Do you feel drained, both mentally and physically? Do you feel cynical and even irritable about work and performance? You’re not alone.
A recent survey found that 46% of Singaporeans are working longer hours than before, leading to increased levels of stress and anxiety. Similarly, work and financial stress were listed as the top reasons for poor mental health. In fact, many of us may be experiencing burnout at work, without even realising it.
Learn how to spot the signs of burnout and what steps you can take to recover from it.
What is Burnout?
A common misconception is that burnout is synonymous with stress and can be caused by chronic stress.
While they are related, there’s a difference. Often, stress is the result of taking on too many things at work and feeling overwhelmed. On the other hand, burnout is defined as a state of mental and physical exhaustion. The term ‘burnout’ was coined in 1974 by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. Sufferers from burnout typically feel disengaged and have little energy to do anything more.
Burnout is usually associated with work. It can be caused by an overwhelming workload, a perceived lack of control at work, or even the lack of proper recognition at the workplace.
If left unchecked, burnout can lead to more serious mental health conditions and can even increase your physical vulnerability to illnesses and infections.
Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
Because burnout happens gradually, it may be hard to spot until you’re struggling to get out of bed every day and dread starting work at the office. Common signs of burnout include:
- Exhaustion: Burnout can cause both physical and emotional exhaustion. Common physical symptoms of burnout include headaches, changes in appetite, stomach aches and insomnia. Emotionally, you may also feel dissatisfied, unmotivated and experience a sense of helplessness when it comes to work-related tasks.
- Apathy at work: When you’re burnt out at work, you may start to care less about your job responsibilities. You begin to grow detached from work and may become emotionally distanced from your colleagues.
- Reduced performance: Burnout doesn’t just stop at work. It may lead to you being unable to concentrate or carry out everyday tasks in your personal life as well. When you’re suffering from burnout, you feel negative about everything. This may cause you to slip and make mistakes in any tasks you need to do.
How to Recover from Burnout at Work
Dealing with burnout from work takes time.
The first step towards recovering is simply recognising that you’re feeling burnt out. If any of the above symptoms resonate with you, try these tips to prevent burnout from worsening.
Reach out to loved ones for support. Speaking to a close friend about your struggles can help to lighten your burden. They may also provide new insights into your situation, which can lead to a solution.
Another way of preventing burnout at work is to develop friendships with your colleagues. Having good relationships with your co-workers can help you feel less alone at the workplace – and it never hurts to have someone you can share inside jokes at work with!
Be kind to yourself
When we’re burnt out, we may feel frustrated at everything – especially ourselves.
Give yourself a break. Pushing yourself to work harder may be counterproductive. Take some time off for your favourite hobbies or try out a new activity you’ve always wanted to do. Celebrate little wins – no matter how small!
While change typically doesn’t happen overnight, don’t give up. Be intentional when carving out regular pockets of time to switch off from work. Practising self-love also means adopting a healthy lifestyle, including eating well, moving more and getting enough sleep. It’s also good to learn stress management techniques to help you cope with stressors that may come your way.
Take time for self-reflection
If you’re feeling burnt out at work, it could be due to a misalignment of your values with your responsibilities at work. Disconnect between your beliefs and your job could leave you feeling unfulfilled, which eventually grows into apathy and job burnout.
Spend time to reflect on your goals, aspirations and dreams, and compare them against what you’re currently doing. Other useful questions to ask yourself are:
- Is your job helping you achieve your personal goals?
- Do you feel that you’re growing at work?
- Do you feel like you’re handling too much at work?
Based on your answers, it could be time for a conversation with your manager to see how you can address these issues.
You should also list down all the commitments you have, whether they’re personal or work-related. Seeing everything written down helps you to start prioritising what’s most important to you. Learn to set boundaries and limits to the tasks you take on, so that you don’t end up over-working yourself. Maintaining work-life balance is key to sustaining a healthy work environment for yourself.
Preventing burnout and recovering from chronic stress is a lengthy process. Be patient with yourself and use this as an opportunity to adjust your current lifestyle for the better.
If you find that you’re unable to cope by yourself, reach out to any of our mental health experts for online consultations over the DA app. Let our dedicated team of doctors render you support and help you overcome any challenges that you may be facing.