We’ve all heard the expression about how “having too much of a good thing” is bad for you, well, it certainly applies to work. If you overdo work, and you’re always on full-speed, you’re going to burn out at some point. After all, our body is like a machine. A machine cannot keep constantly going without being maintained, and neither can our bodies. If we keep pushing it, without respite, then something’s going to give. Tenacity and dedication are excellent qualities to have, but when you “power through” work, and ignore any warning signs that your body wants a rest, then trouble may be brewing in the form of burnout.
What’s burnout? Burnout is physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that is a result of prolonged stress, frustration, and over work. It is often a gradual process and can eventually lead to loss of motivation and a detachment from work and relationships. If you’re experiencing the following, it might be burnout:
Burnout exhaustion comes in mental, physical, and emotional forms. Everything seems too much effort, all you want to do is rest, and you feel constantly drained. You may be looking for shortcuts in your work, cutting corners just to get the job done, or procrastinating. The idea of going back to work, or starting a new project, which you may previously have enjoyed, seems overwhelming or unexciting. This can all lead to more sick days. They could be genuine as your body is desperate for the rest and has had enough, or they could be because you can’t face work.
Loss of confidence and shame
You may no longer feel positive or excited for the future and feel a loss of confidence in both your current workability and your future. This attitude often spirals, and those experiencing burnout may start to discount past achievements. You may feel like you are incompetent and unable to complete tasks that would have otherwise been second-nature to you, and feel vulnerable and confused about this sudden mental shift. Due to feeling so exhausted and drained, your productivity at work will likely reduce, and this may leave you feeling ashamed, guilty, or in doubt as to whether you were ever good enough for the job in the first place.
This low mood and feeling of unworthiness may lead you to start pushing other people away. You don’t want to have to deal with them on top of a workload that you’re already struggling with or not enjoying. Stress manifests into frustration and anger, and you may start to become abrasive, insensitive, and antisocial towards others. Suspicion and mistrust of others often develop during a burnout, which will only exacerbate your negativity towards them. What’s more, you may no longer feel a sense of accomplishment or pride for the work you’ve completed.
You may feel unsure what to do during a burnout — should you change jobs or should you stay? You feel neither option is good, but you feel stuck in your current situation; you feel hopeless. You will become more sensitive to other people’s remarks, slights, or even the way they look at you. Everything can become overwhelming and personal. You may recognize that this isn’t logical, but you don’t know how to change how you feel.
All this is understandable when the job you previously loved and enjoyed is now a burden. Perhaps it doesn’t make much sense to you either — why have you suddenly stopped wanting to do work? Why is it no longer exciting or enjoyable? This confusion can add to the sense of failure, or helplessness, and you may ask yourself where you went wrong to end up like this. The simple answer to that would be you did too much. Even if you enjoy your work, respect your body’s limitations, and know your boundaries.