It’s December, which means many of us are scrambling to finish up those end-of-year projects before (hopefully) taking a little time to rest and recharge before starting the new year. Given that Covid made the past couple of years particularly challenging, I’ve written a lot recently about how the pandemic is leading people to reevaluate their relationship with work. As a result, workers are leaving their jobs in record numbers. Many of these quits come from self-reported poor treatment from employers, but another sinister root cause is burnout.
According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is a specific type of work-related stress where an individual is not only physically or emotionally exhausted, but also experiencing a reduced sense of accomplishment and a loss of personal identity. Earlier this year, Forbes published a piece on burnout highlighting a study by job aggregator Indeed, which surveyed U.S. workers across age groups, experience levels and industry sectors on burnout and its effects. They discovered that burnout is not only high, but also on the rise. In 2021, over half of respondents said they’re actively experiencing burnout. Most Millennials were experiencing it prior to the pandemic, but now nearly 60 percent of both Millennials and Gen Z report that they’ve been burned out for months, and that the pandemic has only worsened the situation.
Have you been struggling at work? Feeling overwhelmed by stress and less like your typical self? Here are four signs you may be dealing with burnout.
1. You Feel Like You've Lost Control
While most of us deal with workplace stress in some capacity, if you feel like each day is spinning out of control without a slowdown in sight, you may be burning out. Situations like an untenable workload, unclear expectations from managers, an unreasonable working schedule or a lack of necessary resources can affect your sense of autonomy and accomplishment, impacting your mental health and diminishing your sense of purpose.
2. Your Work and Personal Lives Lack Balance
If work is taking up so much of your time that you can’t create space for important people and things in your life, both your personal and professional lives will suffer as a result. Employee mental health is vital, and a big part of maintaining it comes from taking enough time away from our daily responsibilities. If you feel that you don’t have time to be present for your loved ones or explore interests outside work, you may end up feeling unfulfilled, resentful or depressed as a result.
3. You Have a Dysfunctional Team or Manager
Ideally, your manager and team members are collaborative, understanding and willing to help solve problems. However, not everyone enjoys this kind of workplace culture, especially if leaders lack empathy or workers feel undermined, micromanaged or generally unappreciated. This kind of work environment can cause stress to skyrocket, leaving you drained and exhausted. Teams in these situations will perform worse as a result, as compassionate leadership goes a long way in terms of boosting the success of an organization.
4. You Feel Isolated
With the pandemic exacerbating feelings of isolation, many of us have dealt with a certain level of ongoing discomfort. However, these feelings can occur even when you’re surrounded by your colleagues. If you feel like you have no social support or connections to your coworkers, it’s nearly impossible to feel like you’re part of a cohesive team; healthy collaboration is necessary to do good work, even when it’s done remotely. If you find yourself feeling alone and like you don’t have adequate support, the resulting burnout and increased stress can be difficult to endure.
When facing burnout, be sure to share your concerns with colleagues and your manager. Ideally, you can figure out a solution that helps ease your burden and set the right goals to help you get back on track. Additionally, find out if your employer offers assistance programs or related services to support employee mental health. Mindfulness activities like meditation, adequate sleep, and more exercise can help deal with day-to-day stress. However, if you’re experiencing burnout and your manager or company consistently fails to meet your needs, seeking a new employer with a more employee-focused culture may be your best bet.
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