Workplace burnout

How to Spot Workplace Burnout – Are You Affected?

From time to time, it’s normal to feel a little stressed at work. However, for some people, that stress becomes all-consuming and affects their daily life. In time, this can leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, frustrated and even depressed. This is known as ‘burnout’ and results from chronic workplace stress that is not successfully managed.

Interestingly, the World Health Organisation now takes burnout more seriously and has recently reclassified it as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ in order to reflect that it’s a work-based syndrome that’s caused by chronic stress. The newly listed effects of workplace burnout include:

  • feelings of exhaustion or energy depletion
  • feelings of cynicism or negativity towards your job
  • reduced work performance

The re-labelling of burnout should be a wake-up call for all employers to consider unmanaged workplace stress as a health and safety issue and to take the necessary steps to provide strategies to help combat it.

How to spot if you’re burnt out

If you think that you might be struggling with workplace stress and burnout, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. In recent months, have you become resentful or angry with your work or colleagues?
  2. Has anyone close to you suggested that you should cut down on your workload?
  3. Do you feel that you aren’t spending enough quality time with your family or friends?
  4. Do you find that you are increasingly emotional, such as feeling tense, getting angry, crying or shouting for no apparent reason?

If your answer was yes to any of these questions, it might be time to make a change! However, the first step should be to talk to your manager, as most workplaces now offer free access to an external psychologist for stress counselling as part of an employee assistance program. Learn more about that here and here.

Who’s most at risk?

Any worker, from retail staff to teachers, have the potential to suffer from workplace burnout. That said, studies show that emergency service providers – such as paramedics, police, doctors and nurses – are at even greater risk because they regularly work in high-stress, fast-paced conditions. Another profession that’s particularly vulnerable to workplace stress is lawyers, with 73% admitting to feeling burnout. But whatever job you have, if you’re continually pushed beyond your limits, you are at risk of burning out.

It’s OK to say no to extra work

Your employer has a legal obligation to promote staff well-being and make sure that employees are not overstressed or overworked. But there are things we can all do to reduce our risk of workplace burnout. One of those is to increase our level of resilience to help us deal with stress in a healthy way and bounce back despite facing challenges. Some ways you can do this include: setting boundaries for your work, learning to switch off and making time for things you enjoy most in life. And always remember, no matter what you do to earn a living, don’t let your job become the only way that you define yourself as a person.

Get the help you need

In this era of smartphones and emails 24/7, it’s becoming more challenging to switch off from work and from those who demand more of us. If you feel that any of the above signs apply to your circumstances, then you may benefit from seeking professional help with an experienced psychologist.

Take our online self-assessment to test your stress levels


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