How burnout affects your mental health

Categories: Articles, Lifestyle, and Mental Health.

Burnout can affect your mental health

We live in a society that makes us believe that our worth is a direct result of our productivity. This conditions us to living up to certain expectations which can often lead us to taking career paths that overwhelm us and ultimately lead to burnout. Fast paced industries, like emergency medical fields, and workplaces that have a lot of demand have the highest instances of workers experiencing burnout. But anyone can experience the feeling of exhaustion that comes with working too hard for too long, from the hardworking office worker to the stay-at-home mom managing kids and a household.

What is burnout?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognised burnout as a “syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Until this change of definition by WHO, burnout was merely classified as a stress syndrome that could easily be treated by a day’s rest.

How can you tell if burnout is affecting your mental health?

Experiencing burnout means having symptoms such as:

-depleted energy levels

-mental exhaustion

-physical pain

-constant headaches

-reduced professional productivity

-negative outlook

-constantly comparing your success to other

-lack of enthusiasm and drive

If left untreated, these symptoms can have long term effects on your mental health as they could eventually build up to severe anxiety, depression and an onset of panic attacks.

What can cause burnout?

Successfully managing burnout in the workplace, where it is most common, means evaluating the possible causes for your burnout. In most cases, individual factors such as personality traits and family situations influence who experiences burnout in the workplace. Causes may include:

Lack of control : not being able to influence decisions that affect your job.

Unclear job expectations: you’re not likely to feel comfortable at work if you don’t know what is expected of you.

Dysfunctional workplace dynamics: Work stress can be caused by working with a bully or feeling undermined by your colleagues

Work-life imbalance:  Spending too much time and effort on work, leaving you with little energy to spend quality time with family and friends can lead to work burnout.

Understanding burnout means being able to distinguish it from other mental health concerns. Burnout has a stigma of being treated as “nothing serious”, but having an awareness of signs and symptoms ensures that you can remedy the situation before it escalates and has a negative impact on your mental health, work relationships and personal interactions.

Being aware that you are suffering from burnout is the first step in relinquishing your power and releasing the grip burnout has on you. Getting more efficient and working smarter isn’t always the fix all. Sometimes it’s as simple as learning to set healthy boundaries and being ok with the effects of setting those boundaries.

How to manage burnout

When experiencing burnout, try to seek support from friends and family, practice mindfulness by focusing on your breath flow and facing situations with patience and openness, and be sure toget some rest to restore your well-being and protect your health. You can also help prevent burnout by scheduling self-care treatments and engaging in relaxing activities like meditation, yoga and tai-chi. Make sure you evaluate your options by setting goals of things you can manage and things that can wait. Your mental health comes first.

If you love what you are doing, continue doing great work, but if not, remember you are always able to make smarter choices by stopping, resting, re-evaluating your situation and following a better path.

Sources

-Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders. (2013). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.978089042
-Robinson, J., Burnout Prevention and Treatment. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm
-Abramson, A. Burnout and stress are everywhere https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/01/special-burnout-stress
-Brennan, DWhat to Know About Work Burnout. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-to-know-about-work-burnout
-Nadon, L., De Be. Behavioural science. MBPI, 1(Q), 3–8. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12030082
https://www.ivyexec.com/career-advice/2019/the-industries-where-people-experience-burnout-the-fastest/