Recently, the World Health Organization included burnout in its 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. While the World Health Organization didn’t classify burnout as a medical condition, they did classify it as an occupational phenomenon. Burnout in this sense is specific to the workplace, and can be defined as:
“… a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy”
In response to this new addition, the World Health Organization is working on developing evidence-based guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace. In the meantime, there are a few ways that you can immediately spot workplace burnout, as well as steps you can take to create some more space on the job.
Recognizing Signs of Burnout
Job burnout can affect your physical and mental health, as well as your life on and off the clock. It’s important to note that there are many overlapping symptoms between job burnout and anxiety and depression. You should always consult a doctor or mental health professional. Talk with them about what you’re experiencing so you can get the help you deserve.
Job burnout can occur when you feel as if you lack control in the workplace. This could be because you’re unable to influence decisions that affect your job (i.e. your schedule, assignments or workload) or it could be an overall lack of resources to do your job to the best of your ability. Other causes can include:
- Unclear or unrealistic job expectations
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
- Consistently chaotic circumstances
- Lack of social support
- Work-life imbalance
The results of burnout can be extreme fatigue, lack of job performance which could unfortunately result in disciplinary action against you, heart disease, vulnerability to illness, insomnia and more.
To begin recognizing the signs of burnout, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you started to be more critical at work?
- Do you feel like you have to force yourself to go to work and then struggle to get started once you’re there?
- Do you find yourself being more impatient with your co-workers or customers?
- Are you struggling to stay consistently productive, when that hasn’t always been an issue?
- Do you have a hard time concentrating?
- Do you feel dissatisfied with your achievements?
- Do you feel bitter about your job?
- Are you using food, alcohol or substances to escape your burned out feeling?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Have you noticed an onset of stomach or bowel issues, or an increase in headaches or other illnesses?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, you may be experiencing job burnout.
What to Do if You Have Job Burnout
If you feel like you have job burnout, do your best to take immediate action. Burnout won’t just get better on its own. First, consult your doctor or mental health professional. Discuss your symptoms and workload with them and work together to map out a plan to improve your circumstances.
If you determine that you have job burnout, there are a few immediate steps you can take:
Examine Your Options
If you have a healthy relationship with your boss or manager, have a conversation with them about the symptoms you’re experiencing. If you’re able to identify specific behavior or circumstances that are contributing to burnout, have those prepared to discuss.
Work together, if possible, to change expectations or find alternative solutions. Maybe you need to add to the staff to give you more support. Maybe work needs to be delegated better. Maybe you need to have a guaranteed lunch break. Work to set goals for what should change immediately, and what can be a goal for the future.
Support from your immediate social network is so important. Whether that group is your coworkers, friends or loved ones, talk with them about your job burnout. Additionally, if you’re able to talk with a mental health professional, their insight and perspective will be invaluable as you work to create new boundaries in the workplace.
Look for Ways to Relax
When you’re not at work, what are some ways that you can calm your mind and relax a little bit? When you’re able to decompress off-the-clock, you can reset your mind and feel more prepared to take on the challenges of the day. That doesn’t change your work circumstances, but it will at least make you feel more emotionally equipped.
Explore yoga, meditation or tai chi, or even practice just 5 minutes of mindfulness. Mindfulness, especially, can help you recognize your feelings of burnout and be able to pinpoint them better so you can take action to improve them.
Get Better Sleep
Stress impacts sleep, but sleep also impacts stress. Even just 30 minutes more of sound sleep can impact your well-being and help protect your health.
We’re Here to Help
Job burnout is a real thing, and we’re here to help you find ways to improve your well-being in and out of the workplace. Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing.