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July 28, 2023 | Blog

Navigating Burnout in the Workplace: Identifying the Top 10 Signs and Finding Relief

By Zach Schmit, PN1-NC, NASM-CPT

A lady giving presentation in a meeting

In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, many of us have experienced moments of stress, exhaustion, and feeling overwhelmed. But what happens when these feelings persist, leading to a profound sense of emotional and physical exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced productivity? Welcome to the realm of burnout.

We are going to delve into the very definition of burnout, distinguish it from stress, and identify the top 10 signs of burnout. Moreover, we’ll offer practical solutions for those struggling with burnout, empowering them to find relief and regain a sense of balance in their lives.

Defining Burnout and Understanding the Difference from Stress

Burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, often accompanied by feelings of cynicism, detachment, and reduced job performance. It typically occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to high levels of stress or excessive demands, leading individuals to feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained. Burnout can manifest in various areas of life, including work, relationships, and personal pursuits.

While stress is a natural response to external pressures and challenges, burnout is a more profound and persistent condition. Stress is often temporary, arising from specific situations, and can even be beneficial in some cases, motivating us to accomplish tasks. Burnout, on the other hand, is characterized by its prolonged nature, impacting a person’s overall well-being and functioning.

Top 10 Signs of Burnout

  1. Physical and Emotional Exhaustion. Persistent fatigue, low energy levels, and emotional drain are hallmark signs of burnout. Despite adequate rest, individuals may still feel lethargic and emotionally depleted.
  2. Increased Detachment. Burnout can lead to feelings of detachment and a sense of isolation from work colleagues, friends, and loved ones. This emotional distancing can hinder meaningful relationships.
  3. Reduced Job Performance. Burnout often negatively affects productivity and job satisfaction, leading to decreased performance levels, missed goals, and diminished enthusiasm for work-related tasks.
  4. Cynicism and Negativity. Those experiencing burnout may develop a negative outlook on life, becoming more cynical and pessimistic about their circumstances and future prospects, both personally and professionally.
  5. Cognitive Impairment. Burnout can interfere with cognitive functions, leading to difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and reduced problem-solving abilities.
  6. Physical Symptoms. Burnout may manifest through various physical symptoms, including headaches, stomachaches, muscle pain, and increased susceptibility to illnesses.
  7. Lack of Enjoyment. Activities that once brought joy and fulfillment may lose their appeal for individuals facing burnout, leaving them disinterested and unmotivated.
  8. Insomnia and Sleep Disturbances. Burnout often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative rest.
  9. Neglecting Self-Care. Individuals experiencing burnout may neglect self-care practices, such as exercising, eating well, and engaging in hobbies that bring joy.
  10. Feelings of Hopelessness. Prolonged burnout can lead to feelings of hopelessness, as individuals struggle to see a path toward improvement or change.

Finding Relief from Burnout

If you recognize any of the signs of burnout in yourself, one of your colleagues, or anyone else you know, take heart in knowing that there are actionable steps you can take to address and alleviate burnout. Here are five practical strategies to help you navigate this challenging experience:

  1. Seek Support. Access your organization’s EAP and schedule time with a counselor. You could also reach out to friends, family, trusted colleagues, or a mental health professional to share your feelings and experiences. Talking openly about burnout can help you gain perspective and find potential solutions.
  2. Set Boundaries. Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life to prevent burnout from encroaching on your well-being. Allow yourself time for rest, hobbies, and quality time with loved ones.
  3. Practice Self-Care. Prioritize self-care activities, such as regular exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature. Don’t forget that the quality of your mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. These practices can promote emotional resilience and improve overall well-being. Members of Covenant Workplace Solutions’ Lifestyle EAP have exclusive access to phased fitness programs, nutrition education, a library of healthy recipes, and much more to improve their physical health.
  4. Re-evaluate Priorities. Reflect on your goals and commitments, and identify tasks or responsibilities that may contribute to burnout. Consider delegating to teammates or eliminating non-essential tasks to reduce your workload.
  5. Engage in Stress-Relieving Activities. Seek out stress-relieving activities that resonate with you, such as yoga, journaling, listening to music, reading, or engaging in creative pursuits. These activities can provide a sense of calm and balance.

Burnout is a significant challenge that many individuals face, oftentimes exacerbated by the workplace, but it is essential to recognize its signs and take proactive steps to address it. By understanding the distinction between stress and burnout and being attentive to the signs, we can gain a deeper awareness of our emotional well-being.

Utilizing the strategies outlined above, we can find relief, restore balance, and pave the way for a healthier, more fulfilling life. Remember, having comprehensive resources proactively available for support is a crucial step towards reclaiming and sustaining a sense of well-being and vitality throughout the organization.

If you’d like to learn more about all the options available to your organization or discuss your current mental health and wellness strategy, contact us today!