4 Obvious Signs You’re Burnt Out At Work
I’ll never forget my brush with burnout; that one time when things got really difficult at work.
Just getting to my desk every day demanded a massive feat of mental strength. Once at work, I’d stare blankly at my laptop screen for a hot minute, telling myself to accomplish something—even if it barely strikes off my long to-do list for the day. Even then, I’d still feel exhausted and hopeless.
Speaking to colleagues and loved ones, they all echoed the same response: It sounds like you are burnt out.
At the time, I brushed my feelings aside as normal work stress and blamed the impossible workload on incompetence. All the frustration and exhaustion was surely just a part of work life, right? Adulting.
Even though the term “burnout” has become a buzzword, hitting millennials the hardest, it’s still a complex concept to understand—a fine line between normal stress and a more significant issue.
According to the World Health Organisation, burnout is exclusively work-related and is characterised by a sense of exhaustion or depletion, negativity about work and a decreased effectiveness at work over a period of time. A burnout is not just one bad day or an exceptionally tough week at work.
My experience with burnout made me realise that it’s difficult to identify the signs and it doesn’t just go away on its own. Here’s a little guide, based on my experience, to help you identify telltale signs of burnout and what you can do to bounce back from all the bad vibes.
Signs of burnout
Here are some of the most common symptoms and telltale signs of burnout:
1. Work Doesn’t Excite You Anymore
If you don’t feel any fulfilment from the projects you normally enjoy, or struggle to find even a shred of enthusiasm for things that used to excite you, that’s a huge red flag for burnout.
Such indifference or a prolonged lack of enthusiasm about your work could cause a ripple effect beyond the office, and negatively impact your everyday life.
2. You’ve Stopped Putting In Effort
Those who struggle with burnout tend to be the High Performers, so the contrast between their ‘burnt out’ and ‘normal’ approaches to work are striking. If you find yourself only willing to do the bare minimum and complete required tasks, that’s another telltale sign.
3. Your Work Performance Is Declining
With a lack of interest in daily tasks, people who are experiencing burnout see a decline in their performance at work, because they couldn’t care less to do things well.
This was one of the most telling signs for me as I am usually compulsive about meeting deadlines and putting out accurate, error-free work, which is crucial in marketing and communications.
4. You Are Perpetually Exhausted
People struggling with burnout feel fatigued and a helpless sense of exhaustion. Not only do you feel a lack of physical energy, but you can also feel emotionally drained when you’re burnout.
If getting out of bed becomes a daily struggle, you could be falling into the burnout zone.
Burnout could even take a toll on your physical health in the form of insomnia, headaches, dizziness or gastrointestinal pain. So don’t let it go unnoticed!
How to beat the burnout
The people I confided in offered me the same advice to alleviate burnout: take a break. While going on vacation does give you room to breathe and press pause, it doesn’t address your burnout situation. You’ll eventually come back as you were to the same environment, doing the same job.
Besides temporary measures like taking time off from work, you need to make active changes to your approach to work in order to keep burnout at bay. You could either change your attitude, change your workload, or both!
If you want to change your attitude, try to consciously identify and abort negative thoughts and habits. If you adopt a perfectionist or all-or-nothing philosophy when it comes to work, try cutting yourself some slack. You are good enough.
If you want to change your workload, try to lighten your volume of work. When you simply have too much on your hands, you can easily feel burnt out. Talking to your boss about how you’d manage better with a more reasonable workload helps to free up some pockets of time for #self-care and decrease your stress or anxiety levels.
A good rule of thumb to avoid feeling worn down is to make sure that a ‘yes’ to someone else is not a ‘no’ to yourself 🙅
My burnout episode was more than a year ago, and I hope this advice can help you or a loved one out of a similar situation too 😌
PS: If you’ve tried to change but your situation doesn’t allow you to, it could be time to find a new happy place 👉 sg.wantedly.com