“Hey, how’s work?” – “Oh, work’s been the worst. An absolute dread. I’m heading for burnout, for sure.” Burnout. Modern plague. It calls for empathy, tiny claps, worried nods, and even (in extreme cases) a healthy dose of envy. It’s hipster malaise. It’s yuppie dedication. And we flaunt our burnout as wounded corporate warriors; the ultimate evidence of our devotion. We fought for our company. We gave it our all. The ability to work under pressure? That’s me. I thrive on deadlines, multitasking, long hours, and immense responsibility. Give it to me. Give it all. – Yes, we’ve all been there. And it is feasible – until the weight on our chest becomes too heavy to breathe. The mind becomes a beehive. And control is no more. Burnouts are complex and downright terrifying. Luckily, our bodies are intuitive beasts. They sense impending dangers. These are symptoms of job burnout you shouldn’t ignore.
Burnouts are challenging to diagnose due to their versatile nature; this state of physical and mental exhaustion can mimic many ailments and illnesses. Burnouts are crafty little things, to put it bluntly. In medical terms, burnout is chronic, work-related stress that hasn’t been successfully managed. To make things worse, it is accumulative, meaning it’s not exactly a surprise party hiding under our kitchen table. Its buildup is slow, meticulous, and hardworking. It is a stealthy enemy. If left unaddressed, burnout can lead to somatic problems.
SYMPTOMS OF A JOB BURNOUT
Burnouts make us question our sanity. Am I just fatigued, or is this a full-on mental health red alarm? Maybe I’m just looking for excuses. The “doubt see-saw” is real. So, what are the symptoms of burnout? Are we imagining things, or is this our body’s way of saying S.O.S?
You can’t concentrate. Your memory isn’t what it used to be. You find your fingertips resting on your keyboard, your eyes gazing out the window, and your mind wandering in utter silence – while on deadline. The phone is ringing, pop-up office mutiny emerges, and your boss’s nostrils flare in anticipation. And you make a mistake. One, two, dozen. In a day. Colleagues interrupt you; emails distract you from finishing the project. You fall behind schedule. We all have our bad days. Still, if you cannot focus on performing tasks day in and day out, you might be heading for the big B.
Again, feeling anxious about signing a big contract, possible promotion, and other major work-related events is more than normal. Adrenaline is our fuel. Still, performance anxiety significantly differs from constant dread; your workplace becomes a personified tyrant. You dread going to work; the unsettling emotions compromise your ability to perform day-to-day. You just want to go home. If you’re experiencing nausea, chest tightness, fatigue, excessive sweating, rumination (repetitive thought pattern), or panic attacks – it’s a sign. The burnout train has reached the station, and it’s not leaving without you.
Many individuals decide to start anew after experiencing job burnout. Moving to a new city, state, or country seems like it may help. Canada, for example. If you feel your job isn’t providing you with a sense of stability, maybe it’s time to change your environment. Canada offers some of the best places for starting over.
One of the most frequent symptoms of job burnout is – the one and only, the infamous – insomnia. Oh, the sleepless nights, with nothing to cover your weary mind except rumination. Just when you’re about to surrender your consciousness, a vivid image of your 9 A.M. meeting plays out before your resting eyes. Your heart starts beating; worrisome thoughts penetrate the ramshackle gates of slumber. You remain awake but paralyzed. The hours go by, and the sun rises. The jittery silhouette moves through the cold morning light, another day at the office. Rings a bell? Insomnia is directly linked to burnout, given the importance of healthy sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation, if left unattended, can cause cardiovascular problems. Now, we all want healthy hearts, don’t we?
EXHAUSTION IS A FULL-TIME OCCUPATION
There’s good exhaustion, there’s bad exhaustion, and there’s perpetually bad exhaustion. What is good exhaustion? We define it as hard work we enjoy. Say you’re an architect working on a project. You’re tired, working overtime, but you’re also driven and focused; getting the work done is exhilarating. Burnout is the opposite of excitement. It’s blocks of stress on top of blocks of stress, resulting in physiological, physical, and emotional exhaustion. The weight slowly breaks your body. You are drained – mental fog, lethargy, fatigue, a ball of nothingness. Your physical, emotional, and mental capacities are down to zero, and any given task invites despair, misery, and inner tears. Cortisol and adrenaline polka dance, making your body twitch in hormonal agony. Sounds good?
CALLING IN SICK
Stress invites our immune system to wave the white flag. And it does. Over and over. Granted, some people are more prone to catching a cold; are you the type? How often do you feel unwell? Can’t shake the fever or sore throat? Runny nose? Burnout leaves our immune system defenseless; some people can drag a cold for a month or even get sick every two months. Many ignore this obvious burnout symptom and carry on with work as if being sick all the time is the new normal. It’s not. It’s a red alarm telling you your health has been compromised. It’s time to slow down. Stop and recharge.
Words of praise mean nothing to you. Your coworkers love you, and your boss keeps saying: “great job!” but you cannot help but feel utter emptiness. Everything is – meaningless. Burnout is the expressway to depression, threatening to endanger your personal life. Luckily, there are available antidotes that can help alleviate depression. If you’re experiencing difficulty finding meaning and joy, maybe it’s time to take some time off and think hard about your future.
Symptoms of job burnout are not to be ignored. Suppressing or ignoring clear signs of impending trouble will only get you so far. Appreciate yourself; nothing and no one can ever be more important. If you would like to discuss job burnout and mental health further, or would like to talk to a professional, please contact us HERE.