NewsBeating burnout: understanding, recognizing and combating job burnout in the contemporary workforce

Beating burnout: understanding, recognizing and combating job burnout in the contemporary workforce

Burnout - how to recognize and deal with it?
Burnout - how to recognize and deal with it?
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8:55 AM EST, January 10, 2024

Job burnout, also known as burnout syndrome, is a widespread issue in the modern workforce, and it isn't limited by industry, job nature, position, age, or gender. It can occur following both failures and successes.

Essentially, burnout is a psychological state that emerges after enduring high-stress levels at work for an extended period. It's characterized by a loss of satisfaction from the job, chronic fatigue, and decreased energy and motivation, amongst other symptoms.

The stages of job burnout

The crux of job burnout is effectively illustrated by the three-dimensional burnout theory laid out by Christina Maslach. As a professor of psychology at the University of California in Berkeley and a specialist in job burnout, she theorizes that burnout comprises three elements: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.

The first dimension, emotional exhaustion, is characterized by an aversion to work, a decrease in duty commitment, and a drop in energy, which often presents as apathy, irritability, or fatigue. Physical symptoms can follow, including headaches, stomach aches, gastric issues, or sleep disorders.

The second dimension, depersonalization and cynicism, involves indifference toward people's problems around workers—for example, customers. This typically results in a very impersonal, dehumanizing approach to customers, frequently associated with negative appraisal.

The final element is a diminished sense of personal accomplishment. Behaviors linked to this include lack of satisfaction from achievements, lowered self-esteem, feelings of incompetence, and trouble managing job tasks and maintaining relationships with colleagues.

Recognizing the symptoms of job burnout

Job burnout can manifest in various ways, with several states and behaviors acting as indicators of this problem. The most commonly cited symptoms include:

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion;
  • Concentration difficulties;
  • Mood swings, such as anger, apathy, or irritability;
  • Energilessness;
  • Chronic fatigue;
  • Aversion to work and professional responsibilities;
  • Negative attitude towards work;
  • Unwillingness to relate to coworkers;
  • Lowered self-esteem;
  • Lack of joy at work;
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia, frequent waking, persistent fatigue, and occasionally problems with waking up;
  • Avoidance of making crucial business decisions;
  • A decline in creativity;
  • Deteriorating immunity;
  • Frequent infections;
  • Physical complaints such as palpitations, headaches, stomachaches, and muscle aches;
  • Overall discomfort;
  • Increased blood pressure;
  • Muscle tension;
  • Greater tendency to use substances.

Combatting job burnout

Work constitutes a significant part of life, especially considering the amount of time we dedicate to it. Commonly, job burnout is mistakenly understood as mere fatigue. However, the critical difference is that while ordinary fatigue dissipates after a few days of rest, burnout does not disappear so easily.

There isn’t a universal solution for individuals experiencing job burnout. The optimal approach involves proactive, multifaceted steps taken before the problem exacerbates. Therefore, if you observe that the job once enjoyed has ceased to bring pleasure and is negatively affecting various aspects of your life (emotionally, physically, and psychologically), it's prudent to initiate appropriate steps.

Coping with job burnout: Tips and advices

If you aim to safeguard yourself from job burnout and its adverse impacts, consider implementing the following steps:

  1. Identify what is happening to you.
  2. Cultivate self-care routines and address your needs.
  3. Ensure adequate rest, sleep, and time for relaxation and enjoyment.
  4. Plan your time in a way that instills joy and minimizes stress.
  5. Spend time with people who elevate your mood and bring you joy. Adopt a healthy diet and ensure daily physical activity.
  6. Foster a non-work related hobby. Explore stress management techniques, such as breathing exercises or workshops.
  7. Avoid extra professional commitments and setting excessively high standards for yourself.
  8. Improve your self-esteem by reflecting on your successes and achievements.
  9. Set attainable goals that align with your capabilities.
  10. Contemplate on your professional growth.
  11. Discuss with your supervisor about a temporary duty alteration or contemplate changing your position.
  12. Seek professional assistance – a physician, a psychotherapist, or a coach.
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