Often, people who are simply tired of work can hear how they are burnt out and not only do not enjoy work but also feel discomfort from every day spent in the office. It’s not burnout; it’s just stress.
But what exactly is burnout, and what can you do about it? Let’s figure it out. In this case, we are talking about burnout at work and not about emotional burnout in general, which we have already discussed earlier.
Symptoms of burnout at work
If at least some of them match your situation, you should likely seek help from a specialist or at least change your occupation.
1. Forced to work
One of the main symptoms of burnout at work is trying to force yourself to do something. And no, it’s not laziness when you don’t feel like it, because there are more important things to do, like a shooter match with friends. You have to overcome yourself every time to do something simple as if you are required to lift a huge heavy stone and not shift a couple of sheets.
2. Imaginary zeal
A burnt-out person seems to be more diligent because he painstakingly understands even the most insignificant moments. This is a sign of mental overload when simple tasks that were previously solved in a couple of minutes require ten times more time and effort.
3. Neglect of personal needs
Since a person burnt out at work suffers from imaginary zeal and constant coercion, he forgets about his personal needs since his mind is completely occupied with solving work issues. He has no time for building relationships, hobbies, and even vacations because his brain is so tired that he manages to adapt to constant pressure and concentrate purely on one specific area.
4. Revision of values for the sake of work and spontaneity of decisions
As we said above, a tired brain cannot cope with various challenges and focuses on one thing. In the case of burnout at work, something becomes making money or building a career to get more benefits as quickly as possible and save yourself from suffering.
All other values like hobbies, aspirations and the like do not even fade into the background. Later, with the aggravation of the condition, the burnt-out person wants to either change jobs or completely stop working, at least in his field. The consequences of such decisions do not lend themselves to adequate analysis due to the desire to alleviate the psychological state here and now.
5. Denial of existing problems
Often, burnt-out people deny they have psychological problems because the brain, tired of constant overstrain, cannot adequately analyze the situation. A person on his own cannot determine that he has burned out, considering it is only temporary stress from work that has piled on.
6. Behavioral changes
Everyone has probably heard the term “professional deformation,” often used in a negative context. Burnt-out people sometimes have occupational deformation that negatively affects their quality of life and prevents them from building their personal lives outside of work processes. Gradually, there is an increasing alienation from reality due to the same psychological fatigue, and the person changes, becoming more apathetic and nervous. Moreover, periods of apathy and aggression alternate depending on the triggers.
In addition to all of the above to burnout at work, other symptoms are added that are characteristic of emotional burnout in a general sense, namely depression, inner emptiness, depersonalization and other negative aspects. A person gradually loses the ability to enjoy even bright, positive events and eventually falls into a vicious circle of negative emotions, which causes self-sustaining constant stress.
Among the earliest signs of work burnout, one can distinguish increasing distance from work, which manifests in avoidance of work, irritability, procrastination, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, and desire to come to work later and leave earlier. This is joined by reduced professional efficiency, unwillingness to communicate with the team, lack of interest in further and advanced training, and loss or detachment at meetings.
Stages of work burnout
A lot has been said about how burnout manifests itself, but they rarely talk about the stages, and this is also important for understanding the essence of the problem. It was based on a scheme of five stages of professional burnout proposed by researchers from Winona State University.
1. Honeymoon phase
You just got a job and are delighted with what you are doing, or you go to a company in a good mood, making plans for the future. You feel energized and don’t mind skipping lunch or being late for a couple of hours, especially when communicating with colleagues.
Usually, the honeymoon ends quickly enough, and the positive attitude is gradually destroyed by the breaking of patterns and the destruction of fantasies.
2. The onset of stress phase
After a certain amount of time has passed, the “honeymoon phase” will end, and you will start to experience stress. There won’t be stressful moments every second of the day, but there will be plenty of opportunities for them throughout the day. At the beginning of this stage, it is important to be aware of any physical or mental signs. You may find it harder to concentrate on what you’re doing and become less productive. Fatigue can begin to set in on the body, making it more difficult to sleep and less enjoyable to participate in activities outside of work.
3. Chronic stress
A condition that occurs shortly before burnout, when stress becomes so intense that anxiety haunts you most days. You try to evade duties when someone turns to you with requests and demands. You can feel exhaustion, apathy, depression, and doubts about the future. At this point, all the illusions built during the honeymoon and maintained during the balancing stage usually collapse. Most co-workers start to get annoyed.
There may be a further aggravation of the situation, extending into off-hours, when you spend your weekends in anxiety and worries that work does not allow you to relax, which increases fatigue.
4. Burnout phase
The main phase is when you feel psychological and physical decline. You can notice how you not only put off work for later and miss deadlines but also try to appear in front of your colleagues and superiors as rarely as possible. Thoughts constantly arise about how to quit, and even nowhere, the main thing is to get rid of this burden quickly. Weekdays become torture, and weekends do not bring joy and relaxation, as you understand that another joyless work week will follow.
5. Habitual burnout phase
Burnout can become a part of your regular life if it is not treated, and it can eventually lead to anxiety and despair if left untreated. You might also experience persistent mental and physical exhaustion, making it impossible for you to continue working. If you continue in this manner, your employment circumstances could become more precarious.
How to deal with burnout at work
To avoid repeating ourselves, let’s briefly say that it is important to do something at least and not to remain in the same position, considering the acceptance stage as easing the situation.
First, learn your boundaries and make changes. Often burnout is caused by people trying to please others. Remember to develop interests outside of work so that your brain doesn’t start to think that your sessions in the office 5/2 for 8 hours a day are the only thing worth existing for.
Also, do not forget about building relationships with colleagues. Often, burnout occurs as a result of alienation from the team. Developing relationships at work gives a sense of belonging and understanding about mutual assistance, which reduces the emotional burden.
In addition, adhere to the principle of “workplace at work.” Do not take labour moments out of your office; let work duties remain only on your desk.
And, of course, share your thoughts with family, friends, and colleagues. Burnout can often be avoided with the help of outside support, help in something, and advice that will help you see the bright side.