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Burnout at in life and at work could present one of the biggest health challenges for everyone, and an even bigger threat as we try to live and adjust post-pandemic.

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “A state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

Burnout impacts nearly half of all workers, and researchers at Stanford found that workplace stress costs businesses nearly $200 billion annually and leads to nearly 120,000 deaths each year. So where does it come from? Chronic burnout is usually the end result of years of unchecked and unmanaged chronic stress.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you answer yes to any of these questions, there’s a good chance you might be suffering from burnout. If you answer yes to most or all, then maybe it’s time to take it more seriously, for the sake of your health:

• Have you become cynical or critical at work?
• Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
• Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
• Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
• Do you find it hard to concentrate?
• Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
• Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
• Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
• Have your sleep habits changed?
• Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

What’s Causing Burnout?
A survey of 7,500 full-time employees by Gallup found the top five reasons for burnout are:


Unfair Treatment At Work

When employees strongly agree that they are often treated unfairly at work, they are 2.3 times more likely to experience a high level of burnout.

Unmanageable Workload

In sports psychology, coaches use the term “mental quicksand” to describe how moments of poor performance can cause athletes to feel overwhelmed. This leads to further poor performance and damage to their confidence that continues to drag them down.

Lack Of Role Clarity

only 60% of workers can strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. When accountability and expectations are moving targets, employees can become exhausted just trying to figure out what people want from them.

Lack Of Communication And Support From Their Manager

Manager support and frequent communication provide a psychological buffer, so employees know that even if something goes wrong, their manager has their back. Employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are about 70% less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis.

Unreasonable Time Pressure

When employees say they often or always have enough time to do all of their work, they are 70% less likely to experience high burnout. Unreasonable deadlines and pressure can create a snowball effect — when employees miss one overly aggressive deadline, they fall behind on the next thing they are scheduled to do.

Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job.” Gallup

How Can You Reduce Your Own Burnout?

Psychology Today, the publication of the American Psychiatry Association, suggests the following:

• Increase your self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is having the belief in your own ability to accomplish (and exercise control over) personally meaningful goals and tasks.

• Identify what you really need from your job. Do you like the company, do you respect it, do you have shared values, do you believe in the mission?

• Explore more creative outlets, to give your brain a break and help you to rewire and reset.

• Take better care of yourself, physically and emotionally. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first when that makes the most sense.

• Get support. That can be at work, through family and friends, or increasing your social connections. Greater social connections are known to be great for happiness too, and greater happiness is known to make work less stressful.

• Increase your diet of positive emotions. Studies show that increasing your diet of positive emotion builds your resilience, creativity, and ability to be solution-focused, things that are in short supply if you feel like you’re burning out.

Other recommendations include:

• Exercise
• Rest and sleep
• More organized fun and laughter
• Better work/life balance
• More realistic self-expectations.
• Accepting the things that are beyond your control.
• Learning to just say no.
• Mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing.

“If you want to prevent burnout while you’re in a situation you have no control over, find the things that you do have control over – and control them.”
Robert L. Bogue, co-author of “Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery.”


The Five Stages Of Burnout

Tania Diggory, founder of Calmer, believes that burnout can be divided into five different stages, each with its own characteristics:


When we undertake a new task, we often start by experiencing high job satisfaction, commitment, energy, and creativity. This is especially true of a new job role, or the beginnings of a business venture.

In this first phase of burnout, you may begin to experience predicted stresses of the job.


The second stage of burnout begins with an awareness of some days being more difficult than others. You may find your optimism waning, as well as notice common stress symptoms affecting you physically, mentally, or emotionally.


The third stage of burnout is chronic stress. This is a marked change in your stress levels, going from motivation, to experiencing stress on an incredibly frequent basis. You may also experience more intense symptoms than those of stage two.


Entering stage four of burnout is where symptoms become critical. When burnout is talked about more generally, this is the stage that is often referred to. Continuing as normal is often not possible, and it’s key that you seek intervention.


The final stage of burnout is habitual burnout. This means that the symptoms of burnout are so embedded in your life that you are likely to experience a significant physical or emotional problem, as opposed to occasionally experiencing stress or burnout.