5 Causes of Burnout and How to Avoid It

By: Megan Jones

Burnout is a result of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion and it can have detrimental effects on an individual. Although, in recent years this term has been coined in relation to common stress, burnout is real, important to discuss it, and how to avoid it. There are a myriad of factors that can attribute to burnout. Moreover, burnout affects numerous areas in your life. It does not solely reside in work, nor stay there, it can affect your personal life and relationships. If you are experiencing burnout or unsure, here are 5 causes of burnout and tips on how to avoid it.

What is burnout and its symptoms?

Burnout is state of dissatisfaction that triggers physical, mental, and emotional responses.[1] Burnout, has numerous symptoms and effects on the body.

Symptoms include:

  • Low Energy
  • Tiredness, Fatigue, Changes in Sleep
  • Headaches
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of Motivation

Effects of Burnout:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Decreased Immunity

Burnout, is not something to take lightly, and you should reflect if you resonate with the symptoms or causes of burnout.

5 Causes of Burnout

Difficult Workloads

Your workload may be dynamic and fluctuate throughout your career. Therefore, there may be times where your workload is increasingly more stressful. Now, this should not be your normal, however it is something that may happen from time to time.

How to Respond: If you are experiencing a difficult workload, take a moment to reflect on why you are feeling that way? Are you getting assigned too many tasks? Are your deadlines all conflicting or too quick? Is the material or project new and unfamiliar to you? Do you have the resources you need to get through your workload? Once you locate the reason(s) speak to your manager and set a boundary for your workload. Your manager should be accommodating to you and respect the boundaries you set.

Scarce Rewards

Not every project or completed assignment will lead to a reward. However, rewards are a reminder to you that your work is important and you are appreciated.

How to Respond: Reflect on the type of rewards that are most beneficial to you. It can be as simple as more feedback, or you may feel that you need higher compensation given what is expected and required of you. After you have reflected on how you would like to be supported, go to your manager and bring attention to how you are feeling and the potential solution.

Lack of Community

Company community and culture is essential to positive employee retention. If you don’t feel connected to your colleagues it may make you feel isolated and alone within your workspace. Moreover, having a connection with your colleagues allows you to feel supported and can make your place of work more enjoyable.

How to Respond: If you are feeling disconnected from your colleagues, consider joining an employee network to meet more colleagues with a similar interest. Additionally, you can ask to have lunch with someone, or to have a breaktime coffee. Moreover, when a colleague has an accomplishment send them a congratulatory email. These can all help you feel more connected to your colleagues.

Experiencing  a Toxic Environment

Whether it is a difficult manager, colleague, workload, or poor culture there are many things that can contribute to a toxic work environment. This can add an unnecessary stressor to your everyday workload.

How to Respond: If you are experiencing a difficult colleague, you can avoid additional conversations with them. Look for the colleagues or groups that bring joy to your workday and speak with them if you are going through a difficult situation or for support.  

Working with Unfair Expectations

In my experience, there are unfair managers and unfair departmental workloads. An unfair manager holds unrealistic expectations for you without providing resources or proper procedures. An unfair departmental workload can mean that the workload is unmanageable without the organization providing the resources to help keep the department afloat. Both are exceptionally difficult however, it is important to understand that sometimes the unfair expectations is from a broader scale rather than solely your manager.

How to Respond: You may have to balance being a team player and setting boundaries depending on the circumstance. Ask for resources and consider shadowing other colleagues to see if you can streamline your workload process.

Burnout is difficult and unfortunately, most resolutions start with you having to take initiative. That can feel overwhelming, however, the potential resolutions are worth having to take the extra step for support. Remember to check in with yourself and evaluate how you are feeling about your workload to ensure you are feeling positive about your workload and overall organization.


Information from this article can be found at: Indeed-9 Causes of Burnout


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