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December 1, 2022
Signs You’re Experiencing Work Burnout And Not Depression

Valia Tseliou

A woman sits at a table with a computer and notebook, staring expressionless into the distance.

Am I Depressed or Burned Out From My Job?

Burnout is on the rise, and research shows that the pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. While burnout does overlap with some depression symptoms, they are two distinct conditions. 

Signs of work burnout

The truth is, we have all experienced burnout at some point, feeling overwhelmed with heavy workloads and long work hours. It’s important to recognize and understand burnout because it can have serious mental and physical effects. 

Loss of energy

The first sign of burnout is energy depletion. You may feel drained or stuck at work, experience a lack of motivation, find it difficult to make decisions, or feel helpless. Even after a good rest or time off, you still feel exhausted. 

Disconnection from work

The second sign of burnout is the mental distance from your job. You might feel disconnected from or numb at work. Lack of meaning or satisfaction in work can lead to mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.

Cynicism 

The last component of burnout is cynicism toward your job, which can develop over time. It’s important to understand how cynicism is tied to burnout. You might have started a new job and feel that you’re going to excel. However, as burnout increases, you start losing motivation and detach yourself from various aspects of the job. You might find yourself asking “why does this even matter?” or “who cares”?

4 Tips to manage work burnout

1. Connect your core values with your work

Given how much time we spend at work, it’s important to find meaning beyond yourself and your paycheck. You feel that your job matters! Connect your core values to your day-to-day tasks. This will give you a sense of purpose and increase your work satisfaction.

For instance, if you work in the medical field, one of your top values might be caring for others. Remind yourself of this value as you go about your day. Connecting your job to a bigger purpose or your core values can make a big difference. 

Of course, even if we have the job of our dreams, it’s unrealistic to love our job every day. Our lives are messy, so there will be tough days. But keeping those values in mind during the daily grind can help protect you against burnout.

2. Set boundaries

Learn to say no and set priorities. This is a key to staying connected to yourself, which also helps you connect meaningfully with your job. Trying to be perfect or please everyone is not healthy. Boundary setting involves some negotiation, so try to be realistic about what you can and can’t take on. You could also try scheduling or prioritizing your tasks differently. Being strategic with the tasks you accept or how you organize them could minimize some stress. 

3. Practice self-care

Self-care is essential for your emotional well-being. If you feel burnt out, it’s especially important to give back to yourself. Carve out time for yourself and be mindful of your own needs. This will help you maintain a better work/life balance and reduce work stress or burnout. Also, spend time with loved ones who are supportive and nurturing. They can offer emotional stability and lift you up when you are down.

4. Ask for help

A mental health practitioner can help you understand work stressors and identify healthy coping strategies. A therapist can also help you learn to reduce chronic work stress and alleviate burnout symptoms. 

Preventing burnout

You’ve already taken one step to preventing burnout—reading this article! We’ve got many other resources to help. You can read another blog, like Understanding and Treating Academic Burnout or Where Is Your Stress Coming From? You can also join one of our free webinars on other related topics!

What else can you do to take care of yourself and prevent burnout?

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