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November 10, 2021

Are You Suffering from Job Burnout?

Are You Suffering from Job Burnout

Things are on the rise. Consumer prices are rising. COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising (despite vaccinations), and job burnout is rising. Job burnout has taken-off during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for healthcare workers and teachers, but employees in all occupations are suffering from job burnout at higher rates, too.

job burnout
Illustration courtesy of Pixabay

Today we will look at what job burnout is, its causes, those most at risk (occupation and personality types), signs and symptoms of job burnout, and how to treat it from individual and company perspective.

What is Job Burnout?

Job burnout is a form of work-related stress. It is characterized by physical or emotional exhaustion. It is associated with a sense of loss of personal identity and  sense of accomplishment. Depression if felt to be a key factor behind job burnout. Job burnout is influenced by personality traits and family life. Distorted work-life balance is frequently seen in work burnout. Once established, work burnout tends to spillover into other aspects of one’s life adversely affecting home and social life. Depression is felt to behind many cases of burnout.

Signs and Symptoms of Work Place Burnout

The following are signs or symptoms that should raise red flags that you may be suffering from work place burnout. The more you answer “yes” to the following, the more you are at risk for job burnout.

  • You find yourself critical or cynical at work.
  • You have to “drag” yourself to work.
  • You lack energy and become less productive.
  • You find it increasingly difficult to concentrate.
  • You find less satisfaction with your work or accomplishments.
  • You are more irritable and impatient.
  • You are disillusioned about your job or career.
  • You are using food, alcohol, or drugs to cope or feel better.
  • You are getting less quality sleep.
  • You suffer from unexplained headaches, stomach/bowel issues, or other physical maladies.

Consider mental health counseling if you said “yes” to many of the above.

Causes of Job Burnout

The following are the more common causes of burnout at work.

  • Lack of control.   Most of us like our autonomy at work. We do not like being micromanage, and yet, nearly every career, job, or occupation is now heavily micromanaged, even in medicine. Everything we do at work is either tracked, measured, or monitored.  Lack of control and constant supervision is a de-motivator.
  • Workload.   Simply stated, overwork leads to burnout causing  exhaustion, body aches, sleep issues, and more. Also, the type of work is a factor. Work that is monotonous or very chaotic leads to burnout, too.
  • Dysfunctional work relationships. All sorts of personalities are found in the workplace and somehow you need to get along with most of them if you are going to enjoy your work. It is important that everyone feels like they belong and are respected by others at work. Developing strong social connections at work buffers against burnout.
  • Unclear job expectations. Clear expectations of your role, responsibilities, who you report, etc. need to be established from the get-go when you start a new job.
  • Lack of Recognition. People need more than a paycheck to feel worthy at work. People need to be recognized when they go above and beyond the expectations in doing a job well done. This recognition also needs to come from peers, and not just supervisors or bosses.
  • Work-life balance.  Many find that if they spend too much time on work, that they lose energy to spend with family, friends, or on hobbies or outside interests. There may be one exception to this cause and that is the individual who finds work and play one and the same. Those individuals seem to get energized the more time they spend working.

Health Consequences of Work Burnout

Work burnout that is prolonged or goes unaddressed leads to significant health problems including”

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Stress
  • Depression, anger, irritability
  • Substance abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Weakened immune system

Coping with Job Burnout

What can you do prevent job burnout or manage it better? There are several things you can do.  Some of them have to do with adjusting your lifestyle. Some have to so with making adjustments at work.

Lifestyle Changes

Work on improving your diet, engaging in relaxation techniques, getting exercise, and improving your sleep.

  • Focus more on fruits and vegatables while reducing consumption of starchy carbs like breads, pasta, potatoes, and rice.  Be sure to eat lean sources of protein, too. Improving the diet will give you better energy and help you ward off chronic disease which just add to the work stress.
  • Shoot for 30 minutes minimum of exercise every day. Exercise is a great way to blow of steam and frustration.
  • Get away from phone and computer screen time especially before bed to improve your sleep. A brain that is constantly stimulated by lights and screens at night is harder to relax.
  • Consider deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and prayer to reduce stress.  Don’t make prayer your last option, but rather your first choice.

Work Place Changes

  • Consider all work options and career alternatives. Sometimes the only way to escape the burnout is change jobs or careers.
  • Discuss other options with your current supervisor. Perhaps, a move to a new role within your company will be all the treatment you need. Set realist goals with your supervisor – perhaps there are areas where both parties can compromise.
  • Reach out to other co-workers for support. Large companies may have an employee assistance program and more and more employers are making available mental health counseling.


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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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