The three characteristics of burnout are emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of accomplishment in your job.
Emotional exhaustion is when you feel emotionally depleted and find yourself dealing with extreme fatigue in the workplace. Depersonalization means that you become emotionally detached and respond to others indifferently.
A sense of accomplishment means that you feel competent to carry out your work-related tasks and that you are successful at work – with burnout, you feel the opposite.
Burnout is caused by being exposed to chronic stress because you are unable to meet the demands of your situation. This is quite common in nurses where the profession is short-staffed, and they have to work longer shifts with an increased patient load for an extended period. The stress must be ongoing for a while. Short-term stress while working on a project, for example, is relieved when the assignment ends and doesn’t lead to burnout.
Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout takes time to develop and has a gradual onset. In the beginning, you may overlook the symptoms, but as they become progressively worse, you can no longer pretend that everything is okay. Ignoring these signs and failing to decrease stress can cause a major breakdown.
The symptoms of burnout are generally broken down into physical, emotional, and behavioral.
Physical symptoms include the kind of exhaustion that makes you feel drained, constant headaches, backache, and/or muscle pains, skin disorders, getting sick often due to lowered immunity, and changes in your sleeping and eating patterns.
Emotional symptoms include depersonalization, feeling like a failure, no motivation, becoming increasingly negative, lack of job satisfaction, and a sense of isolation without support.
Behavioral symptoms involve consuming alcohol as a coping strategy, taking unapproved time off work, pulling back from responsibilities, procrastination, irritability, and mood swings.
While someone can burn out from not having had leave in years or feeling downtrodden at work, personal factors play an even bigger role, especially your personality and lifestyle. Things such as a lack of work-life balance (e.g., choosing to work long hours), being a perfectionist, having a pessimistic nature, trying to control everything, and not having supportive relationships all contribute. The person who is prone to burnout will feel resentful at work that they are not praised or rewarded, will feel that they are doing more tasks than others and that they are not fairly compensated for their efforts, even when other colleagues in the same boat do not develop burnout. This attitude towards work can lead to high turnover in your jobs if not dealt with.
You can deal with imbalances in your life by cutting back on late nights and weekends at the office and adopting a regular schedule. Taking breaks during the day, not taking work home, using your leave for a proper holiday, and learning to delegate and collaborate with others will make a huge difference.
If you feel isolated, learn how to be happy alone. While having friends and family is good for you, it shouldn’t be a need and a burden on you or them. Become your own best friend.
Take care of your body. This means exercising, which boosts moods. It also involves eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep, every night. Select the best mattresses you can for your comfort and a restful night.
Pamper yourself with bath salts and scents, such as aromatherapy.
Learn how to be resilient in life since it won’t always cut you breaks.