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Understanding And Avoiding Burnout

Does the thought of coming to work make you feel exhausted and drained of energy? Do you sometimes feel mentally distanced from your job? Do negative thoughts about your occupation flood your mind from time to time? Have you, at any point, felt that you are not efficient or not effective enough in your role? If you have such experiences, then you may be going through an occupational burnout.

Occupational burnout is a phenomenon experienced by many people. Gallup’s study involving 7,500 employees showed that 23% of the workers always felt burning out by their job. On top of the 23% that always felt burned out, another 44% felt burned out sometimes.

The World Health Organisation does not view burnout as a medical diagnosis but rather an occupational experience caused by unmanaged stress from the workplace.

You can prevent burnout even before it happens. However, you need to know the red flags associated with burnout to avoid it in time. In this article, we will try to distinguish burnout from depression and stress. It will also look into how burnout creeps into the job, its causes, and how it can be managed.

How Is Burnout Different From Stress And Depression?


Stress and burnout are similar, but when the stress becomes unbearable, it can lead to burnout. Some instances of stress in the workplace result from unanticipated emergencies, system failures, or just a long workday. Stress can be easily managed, and you will have enough recovery time to resume your usual work duties.


If you fail to manage the conditions associated with chronic stress, they might eventually lead to burnout. Here are some chronic conditions that may lead to job burn out if left unaddressed:

Too Much Workload

Taking on a cumbersome workload is unhealthy and stressful, especially if your seniors expect you to do it diligently without complaining. Too much workload is the number one contender for causes of burnout.  


People with a perfectionist nature or personality often criticise themselves. While self-criticism is good, too much of it can be harmful. Setting unrealistic standards and constant self-criticism is bad for mental health.

Unreasonable Deadlines

The pressure to meet deadlines can sometimes be overwhelming to the point of giving up.

Support System

Employees need to have a support system outside and within their job. Support in and out of the workplace is vital because it gives the employees a venting platform. Workers need to feel like their jobs matter and not ignored. If an employee feels isolated in their personal life and at the workplace, they are likely to be more stressed.

A Disparity In Personal Life And Work-Life

Employees need to have a proper balance in their personal life and work-life to avoid burnout. Having a life away from the office or workplace is suitable for recovery and reflection.

A Day Job That Does Not Bring Fulfillment

A job that gives workers a sense of fulfilment is less likely to cause burnout.


Generally, burnout is confined to work and work-like situations. Depression, on the other hand, affects all the facets of life. Depression gives you deeper feelings of hopelessness and exhaustion. Depression can take the joy out of all the things that made you happy and turn you into a lethargic, cynical, and pessimistic person culminating in mental shutdown. Unlike burnout, depression is a medical condition that requires mental health assistance.

Get in touch with your doctor if you feel depressed or take a look at this webpage: NIMH Help For Mental Illness.

How Do You Tell If You Are Edging Closer To Burnout?

The symptoms of burnout can manifest themselves in other ways apart from the ones this article mentions. Other symptoms of exhaustion to look out for are:

– Poor concentration

– Physical symptoms – high blood pressure, headaches, stomach issues, persistently feeling sick or unexplainable body aches

– Frequent drug use to escape reality

– Eating too little or too much

– Too much sleep or having none at all

– Lashing out at people for no reason

Once you know what causes your emotional and mental issues, you will have made a big step towards addressing and managing your overall wellbeing.

How To Address And Control Burnout

Here are some ways in which you can manage work-related signs of burnout:

Take some time off – As crazy as it sounds, research shows that 54% of employees in the United Kingdom feel guilty about taking some time off. Because the UK is a “no vacation nation,” you can understand where the guilt of taking vacation time is coming from. Self-employed and people working under contract basis feel more pressure to keep working even when they need some time off. 

Recommendation: No matter what type of job you do, you need some time off from time to time.

1. Open up to someone

Talking to someone you know like a family member or a close friend is a good way of taking troubling issues off your chest. As one of the most common adages says, a problem shared is a problem half solved.

2. Assess your options and priorities

Evaluate the things that matter to you. In your evaluation, highlight the resources and options you have and how they can help you fulfil your priorities. In the future, you can prevent burnout by letting go of perfectionism and establishing support and communication protocols with your peers and seniors.

3. Establish boundaries

Set acceptable limits in the way other people behave towards us. Setting standards will help us realise that how good we feel about ourselves does not depend on how others feel about us.

4. Exercise more often

Frequently engaging yourself in physical activities can help you cope with stress. Try to participate in some sports to keep you from thinking or worrying about work.

5. Get some relaxation from time to time

Engage yourself in relaxing activities like tai chi, meditation, or yoga. Relaxing activities can help put your mind at ease and alleviate stress.

6. Look after yourself

Now that you are aware of burnout symptoms, try staying clear off whatever caused you to burn out. If the burnout symptoms start showing up again, seek medical attention before the problem blows out of proportion.


Burnout does not necessarily have to be job-related.

In a 1974 book dubbed Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement, Herbert Freudenberger speaks in length about burnout. He describes burnout as the extinction of drive or what motivates people, or incentive, especially where one’s commitment to a relationship or cause fails to produce the desired result. From this description, people who feel exploited and underrated risk getting burnouts. Looking after a sick person and parenting can also lead to burnout. The symptoms involved are similar to the ones mentioned here. They can be addressed and managed similarly, too!

Being aware of harmful personal traits allows us to acknowledge and address the root causes of those issues.

Have you ever felt burned out? How did you control it? You can share your experience in the comments.


Anton Psak


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