People who are struggling to cope with workplace stress may place themselves at high risk of burnout. Workplace burnout can leave people feeling exhausted, empty, and unable to cope with the demands of life.
Burnout may be accompanied by a variety of mental and physical health symptoms as well. If left unaddressed, burnout can make it difficult for an individual to function well in their daily life.
What Is Burnout?
The term “burnout” is a relatively new term, first coined in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger, in his book, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. He originally defined burnout as, “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”
Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability.
More simply put, if you feel exhausted, start to hate your job, and begin to feel less capable at work, you are showing signs of burnout.
The stress that contributes to burnout can come mainly from your job, but stress from your overall lifestyle can add to this stress. Personality traits and thought patterns, such as perfectionism and pessimism, can contribute as well.
Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working. And if you hate your job, dread going to work, and don’t gain any satisfaction out of what you’re doing, it can take a serious toll on your life.
Signs and Symptoms of Workplace Burnout
While workplace burnout isn’t a diagnosable psychological disorder, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Here are some of the most common signs of burnout:
- Alienation from work-related activities: Individuals experiencing burnout view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with. They may also emotionally distance themselves and begin to feel numb about their work.
- Physical symptoms: Chronic stress may lead to physical symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches or intestinal issues.
- Emotional exhaustion: Burnout causes people to feel drained, unable to cope, and tired. They often lack the energy to get their work done.
- Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work—or in the home when someone’s main job involves caring for family members. Individuals with burnout feel negative about tasks. They have difficulty concentrating and often lack creativity.