Burnout: How to Recognize if You're There - Part 1 of 4

mental health personal growth professional development Sep 10, 2014

“I hate my job because it’s consuming me; I miss my life and I can’t remember what it’s like to feel good.  I wish I could just escape to a deserted island in the middle of nowhere!”  Can you relate?

In today’s faced paced, hyper-competitive and tough economic times, a growing number of men and women are experiencing the painful effects of burnout.  According to a CareerBuilding.com report, 77 percent of employees claim they feel burnout related to their jobs.  In another national poll, over half of the respondents reported that they were less productive at work because of job stress.

Burnout has been defined as: “A state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to a demanding work situation.  Burnout is the cumulative result of stress.”  The stress is usually caused by working long hours, decreased job security, unexpected and uncontrollable change, unfulfilled expectations, increased workload, unclear job expectations, interpersonal conflict, misaligned values with the organization and little to no time dedicated to relaxation and fun.

In his book, Crazy Busy, author Edward Hallowell writes, “You can be so busy that you don’t even take the time to decide what actually does matter the most to you, let alone make the time to do it.” Furthermore, many people “get lost in work” while their health, relationships, and outside interests suffer.   If that describes your life right now, it’s important that you begin to address the issues.

The impact of burnout isn’t limited to personal wellbeing or career dissatisfaction, either.  According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “the health expenditures of workers who report high levels of stress at work are 50 percent higher than those who do not report high levels of stress at work.” So your family’s budget is adversely affected as well.  Wouldn’t it be great to save all that money you spend on doctor visits, prescriptions and over-the-counter headache remedies and use it toward something more fun or rewarding?

The average US worker has less time off for vacation than workers in any other modern, developed society and 20 percent stay connected to their offices while on vacation.  That means even when they take vacations they can’t completely relax and recuperate.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Here are some of the telltale signs that you might be experiencing burnout: Exhaustion, irritability, decreased motivation, lack of productivity and efficiency, loss of sense of humor, inflexibility, worry, taking work home, social withdrawal, increased conflict with loved ones, decreased satisfaction with work and life, questioning your career, dreading going to work, apathy toward work, cynicism, wasting time at the office, a loss of enthusiasm, decreased hope of positive change, missed deadlines, decreased punctuality, increased absenteeism, more problem-focused than solution-focused, self-medicating (increased reliance on alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling), sleep and appetite changes, muscle pain in neck and back, stomach discomfort, high blood pressure, frequent headaches and feeling overwhelmed.

If you recognized yourself in some of the things listed, don’t give up yet.  In my upcoming blogs I will be addressing the strategies for dealing with burnout. Be sure to join me for some ways to make your life less stressful.

Next time, Strategy #1: Refocus.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd


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