Workplace Burnout


One day going to work you “just don’t feel it”, you start to feel overwhelmed and stressed that you are under performing in your tasks. You start taking sick days and feeling guilty for doing so, then the sick days start using up your leave. My friend, you have just reached Burnout.

In this post I would like to go through what Burnout is, the signs and some ways to deal with Burnout.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a result of excessive or prolonged stress where you feel emotionally, physically and mentally drained. It occurs when you haven’t been able to meet constant demands, feel overwhelmed with your duties and when you’re emotionally drained. The further you go down the path of Burnout you start to detach yourself from the passion, interest and motivation you had to do in you role in the first place.

Burnout is a destructive cycle start with reduced productivity and being drained constantly, leaving you to feel helpless, hopeless, cynical of your position and resentful. In the end you feel like you have nothing more to give.

The effects of Burnout leak into every aspect of your life, not just work. Over the long term you will find that you home and social life will suffer and your health will make you more vulnerable to catching a sicknesses more often.

With these prolonged effects it is good to understand the signs of Burnout and how to prevent them.

Signs & Symptoms of Burnout

We have all experienced days when we are struggling to get out of bed, continually thinkjng about a project at work, or feeling your effort at work is going unnoticed. If you feel like this most of the time though, you may be experiencing Burnout.

Burnout does not happen all at once, it is more “death by a thousand cuts” a gradual amount of small issues slowly creeping up on you and affecting you without realising. The signs and symptoms of Burnout are subtle at first but gradually get worse as time goes on. You should keep an eye out for any early symptoms and address them as needed. Being honest with yourself and actively reduce your stress you can prevent a major breakdown, ignoring them will result in you burning out.

Also I can’t stress this enough if you see a colleague experiencing any signs or symptoms of Burnout pull them aside and have a chat. Sometimes that person does not even know that they are starting to change their behaviour.

Physical Signs on Burnout

  • Constantly feeling drained and tired
  • Frequently getting sick
  • Headaches
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Change in eating habits

Emotional Signs of Burnout

  • Constant sense of failure
  • Self-doubt of your work/decisions
  • Feeling trapped, helpless and defeated
  • Pulling away form others, feeling alone
  • Lack of motivation
  • High negative outlook on life
  • Lacking sense of accomplishment/satisfaction

Behavioural Changes of Burnout

  • Isolation from colleagues/friends
  • Tasks take longer to complete, hard to focus
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Enraged easily
  • Avoiding work

Dealing with Burnout

When you are suffering from Burnout everything looks bleak, problems are overwhelming and you don’t have the energy to function, let alone help yourself. There are things you can do to help yourself deal with the stress and get a good life balance.

Here are a few suggestions I have personally done to help myself when I was in Burnout.

Find a good listener

I have always found talking face to face with someone is one of the fastest ways to calm down and relieve stress. You don’t need to have be an extrovert to talk about your problems, I have been approached by introverted people that needed someone to talk as well. The person you talk to doesn’t need to have the power to fix your problems, just someone who will actively listen without judgement.

Switch off the Tech

We are constantly being fed information, starting with the phone in your pocket. Turn the phone off when you get home. Leave your phone charging on the bench. Buy an alarm clock so you aren’t having your phone in arms distance. This has helped me a lot to focus on what issues are causing stress rather than distracting myself with technology.

Find value in your work

You’re position at your workplace is there for a reason, your manager has a great amount of trust in you to achieve tasks. Focus on how your role helps others in the business, or provides a essential product or service. If your manager is one of the causes of stress, having a chat over coffee may help get an understanding of each other, be open and honest it will at least make them aware of how you are feeling. I have found change my view of my role at work has given me a better sense of purpose and control, being open with my manager established a better sense of trust between one another.

Re-evaluate your priorities

Evaluate your priorities in life and setting some boundaries so you can include activities that you enjoy. I found that joining a gym and organising nights to catch up with friends to socialise really helped me with my mental health.

Take your holidays

Break up your work life by going on a holiday, you accrue them for a reason. Having a week away from work can really help rejuvenate yourself and reset your view. I take that time to work on personal projects I have been wanting to do, travel to other countries and catch up with friends and family.

A bit of backstory

I hope you have found this post useful, it was a hard one to write from my experience with Burnout and hits pretty close to home. In the city I was living in my closest friend and my brother moved away, the only family I had, I felt alone. I put all my effort into my work, I was working at an agency with tight deadlines and a lot of crunch time. I started falling behind in my tasks and no matter how hard I tried I could not find the motivation to get back to the level I was. I felt like I was letting the team down and started to distance myself, eventually coming to the opinion that I was no longer needed there. I started to get sick a lot and using a lot of my sick leave and holidays. I was pulled into a meeting with my manager and was given a performance review which didn’t help at all. Feeling like I was a failure, I quit that job a few months after. It was one of the worse experiences during my career and I wish I knew what Burnout was at the time. I hope you understand what Burnout is and this post helps you avoid going through what I did.