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Even Under the Best Circumstances, Burnout Is Widespread

When does job stress lead to burnout?

Today's guest blogger is Maggie Kimberl.

Burnout and chronic stress are already part of our daily work lives, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, those working in crucial occupations are likely feeling extreme stress on a daily basis. Those of us who have the good fortune to be able to work at home aren’t immune, however. It’s become more important than ever to mitigate the effects of long-term stress so that when this is all over, we’re in a better position to recover.

As people work longer hours to compensate for a rising cost of living, the stress of just making ends meet is enough. But when you add workplace stress in the mix, including those stressors created by a greater permeation of technology into every aspect of our working lives, it becomes harder and harder to let the daily stressors go. Over time, they build and lead to burnout. In the United States alone:

  • 51% of workers have felt burned out at least once
  • 77% of professionals report feeling work-related burnout
  • 84% of Millennials report feeling work-related burnout
  • 64% of workers report feeling stressed or frustrated at work at least once a week
  • 44% say stress is related to a high-pressure environment
  • 38% say stress is related to problems with management
  • 30% say stress is related to unrealistic expectations

Technology Plays a Part in Workplace Stress

Once upon a time, when it was time to leave the office all the stress would stay at the office. There wasn’t an expectation that you would be getting messages and responding to them at home, and in fact there was very little work that could be brought home at all.

Today, one in three employees blames tech for excess job stress. Because email is cloud-based and can be accessed anywhere, there is an expectation that it should be answered, day or night, within a few hours. Other tech tools that are meant to keep our teams cohesive can also feel like a digital leash, binding us to the stress of our day jobs in our off-hours. Workers report the following about tech:

  • 45% say there is an increase in their workload
  • 33% say their deadlines are tighter
  • 29% say tech has made them feel more socially isolated

How Chronic Stress Leads To Burnout—and How To Fight Back

Cortisol levels increase two to five times during times of stress. Higher cortisol levels can affect everything from cognitive function to memory and can increase A1C levels, blood pressure, and more. Over time, this stress can lead to higher instances of heart disease, depression, Type 2 diabetes, and more.

Lifestyle changes can help you cope with chronic stress before it becomes burnout. Maintaining a routine that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep is crucial. Socializing with others is a great way to ensure you aren’t spending too much time working or thinking about work. Learn to prioritize every day, and learn what can be put off if you need to reprioritize. Meditation and therapy are also great ways to manage stress levels.

It’s never been more important to take care of yourself. Start prioritizing self-care today.

Learn more about fighting chronic stress and burnout here.

More from Ronald E. Riggio Ph.D.
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