Burnout From Work: Is It Real?
You're feeling exhausted and find it difficult to push as hard as you did in the past. In fact, you used to be on fire everyday, running and pushing harder than anyone you know. Now, you just can't muster the enthusiasm or energy to reach that level.
You still want to chase the dream, but you can't seem to find it within you.
I'm physically and mentally drained. I just have to get out of coaching for a while. It's as simple as that.
Former NFL Coach
Signs of Burnout from Work
There are times in your day where you may say "Wow, I'm just burnt out on this work." It's in those moments where you're likely just tired and not really dealing with clinically diagnosed burnout.
3 Critical Signs of Burnout
Workplace burnout comes from chronic job stresses. The keyword there is "chronice." This isn't something that happens after a couple of tough weeks or even months.
Because it doesn't set on quickly or over a short period of time, it can easily creep into your life without you noticing it. This is why many will mistake it for clinical depression or simply just being exhausted. Each of these is different and requires a different remedy to address it.
Workplace burnout doesn't come on quickly. Because of this, you may not know you're dealing with burnout and you may mistake it for depression or exhaustion.
The 3 Dimensions of Burnout from Work
Feeling exhausted is usually one of the first signs someone experiences. You'll find yourself with a full plate of work and a feeling that you just can't face the work any longer. You can't move forward and you just want to stop. This isn't laziness or apathy, it's physical exhaust which more like what you'd experience if you tried running a marathon without training. Your inability to finish wouldn't be because you're lazy.
This is usually when you start to wonder if you're maybe dealing with exhaustion. But burnout at work isn't just about exhaustion.
When you notice you're beginning you think negatively about yourself, it's a good sign you're dealing with real burnout from working too much. You begin to doubt your aptitude even though you've likely performed your work well for a very long time. Some people have referred to is as "The erosion of my soul." It's that deep-seated.
Cynicism is at the Heart of Burnout
When your exhaustion and negative self-evaluation is combined with cynicism, you're exhibiting the true burnout at work symptoms.
You've become bitter about the work, the organization, and the people around you. You've gone from wanting to do your very best to just wanting to get by with the least effort required.
Dr. Christina Maslach, Professor of Psychology and researcher at the University of California Berkeley is a recognized expert on the topic of Workplace Burnout. Her book, The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It is a great tool for addressing the causes of burnout.
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Workplace Burnout Topics Covered
It's worth listening to this episode to get a better understanding of what it's like to have burnout from work. We talk about the psychological factors that contribute to the situation and touch a bit on how to overcome burnout from work.
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It's the Combination of the 3 Issues
When you feel exhausted from work but you're still highly engaged and invested in the outcome of your work, you haven't got the cynicism component and likely aren't dealing with burnout. When you're cynical about your work and you feel you're capable of more, you don't have the negative self-evaluation component. It's when you have all 3 that Dr. Christina Maslach says you're likely dealing with clinical burnout from work.
The Contributing Factors of Workplace Burnout
Sometimes there will be contributing factors that aren't related to your workplace environment. If your family life is taxing and you feel a lack of control over where things are going, that can combine with an overworked environment at work. One component can come from home and the other two may show up at work.
Burnout Symptoms are Similar to Depression
One study shows 40% of people with burnout from working too much also meet the clinical criteria for depression. Additionally, neurotransmitter scans from someone dealing with burnout look very similar to someone struggling with alcoholism.
Contributing Factors to Burnout from Work
Corporate structures are a major contributing factor to workplace burnout. One area where immediate changes can be made is in organizational structure. We talk about what to look for and how to address it.
Recovering from Work Burnout
I share a bit of my story as I journeyed out of burnout. We discuss nutrition, exercise, changing my work environment and looking deeper into the reasons I was so driven to achieve so much. There are often deep emotional issues we're struggling with that contribute to the perfect storm for burnout.