At 24 years old, I sat in an employee bathroom and cried. I felt useless at my job, anxious, tired and overwhelmed. I was completely burnt out, even though my career had just begun.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for people to experience work burnout, which can happen at any age. The causes are varied, but common ones include physical and mental exhaustion, a lack of control over one’s job and time, and having too much responsibility.
Since my experience with burning out, I’ve switched careers and become passionate about empowering my new team to care for themselves. I also wanted to share these learnings with you on recognising the signs of burnout and how to stop it earlier.
Burnout is a state of physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion that results from long-term stress. It can be caused by a range of factors, including overexerting oneself in order to meet expectations, one’s own high standards, or an unrealistic deadline. With the rise in remote work, it’s become harder than ever to create boundaries between work and home.
Burnout is often characterized by a range of symptoms such as irritability, low energy levels, fatigue, reduced concentration span, cynicism, physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches, loss of interest versus pleasure in work or hobbies, and feelings of guilt or inadequacy surrounding the symptoms that are experienced.
The signs of burnout
Here are a few signs that you may be experiencing work-related burnout:
- Feeling constantly stressed
- Experiencing elevated levels of anxiety
- Focusing on the negative about your job
- Having overwhelming fatigue
- Experiencing a lack of motivation, enthusiasm, and focus
- Chronically complaining about work
- Feeling a loss of control
- Feeling disconnected from your work
Look after yourself
There are many different ways you can combat the symptoms of burnout if it’s something you’re experiencing. One thing that can be helpful is taking care of your physical health by eating nutritious food and getting enough sleep.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to take some time to do something for yourself so you can relax and destress. You might also consider talking with someone who understands what you’re going through.
Where possible, try not to take responsibility for tasks that aren’t a part of your job description or don’t need to be completed. And finally, make sure you turn off your work cell phone and computer during your free time and try not to think about work.
You’re not alone
Many people experience burnout, but it can be prevented or minimized by taking the time to take care of yourself and address any underlying issues that can contribute to stress before it becomes a serious health concern.
If you start to experience the symptoms of burnout, it may indicate that you need to take some time off work to recover or explore ways you can address the situation.
Returning too quickly may result in more problems than if you stay out of the office and rest. To ensure you don’t become burned out again, take time with your family or friends. You can also volunteer or do some form of exercise with them before going back into the office.
When you return back to the office after this break, try taking on fewer responsibilities until you feel like yourself again! Alternatively, if these signs persist without relief even when working fewer hours than usual, that could indicate that it may be time for a career change!