GUEST POST: Mitali Shukla - Warning signs of workplace burnout and how to combat them
Updated: Jul 25
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When stress meets exhaustion, many find that they’re experiencing burnout – especially at work. As the focus of mental health initiatives in the workplace, burnout is growing increasingly prevalent. The textbook definition of burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that can be the result of prolonged and excessive stress.
While burnout can affect those working in all industries, one field with some of the highest rates of burnout is the tech industry. In fact, studies show that 68% of tech workers feel more burnt out than they did when they worked at the office. No matter the industry you work in, we’ve provided some practical tools to help overcome burnout and prevent it from occurring in the future.
What is burnout?
Burnout isn’t a medical diagnosis, but an accumulation of symptoms. If you’re worried about your mental health, it’s highly advised to reach out to your primary care provider or a mental health professional to help you mitigate the symptoms of mental illness like anxiety or depression.
Warning signs of burnout
For those who may be feeling burnout but unable to pinpoint what it looks like, below are some warning signs of burnout to look out for and ultimately stop burnout in its tracks.
Self-doubt and/or low self-esteem
Reduced performance at work or other hobbies
Emotional or physical fatigue
Little to no motivation for any tasks
Lack of enjoyment in activities that generally bring you joy
Increased sick days at work
Isolating oneself or experiencing cynicism
Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
How to combat work-related burnout
If the culprit of your burnout is your job, there are several measures employees can take to mitigate burnout and prevent it from occurring in the future with the right self-care practices. It’s important to note that these strategies are not a substitute for getting support for your mental health from a professional, but can help you curb the symptoms of burnout while you determine your next steps.
Start setting some boundaries
Boundaries in the context of mental health are setting limits or rules that help preserve one’s well-being. For those who tend to take on more than they can handle, this can be an instrumental strategy in limiting stress from too much work.
Tip: Try communicating with your employer that you’re only available to respond to messages or emails during work hours, but not past that. This can prevent overworking by setting a clear boundary between what you’re able to do.
Take some time off
Full-time employees benefit from being able to have paid time off, but taking time away from work can actually help you be more productive and efficient since you’re less likely to be burnt out from overworking. In fact, the average U.S. employee took only 54% of their eligible vacation in the past year. It’s no surprise that Americans have a habit of working too much, which can result in feelings of burnout.
Tip: When you do take your time off, make sure to completely disconnect from work matters. Refrain from checking emails and make sure someone is able to cover your responsibilities so you don’t feel overwhelmed when you return.
Reach out to your support system
Reaching out to the people who can support you during difficult times can make a huge difference. Meeting with your manager to reassess your work responsibilities and see if you can change deadlines or even your schedule entirely is a great place to start. It’s also worth getting in touch with a therapist to help you create better habits and coping strategies for stress and burnout.
Tip: When experiencing burnout, it can be tempting to isolate yourself. However, communicating with those that care for you like close friends or family members can help you cement your support system and keep you accountable when it comes to not overworking.
Breaking the cycle of burnout once and for all
Identifying the issue of burnout is the first step to remedying its effects. While the above tactics can help you reduce the effects of it, truly breaking the burnout cycle will take time and effort — but it’s well worth it. The long-term effects of burnout can be taxing, so make sure to utilize resources to help you stay healthy and support your mental wellbeing. For more on tech burnout, check out this infographic from AngelList.
Mitali Shukla is a junior content marketing specialist at Siege Media. Based out of Southern California, she has a passion for creating high-quality content across industries from startups to human resources. She earned a dual-degree from Chapman University in Strategic & Corporate Communication and Sociology. For more, visit her website.