What Is Burnout?

How is Burnout Related To Stress?

Burning the candle at both ends?
Burning the candle at both ends? That can lead to burnout. Tobias Bernhard/ Photographer's Choice/ Getty Images

Most of us have felt we were on the verge of burnout at one point in our lives or another, but what exactly does this mean?  And how common is burnout?  Here are the basics on burnout, and how you can keep yourself from getting to this state in your life.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout refers to a state of overwhelm, emotional listlessness and depression due to prolonged levels of high stress, usually related to excessive workplace or lifestyle demands.

Symptoms of burnout can vary among individuals, but tend to include many of the following:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of creativity
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or fatigue
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Dread of going to work
  • Anger

Who Is At Risk For Burnout?

People at highest risk of burnout are those who feel a lack of control over their environment, have unclear expectations placed on them, receive little recognition, and lack social support, while having high performance expectations placed on them. (In other words, they feel like they're working a lot, with little reward, or there&'s no way to excel at their task, with no end in sight.)

How Can You Avoid Burnout?

Fortunately, steps can be taken to combat burnout. The following burnout resources can help you gain a deeper understanding of job burnout, and help you effectively combat it:

Specter, P.; Chen, P.; and O'Connell, B. (April 2000). A longitudinal study of relations between job stressors and job strains while controlling for prior negative affectivity and strains. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 85(2), Apr, 2000. pp. 211-218.

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