Ep. 32 – Signs, Symptoms & Causes of Burnout
How do you know when you are on the verge of burnout? And what’s causing it?
Mich Bondesio dives into the causes of workplace burnout and the signs and symptoms to watch out for.
Any resources referenced in the episode are listed below the transcript.
Creating Cadence Transcript – Ep. 32
Hi and welcome to Creating Cadence – a podcast for life and work in motion.
I’m your host Mich Bondesio, a writer, coach, consultant and the founder of GrowthSessions.co
This is episode 32, and the second episode of Season 6, recorded in June 2022.
This season I’m looking specifically at burnout, because it plays an important role in why Intentional Productivity is so crucial for our wellbeing.
Intentional Productivity was the theme of Season 5 so give it a listen if you haven’t already.
In the first episode of this season, episode 31, I defined what burnout actually means and shared a bit about my own experience with epic burnout.
In this episode, I’ll be looking at stress in general and the stressors within our bodies that influence burnout.
I also cover what to look out for in terms of symptoms of burnout, some of which may surprise you. We’ll also dive into specific work-related causes of burnout.
You can find the resources I reference in the transcript for this episode, but if you’re ready, let’s dive in.
Part 1 – Stressors
So let’s start with the concept of stressors and how they affect our physiology to cause symptoms related to burnout, so that you’re better equipped to recognise it when it looms.
Stressors activate the stress response in our body. They can be physical or emotional. They can be external or internal stressors.
External stressors can be related to things such as work, money, family, culture, etc. and internal stressors could be things like self-criticism, poor body image, crisis of identity, traumatic memories and so forth.
Our brain and body perceive stressors as potential threats. And too much stress or recurring, chronic stress puts strain on our body and mind. They have to overwork to deal with the stressors, which creates fatigue and leads to burnout.
Next up, let’s consider the signs and symptoms that indicate someone might be reaching a state of burnout.
Part 2 – Signs & Symptoms of Burnout
Some of these symptoms may already be familiar to you, but some may be surprising too.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing or displaying several of the following signs, then it’s likely that burnout is a big risk factor.
- Adrenal fatigue
- Gut issues
- Hormonal imbalances
- Food sensitivities
Then there are obvious signs such as:
- Low energy, where you’re tired all the time
- Lack of Motivation which leaves you feeling listless and languishing
- Low morale with a strong negativity bias
- Over-reactive emotional behaviour: such as showing signs of cynicism, hostility, anger and irritability.
- Recurring dreams or nightmares
- Brain fog
- Feeling unproductive
- Continuous crippling procrastination
- Relationship breakdowns
- Less sociable, you get insular, and don’t want to be around people, when this is not how you might typically behave.
- Perhaps you don’t answer emails or respond to texts
- Living and working in a state of clutter & disrepair (not watering the plants or cleaning up your house or workspace)
Although the constraints of the pandemic are now subsiding, burnout is still on the rise.
It’s happening across industries and across countries, whether you work from home, in a hospital, a restaurant, a manufacturing plant, or in an office.
To put this into stark perspective … let’s look at the statistics.
Part 3 – Burnout Statistics
As I work in digital fields, as do most of my clients and audience, I’m focusing primarily on knowledge worker arenas for this data. And these resources will be linked to in the transcript for this episode.
First, as part of Yerbo’s Burnout Index 2022 they interviewed over 30,000 tech workers for their recent “State of Burnout in Tech” report.
What they found was that:
- 2 in 5 people working in tech are at high risk of burnout (and this is more prevalent in women than men).
- 62% feel physically and emotionally drained.
- And 42% of tech professionals who feel they are at risk of burnout, are considering leaving their jobs. This is contributing to that great resignation of late.
According to Converkit’s latest research in their State of the Creator Economy Report for 2022, 61% of the over 2000 content entrepreneurs that they surveyed reported that they had experienced burnout in 2021.
And those are just stats for people in knowledge worker fields.
Recent research in the UK indicates that 46% of people working across industries are at risk of burnout from their job, and this risk profile increases for those of us working from home.
I’ve already covered the digital aspects of working online at home during the pandemic, but let’s look at what contributes to causing burnout from a workplace perspective in general.
Part 4 – Causes of Workplace Burnout
A recent article in Silicon Republic by Jenny Darmody identifies “a combination of skills gaps, increased pressure during the pandemic, and the intensity of workloads” as the primary reasons for increasing burnout in tech workers.
I’m sure those reasons can be applied in other sectors too.
Across knowledge worker industries, the hustle culture is also causing people to become insecure overachievers, who feel the pressure to perform and then experience self-doubt over their abilities.
This takes a lot of energy, putting pressure on their cognitive load and depleting their resilience.
Aside from the pandemic and the work habits we’ve developed because of it, general work circumstances that contribute to burnout include the following:
- An unsustainable workload
- A lack of autonomy or control over how we work or control over the situation that we’re in
- Self-doubt and a loss of self-efficacy
- A lack of connection with our work community
- Insufficient recognition or reward for our perceived value
- A sense of depersonalisation, where we are not recognised as an individual, and feel like we are merely a number
- Unfair discrimination or judgement against us
- A disconnect between external circumstances and internal values. When there is a lack of congruency between our internal and external worlds it causes stress.
Not only is burnout damaging our health, wellbeing and productivity, as well as our relationships with ourselves and others, it also has immense costs for businesses, healthcare systems and economies.
So we need to get serious about changing our approach to burnout in the workplace, to get better at both handling it and combating it.
And this is why the notion of Intentional Productivity is so important.
Implementing mindful approaches to work can go a long way to helping us improve our wellbeing and creativity as well as our our focus and our performance. And, incidentally, that’s why I’m writing a book on the topic.
Part 5 – Conclusion
In the next episode I’ll be looking at how burnout specifically affects entrepreneurs. And I’ll consider some of the other important contributors to burnout that affect us outside of the workplace.
I will also in a later episode be looking at ways that we can combat burnout and build our resilience to prevent it from happening in the future.
To get more resources that help you to create momentum, work with purpose and live with intention, do sign up to the free fortnightly CreatingCadence.co website.
And you’re welcome to drop me a line with your questions or comments, please write to hello @ creatingcadence.co
So, thanks for listening. Until next time, be brave in making change, be open to new things and keep moving forwards. One step at a time.
Bye for now.