In May, the World Health Organization classified job burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
So how can you tell if the symptoms you are experiencing are normal, life-related worries, or if you are spiraling into a pit of stress?
Here are five red flags to look for:
1. Lack of motivation
“You may start feeling anxious about your work, “even for parts of your job you used to enjoy,” says Dr. Chloe Carmichael, a clinical psychologist in Midtown.
This typically reveals itself as annoyance or feelings of frustration.
2. Being easily annoyed
An irascible mindset may emerge.
Look for “irritability with co-workers, negativity about bosses or your company that you can’t fully explain or that doesn’t really make sense when you think about it,” says Carmichael. “Like, ‘I’m so mad they’re painting the break room green — what a dumb color.’ ”
3. A significant personality change
“One early sign of burnout is a marked personality change, such as a usually talkative employee becoming quiet and reserved,” says Carl Bloomfield, managing director at insurance broker the Graham Company in Midtown. “Or an amicable employee suddenly starts vocalizing his or her complaints.”
4. A sense of disengagement
You may start feeling apathetic toward both your job and your co-workers.
“We may struggle to feel connected to workplace challenges because we simply don’t have enough energy or enthusiasm to move through them,” says Amina AlTai, a holistic leadership and mindset coach in Williamsburg. “Our brains and bodies become so exhausted that it impacts our ability to problem solve, be creative and sometimes even get through the work week.”
5. Physical symptoms
Your body may speak volumes.
“Chronic fatigue, insomnia and unexplained health complaints like headaches are all symptoms,” says Dr. Fred Pescatore, an M.D. in Midtown. “They’re important to address with your doctor.”
Headaches and eye tiredness from long hours staring at a computer can be early signs, too.
“While these may seem like common health complaints, if you’re experiencing these symptoms consistently over time and they are interfering with your daily life, then your doctor can help distinguish between an underlying health issue or if it’s something directly related to burnout,” Pescatore says.
How to deal with burnout
Once these signs appear, it’s important to take action before chronic burnout leads to serious health complications and continued challenges.
“Don’t ignore the symptoms,” said Pescatore, who recommends seeking support through friends and loved ones, or therapy to discuss your career goals. “It may be time to reassess how you’re managing your stress and your role at work. Diet also plays a huge role. Poor diet can make these symptoms worse and increase the risk of further health complications.”
Identify factors at work contributing to extreme stress levels and approach your boss about easing your workload or addressing the underlying problem.
Bloomfield suggests managers proactively address the situation before it escalates, and to show that their door is always open.
“A good first step is to have a conversation [with the employee] in a way that is free of judgment. Instead of probing the individual with questions, objectively identify the behaviors you have been seeing that are worrisome.”
In addition to talking through the root of the problem, Carmichael suggests taking a class in something new to give your brain a break from the grind. Or simply take a much-needed vacation. “I see many clients who get so burned out they aren’t thinking clearly and they miss obvious solutions like using a huge backlog of vacation time.”
She also recommends setting limits.
“Consider putting firm boundaries around your working schedule,” she says. “This may help you to focus more while you’re at the office. . . If you’re truly at a dead-end job [with people who] won’t work for you to help resolve what’s blocking you, it’s be