Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. It reduces productivity and saps energy, leaving a feeling of an increasing helplessness, hopelessness, cynicism and resentfulness. It may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. While you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.
In many cases, burnout stems from your job. But it is not caused solely by stressful work or too many responsibilities. Other factors contribute to burnout, including lifestyle and certain personality traits.
Work-related causes of burnout
Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
Lack of recognition or rewards for good work
Unclear or overly demanding job expectations
Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging
Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment
Lifestyle causes of burnout
Working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing
Being expected to be too many things to too many people
Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others
Not getting enough sleep
Lack of close, supportive relationships
Personality traits can contribute to burnout
Perfectionistic tendencies – nothing is ever good enough
Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others
High-achieving, Type A personality
Warning signs and symptoms of burnout
Preventing burnout
If you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout, remember that it will only get worse if you leave it alone. But taking steps to get your life back into balance, can help prevent burnout from becoming a full-blown breakdown.
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