Understanding Burnout Syndrome

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If the mere thought of coming home and plopping on the couch for at least a week seems like a brilliant plan, you might be teetering on the edge of burnout.

This debilitating state can be diagnosed by a medical professional and it’s important to avoid it as it has a direct impact on your health. But what exactly is burnout? And, more importantly, what are its symptoms and causes?

Understanding Burnout


Burnout, or work-induced exhaustion is a state of physical and psychological problem. It’s characterized by a loss of interest in work, a buildup of negative emotions and even physical illnesses that gradually manifest over time.

Initially, these symptoms may only show up in the workplace, with a lack of enthusiasm, apathy, loss of motivation and even hostility towards colleagues. However, if left untreated, burnout can seep into your personal life as well.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized burnout as a disease and added it to the International Classification of Diseases in 2019.

Symptoms of Burnout


There are several effects that manifest when a person experiences burnout. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  1. Irritability: You become more irritable and sensitive when things don’t go as expected. Moodiness and anger are quick to surface.
  2. Decreased Performance: Your work performance starts to fall below expectations. Tasks pile up and you struggle to complete essential assignments. You may resort to unconvincing excuses.
  3. Aggressive Behavior: When things don’t go as planned, your behavior becomes more aggressive.
  4. Lack of Concentration: Inability to focus on a task for an extended period. You’ll find any excuse to avoid work and engage in other activities.
  5. Low Self-esteem and Lack of Personal Fulfillment: Intrusive negative thoughts about yourself or your performance, lack of personal satisfaction and a constant sense of failure in everything you do.
  6. Constant Exhaustion: Fatigue, low energy, sleep disturbances, mental and physical tiredness.
  7. Skin Disorders or Illnesses: The manifestation of certain skin problems or wounds. It can also weaken the immune system, leading to illnesses, headaches, chronic fatigue or digestive problems.
  8. Social Isolation: Reduced communication with colleagues or superiors. You begin to withdraw and detach from others. Apathy, a lack of motivation to share and a desire to be alone.

The intensity of these symptoms varies for each individual, as not everyone experiences them in the same context. Specific personal circumstances can make the symptoms persist over time.

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Causes of Burnout


Now that we understand what burnout is and how to recognize its symptoms, let’s explore some of the causes behind it. The following factors contribute to burnout:

  1. Work-related Factors: High levels of demands, long working hours, constant control by superiors, unrealistic expectations, lack of recognition, and inadequate rewards despite the effort exerted.
  2. Monotonous and Repetitive Tasks: Lack of challenges, limited opportunities, or a sense of stagnation.
  3. Organizational Factors: Poor leadership management, lack of communication, vague roles and responsibilities, and an imbalance between personal and work life.
  4. Individual Factors: Personal traits also contribute to burnout. Being overly perfectionistic, having excessively high expectations, inability to separate work from personal life, leading to working at odd hours or an inability to cope with stress.
  5. Lack of Alignment with Corporate Culture: Misalignment between personal values and
    corporate values or even the nature of the work itself. This can create significant dissonance and contribute to burnout.
  6. Lack of Support Network: Not finding support from friends or family can lead to a sense of isolation, exacerbating stress and work-related exhaustion.
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How to Prevent Burnout Symptoms?


Ideally, you should take steps to transform your situation as soon as possible to avoid reaching the breaking point. There are certain activities that can help you manage your burnout levels effectively:

  1. Set Boundaries: The key is learning to set boundaries in all aspects of life. Identify how far you can go without overcommitting yourself, whether it’s at work, in relationships, with family, friends, or even with yourself. For example, engaging in assertive communication with your supervisor to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
  2. Engage in Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins that help clear your mind. As an added benefit, it will tire you out and help you get optimal rest.
  3. Practice Mindful Activities: Activities such as meditation, yoga, and active mindfulness can help reduce stress levels. Listen to your body and make time for relaxing.
  4. Prioritize Sleep Routine: Consistency in sleep hours is crucial. If you experience work-related stress during the day and fail to meet your sleep requirements at night, it can lead to significant problems.
  5. Seek Support: Being accompanied and supported by your close circle of friends and family, not keeping all your problems to yourself, and seeking solutions together is essential. Don’t underestimate the assistance of a professional if needed.

Work-related exhaustion syndrome is highly prevalent in today’s ever-changing and uncertain work environments. The feeling of burnout can induce stress, which, if left untreated, can have consequences in your personal life.

Remember, taking proactive steps to prevent burnout and prioritizing your well-being is crucial for keeping a healthy work-life balance. By recognizing the symptoms and addressing the underlying causes, you can navigate through challenges with resilience and preserve your overall well-being.

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