Burnout is physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes toward oneself and others. It results from performing at a high level, until stress and tension, especially from extreme and prolonged physical or mental exertion or an overburdening workload, take their toll.

Burnout is not a medical condition; it is a syndrome with symptoms or signs that are related to physical and mental health. Burnout occurs when an individual experiences long-term stress in their work environment.

Burnout is not something that goes away on its own; when it is not identified or addressed, the signs of burnout worsen. Some people do know something is wrong but are in denial about addressing the issue. If the individual ignores the signs or symptoms of burnout, it can harm their physical and mental health. The person has no energy or potential to effectively fulfill the demands of the job.

The signs of burnout are
  • Feeling physically drained out
  • Feeling emotionally tired and drained out
  • Feeling helpless or trapped
  • Feeling detached, alone, or numb
  • Pessimistic outlook on everything
  • Procrastinating
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Self-doubt or low self-esteem
  • Easily distracted
  • Emotional outburst
  • Anxiety
Difference between stress and burnout
Stress Burnout
Loss of energy Loss of motivation
Overly involved in work Disengaged with work
Sudden emotional outburst Feeling numb
Feeling urgency Feeling hopeless & helpless
 Causes of burnout
  • Unreasonable load of work
  • The occupational expectation doesn’t match the individual’s capacity.
  • Perceived lack of control
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic needs of a person are not met in the job environment.
  • Social isolation, loneliness, or lack of social support.
  • The individual values mismatch the work values.
  • Unfairness and uncertainties in the work environment.
  • Overworking with low compensation and benefits
  • Toxic work place
  • Work with a challenging boss.
  • Struggle to strike a balance between personal and professional life.
  • Issues with colleagues
Dealing with burnout

Seek social support.

  • Reach out to your close circle of people to confide.
  • Take small steps to engage in general conversation with your colleagues.
  • Limit your contact with negative people.

Set your priorities.

  • Set boundaries between personal and professional life.
  • Take out time for yourself.
  • Priorities include your mental and physical health.
  • Be assertive and learn to say no when you are asked to do things on your own time.
  • In every area of work, set your priorities. You can use the important urgent matrix.

Workouts and healthy diets

  • Every day, take time out to work out or go for a walk for at least 20 minutes.
  • Plan your diet.
  • Try to sleep for 7–8 hours.

Equip yourself with different skill sets to manage burnout and stress.

  • Assertive skills
  • Interpersonal and intrapersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Time management
  • Personal effectiveness

Exploring alternative ways and options

In situations where your interests and values don’t align with your work environment at the same time, you need to work. You can look out for alternate opportunities to fulfill your unmet needs in life. Plan and make small goals to take one thing at a time and make progress. Take a break when needed.

Some more things you could do are:

  • Get professional help.
  • Let your social support system know how you are feeling and dealing.
  • Self-care
  • Self-awareness to know your level of stress.
  • Journaling




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