3 Tips for dealing with Professional Burnout

Dillon Welliver, LMHC, MCAP, ACS, BC-TMH on Sep 24, 2019 in Life Transition

Professional Burnout refers to the physical and emotional exhaustion that occurs as a result of chronic, work-related stress. Today, rates of burnout are higher than ever. A recent study of 7,500 full-time employees in the USA indicated 23% reported feeling frequent or constant burnout, while 44% reported feeling burnout sometimes.

It is important to know that “burnout” is not a medical diagnosis, but it is a life condition that can be linked to physical and mental health impairment. Often this experience is also called a midlife crisis or an existential crisis.

Unsurprisingly, the effects of burnout are not left at the office. Burnout affects family life, social relationships, and physical and mental health. If you think you may be suffering from burnout, it is important to take steps to get your life back into balance.

Signs of burnout

  • Chronic fatigue/exhaustion
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Increased vulnerability to immune-related illness
  • Wondering why you feel so empty and unfulfilled
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better
  • Anxiety/depression/irritability
  • Lack of satisfaction in achievements
  • Feeling disillusioned with your job
  • Factors that increase the risk of burnout

One of the biggest factors in burnout is perceived level of control. An early study investigating burnout indicated that the perception of uncontrollability was linked to depression. Unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, and unreasonable time pressures are also major factors that contribute to burnout.

What you can do

The above factors are related to the environment and policies of your workplace. However, there are some things you can control in relation to your risk of burnout. If possible:

Do not take your work home — leave it at the office. Make a commitment to think about other things and engage in non-work related activities when you are not at work.

Expand your interests — your work should not consume your entire life. Find and pursue hobbies that interest you. Develop friendships, spend time with loved ones. Make an effort to make pleasure a priority in your life.

Consider other options — if your job/career is causing burnout and you feel like your work conditions are preventing you from making the changes you need to make, consider either leaving the organization or changing professions. Often other opportunities exist, but we will not find them if we don’t even consider looking.

Therapy can help

Therapeutic sessions for professionals experiencing burnout will help relieve stress, and provide an objective view. Some research suggests that people experiencing symptoms of burnout do not believe that their jobs are the main cause of their distress. Often there are other underlying issues causing unhappiness and stress. Therapy will address all the aspects you may be dealing with to help you create a balanced and satisfying life. Existential therapy can also help you discover meaning and purpose in your life.

Dillon Welliver is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Tallahassee, FL.

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