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Beating burnout at work – Part 1

November 3, 2023

Amanda Collinge is an organisational psychologist who specialises in positive psychology and is an associate trainer at SVC. In this series of blogs, she explains how you can identify the signs of burnout and, crucially, make changes for the better.

Burnout can seem like an occupational hazard in this busy and demanding modern world but it can have an incredibly damaging effect on both our work life and our personal life. However, by spotting the signs, Amanda explains how burnout can be tackled before it is too late.

Burnout is characterised by a triad of dimensions:

  1. Increased mental distance from one’s job
  2. Feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job and
  3. Reduced professional efficacy

The first step in combating burnout is to recognise the tell-tale physical and mental signs.

  1. Exhaustion

    A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.

  2. Lack of Motivation

    If you are no longer feeling enthusiastic about the things you used to enjoy or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, you could be experiencing burnout. Perhaps you are finding it harder to get going in the morning and more difficult to drag yourself into work every day.

  3. Negative thoughts and emotions

    You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to. While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.

  4. Cognitive Problems

    Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate. When we’re stressed, our attention narrows and we tend to focus more on the negative rather than the positive. In the short term, this can help us deal with the problem at hand, but over time our brains can default into negative and unhelpful patterns which impact upon our attention, problem solving and the way we perceive the world. This “fight or flight” response may also result in you being more forgetful.

  5. General Decreased Satisfaction

    This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life. You might feel ‘stuck’ and feel unable to engage with social activities which you previously enjoyed.

You’ll find more workplace insight, including more from Amanda on burnout and how to prevent it, here.

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