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  • Writer's pictureKristen Conte

Understanding Career Burnout

What is burn out?

Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion, brought on by prolonged and unmanaged stress. Career burnout, specifically, can start when we don’t get satisfaction out of our work but feel like we have no choice but to continue doing it (CAMH). THis can make every work day feel bad, and bring about feelings of uselessness, hopelessness and even resentment. According to Boston University Dr. XX, career burnout can be divided into three categories: energy depletion and exhaustion, depersonalization and cynicism and lastly, reduced efficacy and productivity at work. When we feel exhausted or depleted, it can become a chronic situation, like a state of being, which can feel physically and emotionally heavy, decreasing motivation overall. Paired with burnout are feelings of loneliness as well. This can feel like not being noticed, cared about or included in the workplace. It can also feel like there aren't people you can turn to when the going gets tough (BU).

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout can surface in a variety of both emotional and physical symptoms which make it difficult to tend to our responsibilities or perform at our best in a variety of aspects of our life, not just work. For instance, symptoms of career burnout won't just stick around between work hours but will often, stretch beyond the hours of work and begin to affect our ability to be present and engaged at home, with family and friends (BU). A common symptom of burnout is feeling drained and tired all the time. These feelings can manifest in the physical body as well as body aches and headaches accompanied by a loss of appetite. Burnout cna impact sleep as well whether it feels like there is a constant need to rest and sleep, or feeling so overwhelmed and restless from being burned out, that sleep is hard to come by overnight (CAMH). The symptoms of burnout can start to impact a person’s confidence in themselves, it can impact their ability to get things done both at work and at home, creating a sense of overall failure and helplessness over one’s life. Overtime, burnout can create a sense of detachment from work and life, and with prolonged feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, burnout can lead to depression. Whereas stress, can make people feel hyperactive and over-reactive (CAMH) with family and friends.

Coping and Prevention

The first question after reading all this information can be, well how do we prevent burnout from happening? First, we need to understand our unique signs of burnout and become aware of when burnout is happening in our own lives. It isn’t always obvious that we are burning out as it often tends to creep up slowly during busy or overwhelming periods at work. We can also reach out to colleagues that we trust, to talk about how we are feeling. Often when feeing burned out, it is tempting to withdraw and socially become reclusive. However, connecting with others can push away the feelings of loneliness and isolation, and help to provide some clarity around our current work situation (CAMH). At work, looking for tasks or projects that provide purpose and passion, can really help to keep you engaged, increase your motivation and remind you of your purpose in working where you are. Outside of work, activities like walking, running or any type of exercise can help to boost your mood. Eating foods that uplift your mood and nouroish your body can help with the energy depletion that burnout can bring. Lastly, all things in moderation. Bringing joy, play, creativity and enjoyment to your life will help to balance the effects of work and burnout. Work-life balance is key ! Self-care is in order !

What do I do if I am feeling really burned out?

Talk to a professional! A doctor can support you with burnout by evaluating your physical and mental health and making referrals. Also, seeing a therapist can be really supportive in coping with and managing present symptoms. Self-care may be in order!

Book now with one of our therapists now to start your journey to feeling more yourself again.

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