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Burnout at Work: Signs, Symptoms and Coping Strategies

Updated on September 04, 2016
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I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of burnout on the job are essential for modern-day workers. Burnout can have serious consequences for an employee's health, workplace culture and a company's reputation.

Is your energy and enthusiasm at work fading?

Are you feeling burned out at work? You are not alone. Burnout is a common complaint in today's world of working 24/7.
Are you feeling burned out at work? You are not alone. Burnout is a common complaint in today's world of working 24/7.

Do any of these descriptions sound familiar to you?

  • Making simple decisions at work has become more and more difficult.
  • Procrastination seems to be weighing you down. You keep missing important deadlines.
  • You find your mind wandering a lot. Concentrating on one thing at a times seems to be a challenge.
  • You’re having trouble remembering things.
  • You feel like you just aren’t as sharp as you were before.
  • You haven’t been spending as much time on your favorite hobbies or recreational activities as you once did.
  • You don’t really feel like you have much of a social life anymore because you are either always working or you just don’t have the energy to go out with friends and family.
  • People have made comments that suggest they are concerned about your health.
  • You dread going into work each day.
  • Setting goals and establishing priorities at work is becoming harder and harder.

If you're noticing changes in your ability to perform your job or your personal relationships have been suffering because you are stressed out at work, then you may be experiencing on the job burnout.

Your health could be at risk. Your job security could be on the line. Other people's safety and well-being could be at risk if you a experiencing the effects of job burnout.

Burnout can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional well-being.
Burnout can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional well-being.

What are the most common physical symptoms of burnout at work?

  • Lowered immune response
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite (either an increase or decrease)
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Aches and pains that have no known cause

What are some of the most common emotional symptoms of job burnout?

  • Apathy
  • Loss of pride and/or enjoyment in work
  • Disengagement
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Cynicism

If you are experiencing burnout at work, you may feel a few, many, or all of these physical and emotional symptoms on a persistent basis. Burnout is more that just having a bad day, and its harmful effects can linger long after you have left the office and gone home for the night.

Absenteeism is a strong sign that employees are feeling burned out.
Absenteeism is a strong sign that employees are feeling burned out.
It may take awhile, but taking care of yourself when you're feeling burned out can help you re-ignite your passion and enthusiasm for your job again. Or it may spur you to switch gears and change careers to do what you love.
It may take awhile, but taking care of yourself when you're feeling burned out can help you re-ignite your passion and enthusiasm for your job again. Or it may spur you to switch gears and change careers to do what you love.

Have you ever suffered from burnout at work?

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Recovering from burnout at work may take time. The stress and strain that lead to your feelings of exhaustion and fatigue didn't happen overnight. Here are a few ways to cope with job burnout:

  • Take a vacation. If you are like many modern-day employees, you are probably not using up all of your vacation days. Recent studies have shown that each year, workers in North America forfeiting hours of paid-vacation that they're entitled to.
  • Ask for an extended leave of absence, or go on a sabbatical.
  • Ask to be moved to a new department or explore other job openings within your company.
  • Quit your job: find another job somewhere else, explore a new career, go back to school, retire early, or start your own company.Take advantage of any employee assistance programs your company offers. See if there are any extended benefits available to you that can help you cope with the physical and emotional effects of burning out on the job. Massage, acupuncture, talk therapy, and nutrition advice may be useful in helping you recover from job burnout.
  • Talk to your doctor about your feelings of burnout and find out what health options, treatments, and/or prescriptions may be able to help you cope with burnout at work.
  • Re-build your life outside of work again. Get in touch with people you haven't seen because you've been too busy.
  • Talk to an employment counsellor. Perhaps one of the reasons you are experiencing burnout right now is because you
  • Attend a skills-building workshop in your free time that will help you become more assertive or better organized. Part of successful dealing with burnout involves stemming the overwhelming tide of work that seems to be flowing across your desk. Learning how to say 'no' is a good start. Learning how to effectively communicate your needs to your boss or your co-workers is another way to make sure they don't keep piling work on your desk while simultaneously removing the tools and supports you need to do the work.

Knowing the warning signs of that you are close to burning out at work can help you take a pro-active approach to finding a better work-life balance so that you can be as happy and healthy as possible. If improving your health and and reducing stress at work is important to you, you may want to read:

The sooner you recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout at work, the sooner you can start taking steps to reduce the negative effects of burnout on your life, your health, and your relationships.

Images source: Pixabay.com

© 2014 Sally Hayes

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  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    very interesting

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