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Breaking Point: Recognising Burnout

Burnout is frequently misunderstood and stigmatised, and although it is usually associated with employment, it can happen to anyone who feels unappreciated and overworked.

This includes individuals in employment as well as those in unofficial caring roles, such as, those caring for elderly relatives or a mum looking after children.

Burnout is not classed as a medical diagnosis but in 2019 it was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a work-related problem.

It is normal to have some days when we find it more difficult to cope than others. Days where we feel tired and can’t really be bothered. When this is happening everyday then you could be experiencing Burnout.

Burnout happens over time but frequently the warning signs are overlooked, giving the appearance that it has developed suddenly. Being aware of the warning signs is crucial to its prevention and limiting the effects.

Signs of Burnout can be:

  • Tiredness and lacking energy to complete tasks.

  • Experiencing feelings of helplessness and disillusionment.

  • Feeling trapped and feeling that nothing will improve the situation.

  • Feeling negative, cynical, and critical about work.

  • Experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed.

  • Experiencing self-doubt.

  • Procrastination.

  • Experiencing irritability and impatience at work which can extend to other areas of your life.

  • Poor concentration.

  • Lack of job satisfaction.

  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol as relaxation from work.

  • Changes in sleep habits.

  • Experiencing unexplained headaches, stomach problems, or other physical issues.

  • Low immunity to infection.

There are some factors that can increase the risk of Burnout, such as

  • Having little or no control over your work, for example, lack of resources or lack of manpower.

  • Struggling to maintain a work-life balance.

  • Having a heavy workload, working long hours, or having unrealistic responsibilities.

Other factors also increase the risk of Burnout, such as, our personality and our lifestyle.

Being a perfectionist, having a pessimistic outlook and needing to be in control can all contribute to Burnout. Lifestyle factors, such as, lack of sleep, lack of emotional support, limited relaxation and social time can also be contributing factors.

2020 saw a complete change in our lives with the start of the pandemic. For many this meant caring for children at home as schools and childcare facilities were closed. Family members who often cared for children were inaccessible due to social distancing. Many individuals worked from home, and for some, they have continued with home based working post lockdown.

The use of mobile phones, emails and social media means that many of us are easily accessible to work, allowing us to extend the working day into our homelife.

All of this enables the lines between work and homelife to become blurred and the working day to be increased. It is all too easy for work/life balance to become out of sync.

Burnout should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Some individuals are more prone to it than others and some professions carry a higher risk of Burnout.

Checkout my blog, ‘Tips to help Combat Burnout’ so you can put strategies in place to help prevent Burnout and reduce your risk.


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