We’ve all heard the phrase “you can’t burn the candle at both ends” to symbolize what happens if we overextend ourselves by working too much without rest. But in an increasingly stressful world where Americans are working more than ever, it seems that lots of candles are already totally burnt out.
This unique type of stress has a name: burnout, or occupational burnout. It is an all-encompassing state of physical and emotional exhaustion induced by chronic workplace stress. Sound familiar? You bet. Employee stress has been increasing for over a decade and remained at a record high in 2022, according to a survey conducted by Gallup.
So, we’re all stressed. What now?
Identifying burnout is the first step in addressing it. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is categorized by, “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
What Causes Burnout
Several factors contribute to these feelings, often stemming from a combination of professional and personal circumstances. Professionally, high work demands, lack of control, insufficient support and unclear expectations can create a perfect storm for burnout to rear its head. Individual traits like perfectionism and an inability to say ‘no’ can also increase the likelihood of burnout occurring.
Dealing With Burnout
Studies have shown that employees who experience workplace burnout have a 180% greater risk of developing depressive disorders, making it even more important to know how to decrease its effects.
When it comes to beating burnout at work, prioritizing self-care is a must to replenish physical and emotional energy. Establish a routine that includes plenty of sleep, nutritious meals and regular exercise. Taking breaks throughout the day can also prevent burnout by allowing moments of relaxation to create space between stressful tasks.
Learning to set clear boundaries between work and personal life can help, too. Establishing limits on the amount of time and energy dedicated to work-related tasks prevents work from pooling into other areas of your life and creating a false sense of urgency.
Of course, reaching out for support when you need it is never a bad idea. Discussing your feelings with friends, family or a mental health professional can provide valuable insights and coping strategies to help you manage and overcome the feelings of burnout.
How to Prevent Burnout
Experiencing burnout once is more than enough. To avoid feeling its effects again, there are a few things you can do. First, regularly assess your stress levels and overall well-being. Incorporating self-reflection into your routine, like performing daily check-ins on how you feel, can identify potential stressors before they escalate. Overcommitting to tasks, assignments and projects can lead to overwhelming stress, so be selective about the tasks and responsibilities you take on by developing the ability to say ‘no’ when necessary.
Burnout is a real and prevalent challenge in our fast-paced world. Recognizing its signs, addressing its root causes and adopting a proactive approach to well-being can help in navigating and preventing burnout once and for all.
Have you ever experienced burnout? How did you resolve it? Tell us in the comments.