Everyone is familiar with fatigue after a long working day and dream of vacation after a complicated project. But many begin to feel fatigued all the time. You lose motivation and interest in work. Have you ever had such a thing that you go to bed in the evening and already mentally hate tomorrow because you have to go to work again? Have you ever cried with fatigue and swore to your friends that you would soon quit your job and go to Bali to meditate? If any of the statements seem familiar to you, you may have burnout syndrome at work.

Often, workaholics are vulnerable to emotional burnout at work. The word “workaholic” is often used in conversations, and it has a positive meaning. A person is an irreplaceable employee and is happy doing his job! However, experts tend to take a darker view of workaholicism, considering it a mental disorder with a high probability of leading to emotional exhaustion, depression, and even physical health problems. Where is the line between love for work and addiction to it?

Burnout definition

Burning out is a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged work stress. Scientists believe that burnout is not just a mental state but a disease that affects the whole body. The term “burnout” was introduced by the American psychiatrist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974. He compared the state of a “burned-out” person with a burnt-out house. From the outside, the building can look safe and sound, and only if you go inside you can clearly see the degree of devastation.


Now psychologists distinguish three elements of emotional burnout:

  • exhaustion;
  • cynical attitude to work;
  • a feeling of incapacity.

Exhaustion leads to the fact that we easily get upset, sleep poorly, get sick more often, and hardly concentrate.

The cynical attitude towards our activities makes us feel detached from our colleagues and lack motivation.

And the feeling of incapacity makes us doubt our own abilities and perform our duties worse.

Signs of burnout

I have collected eight alarming symptoms of exhaustion, which may mean that your body has run out of strength to fight stress — burnout has begun.

You feel tired all the time

Constant fatigue, emotional and physical exhaustion directly indicate that the body has no strength left at all. If after a night of full sleep, a great weekend outdoors, or even a week of vacation, you feel tired, these are direct signs of burnout and many other even more dangerous conditions.

You can’t concentrate

You can evaluate your level of concentration subjectively: remember how fast you used to solve different work tasks six months ago and how you are dealing with them now. If you can’t focus even for a short time, you can talk about the work stress and the beginning of burnout. The same goes for remembering and studying.

Your work gets worse

In this symptom lies one of the main external differences between stress and burnout. In the first case, you are likely to work at the limit of your abilities, and some mistakes and failures can be attributed to the situation itself — the unreal deadline, the complexity of the task. When you burn out, you just start to work worse than you used to.

You are always busy

If you feel that the work has taken over all your time, you can’t put away your phone even after ten o’clock in the evening, take your computer with you on all your trips, and during a romantic dinner, you send messages to your boss, you should slow down and put at least minimum limits: such dedication will not be useful, only harm your health.

You get irritated and criticize too much

If you haven’t been out of grumbling mode lately (although you haven’t noticed this before), it’s a reason to wonder. Try to assess the causes of your irritability objectively. Is everyone around you really so bad, the atmosphere is so toxic, and the tasks are absolutely impossible? If so, maybe it’s time to change the job. But there is a high probability that this is just your perception, distorted by emotional burnout.

It’s hard for you to start doing something

Lack of motivation is a true forerunner of burnout. It manifests itself in the unwillingness to take up new projects or even go to work. There is no sense of anticipation of exciting tasks. Even the possibility of an upgrade or a financial bonus is not motivating. You realize that it would be nice to start working, but you keep procrastinating. A motivational drain is one of the official symptoms of exhaustion and burnout.

You start having health problems

Health problems may be associated with a deterioration in diet quality and the strengthening of bad habits. But chronic stress itself can slowly destroy the body. Can stress kill you? Indeed, it can. The longer you are under its influence, the worse you feel. Symptoms include back and neck pain, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, decreased libido, impaired menstrual cycle, and immune function.

You have stopped taking care of yourself

Instead of taking care of themselves, the person suffering from the burnout syndrome chooses the most destructive strategy of behavior — they ignore chronic fatigue and continue to work out of scope, do not have enough sleep, do not rest, but only eat the stress with junk food.

Seven steps on how to prevent burnout at work

happy woman

You can protect yourself from professional burnout if you follow several rules:

  • Do not neglect your vacations and rest. Any change of atmosphere is important;
  • The time outside your work belongs only to you. Don’t think about working at home, check your work email, and ask your colleagues not to call in the evenings;
  • Look for benefits in your work and keep them in mind at all times;
  • Ask for help if something doesn’t work out — don’t accumulate problems;
  • Do not try to take on 100500 responsibilities; take care of yourself;
  • Don’t stop in your professional development and constantly learn something new;
  • Do not tolerate any disrespect towards you at work.

How to stop feeling tired?

If you already feel the symptoms of a nervous breakdown and you have all the signs of burnout, try to understand why you have reached this condition in the first place. I also recommend that you take the following steps:

  • Get rid of perfectionism. An obsessive desire to make everything perfect and fear of making a mistake will drive you crazy. Relax, you can be a good employee without being a machine. 
  • Reduce the workload. Talk to your manager about your problem and ask for a review of your job responsibilities. 
  • Learn how to say no. Stop taking on a billion tasks – otherwise, you will burn!
  • Revive your interest in the work. Overqualification can also be the reason why you don’t have desire and motivation. Explore new tools on the market, talk to experts from other companies, sign up for an online course.
  • Have some rest. Fill your off-hours with fascinating activities. Your total obsession with work leads to burnout. And finally, stop checking your work email at night and answer customer calls after 6 PM.
  • Plan everything. Learn to plan your working day wisely and not to save things for later. You can use the Eisenhower Matrix to label your tasks.
  • Quit. If nothing helps and you can’t revive your love for work, it’s time to change your company or even profession.

Professional burnout is not a joke but a disease and a red flag. Honey, do not bring yourself to burnout: relax, distribute the workload, do not get stuck at work. And if you feel that you’re burning, sort out the reasons, and act right away – fight off the fire and keep yourself safe!




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