Burnout: it’s that moment when you mentally and emotionally hit a wall at work. The more you try to ignore that wall, the worse everything becomes—your job performance nose-dives. Your mental health wears down. You may even find yourself developing physical symptoms like panic attacks, headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia.
What causes burnout, and how can you avoid it?
Leading Causes of Burnout
The World Health Organization defines burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” caused by continual and unrelieved high-stress levels at work. This is compounded by failing to create healthy boundaries and learning how to say “no” when needed. (Healthline points out that burnout can happen to full-time parents as well, as caring for a young child around the clock seven days a week is like being on the job nonstop.)
Brit & Co identifies seven work personality types that are prone to burnout:
- The Competitor: The one willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
- The Taskmaster: The one highly focused on doing.
- The Perfectionist: The one who is never satisfied with his own work.
- The People-Pleaser: The one who craves approval.
- The Overachiever: The one who thinks more is better.
- The Micro-Manager: The one who trusts no one but themselves.
- The Ruminator: The one who can’t stop thinking about work.
This uninterrupted stress can wreak havoc on your health, leading to fatigue, disinterest in both your work and personal lives, a desire to isolate yourself, and irritability. You may find yourself getting lost in escapism fantasies. As your immune system is worn down, you may find yourself getting sick much more frequently than usual.
How to Avoid Burnout
The most important element of avoiding — and recovering from — occupational burnout is making time for self-care. Attend to the basics: eat a good diet, practice healthy sleep habits, and exercise. Even if you don’t have time to spend hours at the gym, a brisk 30-minute walk or a 15-minute high-intensity interval training workout is all you need to boost your mood and your overall health.
It would help if you had a creative outlet. Do you like to write? Sculpt? Paint? Play the piano? Play golf? Make time to indulge in these. You’re a human being, not a robot designed to work, work, work.
Learning how to say “no” at work is also very important. Harvard Business Review recommends that when you’re asked to take on more work, evaluate whether you can reasonably shoulder the extra workload while performing well at your current tasks. If you can’t, give a firm and neutral “no” accompanied by an honest explanation. Most people want to be team players, and that’s good; however, if taking on extra work causes other areas of your work and personal life to suffer, it isn’t worth it.