In her “Psychology Today” article entitled Burnout at Work Is Affecting 52% of Americans, Jennifer Guttman Psy.D. shares the following:
“One of the least talked about issues in the workplace during this extended and post-pandemic recovery period is the significant rise of burnout, which is fueling increases in anxiety and depression among workers of all ages.”
Many challenges can arise with work including job loss, unhappiness with our specific career choice and health difficulties, to name a few. But one of the most insidious obstacles faced in a career must be work burnout. You can feel like you have nothing left to give, and it grows increasingly difficult to function each day.
The quality of your work starts to suffer, and you begin to worry about how much more you can take. So, what is career burnout? And what can you do when you’re feeling burned out in your career?
What is Occupational Burnout?
Many assume that career burnout is caused by overwork. There’s no denying that scenario, so common in Western cultures, certainly plays a significant factor. So do the many life factors neglected along the way when you work too much. Family, personal health and much more are harmed in the process.
However, the root of burnout generally is resentment. There is something out of sync in your career, and it starts to regularly upset you. You may resent how much your work takes you away from family and friends. Or, how often you must forgo personal wellness due to work, for instance.
Many other factors can lead to resentment or disillusionment in your career, including some of the following:
- Not buying into your company’s core values or mission
- Not getting the recognition at work you feel you deserve
- Feeling inadequate, underprepared, or undertrained at work
- Job search burnout/overwhelm
- Work from home burnout
- Feeling disrespected or bullied at work
- Regularly being pressured to work more hours than you think is healthy for you
- Having to give up more than you think you gain from work
- Not receiving adequate financial compensation for your efforts
- Being in a bad fit because your unique gifts don’t match what you do
- A physical or mental health condition is interfering with your work
- Feeling stuck (“this is what I have to do for the rest of my life”)
- Feeling your personal identity has been overtaken by your work
- The non-work aspects of your life are making your work more stressful instead of helping it to thrive
- Many other possibilities
Work is no doubt important to our wellbeing and livelihood. At the same time, we all are far more than our professional lives. As you look down that list, a recurring theme is an inner conflict. Often, something is neglected that is a more foundational need than work, leading to burnout.
If you’re feeling burnt out at work, you likely could identify with several of the burnout factors listed above. You also may have a few more you could add to the list.
The Symptoms of Workplace Burnout
Learning to identify typical job burnout symptoms is your first step to making meaningful change. The earlier you can discover your specific work burnout symptoms, the sooner you’ll be able to make some healthy changes. Here are some common signs of burnout at work:
- High-stress levels
- Work exhaustion
- Unhealthy coping strategies (overconsumption of food or alcohol/drug misuse)
- Regular sadness, irritability and/or anger
- Declining health (such as weight gain, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease).
- Increasing anxiety or depression
These career burnout signs can be tricky. Yes, they’re often signs of burnout at work. However, they also tend to add to your burnout since they make it more challenging to function at your highest level while at work. Here are some additional tips for how to deal with burnout at work.
Find Out Why You’re Burned Out
Until you discover what specifically leads to your job burnout, it will be difficult to do much to improve it. It’s not always easy to tell what’s causing your burnout. A skilled therapist can often help you work through this process.
This one is a bit generic because everyone’s solution will differ, just like their root cause. But based on what you identify as your primary job burnout causes, you can develop a specific action plan.
Your remedy could involve asking for more work-from-home hours or in-person work. It may also require scaling back on the amount of work you do or addressing workplace toxicity.
Consider Changing What You Do
It may be time for a career change so you can experience less burnout because you need a better fit based on your interests and skills. This is an excellent example of a time when your burnout may not be primarily due to overwork but instead a poor career fit.
Maybe you can’t leave your career now. In that case, finding an interesting hobby or side work you can do in your leisure may give you renewed energy. You’ll finally be engaged in something you’re more passionate about. That renewed energy can also give you increased vigour in your career until you transition to something else.
Especially if you’re working from home, it’s more critical to have set work hours and stick to them. This means refraining from emailing and other correspondence after work hours or doing additional work to “catch up.”
Working from home is unique in that it is often based more on getting your work done than how long it takes you to complete specific tasks. If you’re not careful, you can waste a lot of time after hours trying to work when you’re no longer feeling productive. As a result, you don’t get the necessary break you need from your work to give your best tomorrow. It can become a vicious, self-defeating cycle.
Some boundaries are ones you need to make with yourself. Other times, you may have to say “no” to work requests that are too harmful to your personal wellness. This may cause difficulties in your work. In those cases, you may be able to reach a compromise. However, if you can’t and the additional work requests are detrimental to your wellbeing, it will likely be time for a job change.
Are You Going Through Work Burnout? Counselling Can Help
As already shared, burnout from work is surprisingly common, whether you’re a burned-out employee or a business owner. Still, those who experience it often feel like they don’t have anyone they feel comfortable talking with, let alone someone to help them solve it.
Therapy can be a valuable step in the burnout recovery process. You gain greater insight into the signs of job burnout and what specifically caused your work burnout. You also discover ways to overcome and heal from your burnout.