Signs you may be burnt out

Published April 20, 2014

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The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by Herbert Freudenberger, an American psychologist. It was first used to describe the consequences of severe stress on people working in ‘helping professions’, such as doctors or nurses. Today, burnout is known to affect people from all walks of life, including housewives and overworked employees.1 Burnout can also affect caregivers if they don’t get the help and support they need.2 People suffering from burnout are chronically stressed, and experience both physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and withdrawal or detachment.3

Job burnout can be caused by several factors. The most obvious of these is work‐life imbalance, where your job takes up so much of your time and energy that you are unable to spend quality time with family and friends. A job that is monotonous or always extremely stressful can also sap your energy and lead to burnout. Other possible causes include a lack of control in your work, unclear expectations and a lack of social support both at work and in your personal life.4
Signs that you may be suffering from burnout may include:2

  • Feeling helpless, sad, irritable or hopeless.
  • Changes in sleep patterns (either insomnia or sleeping too much)
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Changes in weight and/or appetite
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and feel that you may be suffering from burnout, speak to your healthcare professional. They will be able to rule out other causes and help you to develop a plan to reduce your stress levels.

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