What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion due to overwork and stress that can lead to a feeling of ineffectiveness and a lack of meaning or purpose.

Burnout is not a clinical diagnosis, therefore there aren’t exact diagnostic criteria.

However, some signs and symptoms of burnout include…

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low job satisfaction, regardless of achievements
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness

  • Becoming increasingly critical or cynical
  • Susceptibility to colds, headaches, and fevers
  • Depression

Some causes of burnout include…

  • Overworking or feeling spread too thin.
  • Working in a dysfunctional environment (ex: micromanaged by your boss or undermined by your supervisor or colleagues).
  • Inability to influence decisions, lack of control over your schedule, tasks, or workload.
  • Unclear job expectations.
  • Lack of social support, which is also known to be a buffer to burnout.
  • Working in a helping profession, such as health care, nurses, doctors, teachers, counselors, or social workers, are more susceptible due to their nature of work.

Strategies and Techniques for Overcoming Burnout

First and foremost, devise a plan of action to distinguish between stress and burnout. Stress is more acute and situational, while burnout is more chronic and ongoing.

For example, let’s say you’re feeling overwhelmed at work because you can’t seem to get all of your work done. Develop a realistic schedule that will allow you to get some work done each day until you’re completely finished.

If you complete all of the tasks and still feel overwhelmed, then you’re likely dealing with some form of burnout. So, how can you “fix” burnout?

One thing you can do is learn to say “no” if you are at full capacity and your boss asks you to do one more thing. Be honest with your boss and tell him/her that you simply cannot take on any more tasks at the time.

You can give her a future date or timeline for when you believe you will be able to take on more tasks, but saying “yes” only exacerbates the issue.

Another thing you can do is practice self-care. Do the things that rejuvenate/recharge you, whatever those may be. A few examples include:

  • Spend time with friends, family, and loved ones.
  • Go on a vacation or a weekend getaway.
  • Get a massage.
  • Head to the gym or start exercising.
  • Watch your favorite TV show.
  • Play video games.

You can also explore stress-relieving activities, such as yoga, guided meditation, or tai chi. Or, try processing your feelings with your support system. You should also try prioritizing your sleep!

Lastly, if you are still experiencing burnout after implementing all of these things, you might have to cut your losses and go elsewhere. This might include looking for a new job or looking for a healthier environment.

I hope you’ve learned a bit more about burnout, its signs and symptoms, its causes, and how to overcome it. For more info, listen to our podcast episode on rest!

Click here for more content by Tarik Sloussi, M.A.!

Tarik Sloussi, M.A.
Tarik is a psychotherapist specializing in working with adolescent and young adult guys. When he’s not working,Tarik enjoys playing and watching sports, writing articles on current sporting events, and screaming at the TV.

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