Burnout

Are You Burned Out?

You may need a break from work. Here are the signs.

Posted Feb 24, 2020

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Stress is a common aspect of jobs today, in fact, virtually all people experience job stress. What is more alarming is that 26 to 40 percent of people are extremely stressed or burned out (in North American samples)1. The difference between stress and burnout is that burnout is more than just emotional exhaustion and also includes a diminished sense of personal accomplishment, cynicism, and depersonalization2.

Burnout is especially problematic because it can lead to mental and/or physical health problems over time3 4 5 6. This, in turn, can results in lost work, accidents, etc.5 

To determine whether or not you are burned out, ask yourself6:

Emotional exhaustion

  • Do you feel emotionally overextended?
  • Do you feel you have no energy to go to work even after a full night's sleep?
  • Do you feel like you are "all used up" at the end of a workday?

Depersonalization

  • Do you snap at people at work who you care about?
  • Do you feel apathetic to co-workers when you previously cared?
  • Do you feel disconnected from everyone when you previously felt part of the team?

Cynicism

  • Do you not care about the work when you previously did?
  • Do you feel you could not be bothered by work or others?
  • Do you think there's no reason or purpose for your job or the company when you may have before?

Reduced personal accomplishment

  • Do you have trouble solving problems that you previously could?
  • Do you not feel like you are contributing to your work or the team?
  • Do you feel like you aren't good at your job when you know you have the ability to do so?
  • Even when successfully completing a task, do you not feel you have achieved something?

If you feel these traits every day, then you are likely burned out. And, if you feel you are burned out, you need a respite from the situation.

You may feel that they need you at work, or it's too busy to take a break, but this mentality may be why you got into a burnout in the first place. If you don't take a timeout, you may get sick or injured and/or become even more mentally unavailable. Therefore, it's better to take a step back while you can still come back and help. You need to unplug, go on vacation, or just take a long break.

References

(1) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (n.d.). Stress...at work (Publication No. 99-101). Cincinnati, OH.

(2) Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. (1986) Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual. Palo Alto, University of California. Consulting Psychologists.

(3) Edwards, J. R., & Rothbard, N. P. (1999). Work and family stress and well-being: An examination of person–environment fit in the work and family domains. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 77(2), 85-129. doi:10.1006/obhd.1998.2813

(4) Harnois, G., & Gabriel, P. (2000). Mental health and work: Impact, issues and good practices. Geneva: World Health Organisation/International Labour Organisation.

(5) Houtman, I., & Jettinghoff, K. (2007). Protecting Workers' Health Series: Vol. 6. Raising awareness of stress at work in developing countries: A modern hazard in a traditional working environment: Advice to employers and worker representatives (E. Kortum, L. Stavroula, & B. Jane, Eds.). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

(6) Sauter, S. L., Murphy, L. R., & Hurrell, J. J. (1990). Prevention of work-related psychological disorders: A national strategy proposed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). American Psychologist, 45(10), 1146-1158. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.10.1146