now, and there’s something to be done about that problem. All your thoughts and actions are affected by stress and weakness. In the early stages, you can help yourself on your own. Find the best free virus protection not to be stressed because of privacy issues at work, to delegate your duties to employees, to say “no” more often, and to think about how you care about yourself.
To cope with burnout, try to take more time for yourself. Set up a sleep regime, regularly engage in physical activities (for example, walk), spend time with your friends, find yourself a calming and pleasant hobby, try yoga or meditation – these practices are useful in combating stress. And if you realize you’re not doing it alone, ask a therapist for help. The specialist will help to understand how to optimize your life and reduce the level of stress you experience daily.