HR & Personal Development

Are you in danger of burnout?

In order to burn out you must first burn.

Burning out or depression fatigue is a work-related type of stress that comes from a continuing state of mental or physical overload. It most often affect people who work with other people. Especially skilled, enthusiastic people who demands a lot from themselves are often affected.

What is being burnt out?

On stresstalk.dk they describe the condition like this:

"If you have experienced for a longer period of time that the things you want and perhaps the things you have to do cannot be done, no matter what you try to do and how much you try to do it, then you may gradually get worse and in the end burn out or get depression fatigued."

Burning out is not a clinical diagnosis per se, and thus there are several definitions. One of the most common definitions is expressed by scientist Christina Maslach who in a pamphlet concerning mental work environment, made by the Danish Working Environment Service, connects the state of being burnt out directly to working with people on a daily basis. The condition shows itself as:

  • Emotional exhaustion where the coworker for instance have not got the strength to relate to other people’s problems.

  • Negative, cynical beliefs and emotions towards the people that they must help.

  • Reduced level of self-esteem and work ability, including the experience that they have gotten worse at their job (source).

Who is often burning out?

People who work with other people, enthusiastic people who demand a lot from themselves. As such, the skilled, enthusiastic coworker is at high risk of burning out. According to the Danish Working Environment Service this is because:

“Many coworkers in for instance the social and health or educational sector have entered this line of work, because to them it is meaningful to work with other people. But in practice the coworker may have difficulty finding meaning in the professional role they have to take towards the patients, clients or pupils. The coworker’s feeling can be enhanced by the specific work circumstances, lack of resources etc. that may make it difficult for him to provide “qualified care”, “qualified case handling” or “qualified education””.

Typical professions:

  • Teachers/instructors

  • Social workers

  • Employees in the health sector. For instance doctors, nurses, home care etc.

However, the condition is not limited to these areas of personnel. According to iform.dk, being burned out also affects the IT industry, self-employed, leaders and managers.

9 signs that you are in danger of burning out

  1. Even tiny problems are capable of throwing you off balance.
    You are not able to differentiate between small problems and actual crises. Small problems should not throw you off balance.

  2. Chronic low level of energy and exhaustion.
    Exhaustion is a big part of feeling burnt out. It separates from feeling tired in a given situation. Being burnt out is a chronic feeling of exhaustion and lack of surplus.

  3. Experience illness more often.
    Being burnt out does not just affect you mentally, it can also show itself through physical problems. Headache, stomachache, problems with digestion, sleep disorder etc. can all occur based on your mental condition.

  4. You do not take time to relax and recharge.
    Relaxation is necessary for your recovery and ought to take place during working hours and also after work.

  5. Experience a lack of living
    It feels as if you are not doing anything with your life, even though you are busy.

  6. You feel that you are not present in the moment.

  7. You have gotten cynical.
    Your enthusiasm for your work has disappeared, and everything and everyone irritate you. Where you gave a little extra before, you now only provide a minimum of effort.

  8. Cannot let go of perfectionism.
    People with perfectionistic tendencies are at greater risk of experiencing burning out, because perfectionistic behavior drains your energy. Ask yourself, whether perfectionism is necessary in relation to your current project. The answer will often be no.

  9. You feel that there are too many demands in relation to the resources at hand. (source)

    If you experience one or several of these signs, then it is important that you seek help right away. Either from your own doctor, a psychologist or your employer. Burning out is a severe suffering that may require a huge amount of time to get recovered from.