Burnout in the Modern Workplace: Identifying It and Dealing with It

In recent times, you may have heard the terms ‘burnout’ or ‘workplace burnout’. This commonly refers to a feeling of hopelessness in your career and can be influenced by several factors. It’s important to note that everybody goes through some rough times at work, and this isn’t necessarily what we mean by workplace burnout.

Burnout goes a little deeper than that, and it can occur suddenly or after a long period of dissatisfaction at work. As a clinical psychologist would put it, workplace burnout is a type of stress created by workplace factors. It might not even be one incident or one person to blame, but a culmination of feelings related to your career.

Is ‘burnout’ a medical condition?

Burnout in itself isn’t a medical diagnosis. It does however cause significant stress and anxiety. There are some thoughts that people suffering from burnout also have signs of depression. While this is true in many cases, it’s not always the case. Workplace burnout can be attributed to a number of factors, such as:

  • High workload or long hours
  • Lack of recognition
  • Unclear job expectations
  • A dysfunctional workplace environment
  • Job not being challenging enough.
  • Workplace bullying or harassment.

This list isn’t exhaustive but are some of the contributing factors someone feeling burned out. While not explicitly a medical condition, it does often require psychological treatment due to the associated feelings and issues it can present.

Signs of workplace burnout

There are plenty of signs you might be experiencing workplace burnout. It’s important to note that one or two of these symptoms on their own may not be indication of burnout. However, when grouped together, there may be an underlying problem rather than just not having a good time at work.

  • Being cynical or critical of things at work
  • Disillusioned with your job.
  • You feel like you’re dragging yourself to work each day.
  • Decreased productivity
  • Lack of satisfaction with your work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased career ambition
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach issues
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Not caring about consequences of poor performance

Treatment options for workplace burnout

Many of the solutions to workplace burnout are not necessarily medical or psychological. However, here’s a mixture of ideas to help cope with workplace stress and burnout.

  • Discuss your issues with a supervisor. Some clear goals and expectations from both sides can help.
  • Reach out to family, friends or trusted colleagues to talk through your problems. Try to work together on solutions, rather than just venting.
  • Work on getting a better sleep routine. This can help your mindset each day.
  • Eat well and exercise. It’s important to look after yourself physically, as this can impact your mental health too.
  • Mindfulness techniques can also help you to focus on situations more calmly.

As always, if you feel that none of the above techniques are of benefit, seek some medical help. Talking to your GP is a great start, and they may refer you to a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist for further treatment. It may be helpful to talk to a professional about your goals, options and learn some techniques for coping with workplace stress.

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