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Are you physically and mentally exhausted most of the time? Do you find it difficult to concentrate at the task at hand? Has your sleeping pattern or appetite changed? If so, there might be a chance you are suffering from job burnout.

What is the difference between stress and burnout?

Burnout is often used interchangeably with stress, yet stress is actually the first stage of a burnout. It is possible for burnout to develop following long episodes of stress. According to Kandi Weins, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is what allows us to keep our stress under control and prevent burnout. It helps us understand the sources of our emotions, which in turn enables us to consider different responses. EI is what allows us to stay calm and channel our emotions into problem-solving than letting them affect us negatively.

So what causes burnout and who is more prone to it? In her book ‘The Truth about Burnout’, Christina Maslech identified six ‘mismatches’ that make a person burnout.

  • Lack of control: “Control problems occur when workers have insufficient authority over their work or are unable to shape the work environment to be consistent with their values,” Maslech says.
  • Insufficient rewards: Rewards can be monetary (salary/bonuses), intrinsic (the feeling of doing a good job) and social (recognition for what you do).
  • Work overload: If there is too much work and not enough time, or the task at hand is too difficult, an individual is likely to burnout after a while.
  • Conflict of values: Believing in what you do and the reason why you do it, is crucial. If the work does not provide any meaning, this may lead you to become demotivated and exhausted.
  • Not being part of a community: Employees are happier and more productive when they work within a team they feel they belong to.
  • Unfairness: Feeling disrespected or believing that promotions and roles are given unfairly is also linked to burnout.

Unfortunately, suffering from burnout may have long-term effects. According to a study by Armita Golkar, burnout can change neural circuits , which make it more difficult to cope with emotional situations in future. Physically, burnout causes the amygdala, a part of the brain dealing with fear and aggression, to be enlarged making the person more vulnerable to depressive symptoms.

We tend to prefer to perceive the glass as being half full.

So, here are some tips on how to overcome burnout.

  • Make sure to sleep enough, to eat healthy and to keep hydrated. It sounds simple, but these are the most basic steps to keep you functioning well.
  • Do not create your own stress: It is perfectly understandable to be stressed when faced with life’s challenges. However, try not to self-inflict this stress. Avoid episodes of unnecessary worry over actions that are not within your control, and verbalise your thoughts and concerns when you feel that you can not take on more.
  • Practise mindfulness techniques: Simple mindfulness exercises on a regular basis can help improve mental and physical health.
  • Know when to ask for help: Do not be afraid to seek help, be it for a task that you are finding difficult to manage at work, or seeking better work life balance at home. Asking for help shows strength rather than weakness.

Did you find this interesting? You might want to read:

The Benefits of Happy Employees

Monday is for Sick Leave

Why people get stuck in boring careers