The term burnout refers to a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion which is often accompanied by negative feelings and emotions such as cynicism, resentment, feeling like a failure and inadequacy to name but a few. Detachment from the responsibilities that you have in your place of work is often the result of prolonged periods of stress, overwhelming demands from work and others placing more responsibility upon you and a lack of awareness of how to implement coping mechanisms and set healthy boundaries which promote a healthy work life balance.
Individuals who experience burnout may exhibit reduced performance with notable changes in both behaviour and mood. Burnout can have detrimental effects on an individual's wellbeing, their job satisfaction and general ability to cope with the everyday pressures of the job. Proactive measures need to be already in place to prevent and address the severe impact that burnout can have.
Recognising the initial signs of burnout is crucial for maintaining well being and preventing the negative and often far reaching effects that it can have on both personal and professional life. It is not just the result of an excessive workload but more a complex and intricate blend of exhaustion.
A primary indicator of burnout is constant fatigue and exhaustion. Everyone has days when they feel worn out but this is different - it is a persistent occurrence and despite getting enough time to sleep or rest, energy levels are completely depleted. This often manifests as headaches, brain fog, aches and pains and feeling generally unwell with loss of motivation.
Once you have detached from your work, you may start to develop negative attitudes towards colleagues, your working environment, the role you undertake and even the organisation itself. This emotional distancing is a defense mechanism which the mind puts into place to try to cope with overwhelming stress.
Employees suffering from burnout will undoubtedly show a marked decline in productivity. Burnout can easily lead to a decrease in the quality of work, increased errors and difficulty in concentrating. Enthusiasm and passion for work which was once apparent, will diminish and leave in its place, emptiness and apathy.
Burnout has a negative impact on mental well being and once individuals start to question their own abilities, this will contribute to a rapid downward spiral of decreased self esteem and worth. It is also common to withdraw from social interactions with a noticeable change in personal habits.
Therefore it is extremely important to be able to recognise these early signs in either yourself or colleagues. Encourage open communication especially regarding mental health, stress and promote a culture of supporting one another within the workplace with careful consideration placed on distributing equal shares of workloads. These strategies can help to ensure that individuals are able to maintain their well being and be able to identify the warning signs in others.