10 min czytania 8 March 2023

Professional burnout – causes, symptoms, how to cope?

Are you fed up with your job? Are you tired of your daily responsibilities and don’t know how to cope? Job burnout is a syndrome that can get us in any position. Constant stress has a negative impact on our wellbeing and performance at work. It can lead to exhaustion. How do we deal with burnout? How do we find the will to live with a job that makes us tired?

Professional burnout


Professional burnout – what is it?

Job burnout is a syndrome that involves a loss of motivation to act, of the desire to work. We feel that work does not give us satisfaction – it leads to a lack of energy and stress. It is an increasingly common problem that can affect any industry and any position. The term emerged in the US in the 1970s, introduced by psychiatrist Herbert Freudenberger. The second researcher to describe the concept of job burnout at the time was Christina Maslach. According to her, three phases are distinguished:

  • emotional – emotional exhaustion, unwillingness to work, chronic physical and mental fatigue, irritability
  • interpersonal – lack of commitment, distance from people (colleagues, clients, patients), unwillingness to build relationships
  • cognitive – dissatisfaction with one’s job, lack of self-confidence, feeling that time is being wasted

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Professional burnout – what are the causes?

There is no single cause that causes professional burnout. It is influenced by individual factors such as low self-esteem, lack of resistance to stress, perfectionism or hypersensitivity. The most common cause of this syndrome is long-term stress, which has a very negative impact on the functioning of the body. What else can cause professional burnout?

  • workaholism
  • lack of development and promotion opportunities
  • high expectations
  • time pressure
  • high responsibility
  • excessive responsibilities
  • bad atmosphere in the company
  • lack of balance between private and professional life
  • lack of time to rest
  • poor diet, sedentary lifestyle
  • conflicts with colleagues or superiors
  • monotony of doing the same job
  • lack of support, rivalry in the workplace
  • bullying
  • inadequate remuneration

Symptoms of professional burnout

The most common symptoms of job burnout include:

  • chronic physical and mental fatigue, lack of energy
  • irritability, irritability, mood swings
  • aversion to work, lack of satisfaction
  • lowered mood, depression, aversion to life
  • weakened organism
  • lack of commitment to professional duties
  • avoidance of contact with people
  • apathy
  • low self-esteem, lack of confidence in own abilities
  • lack of interest in the industry
  • sleep disorders (nightmares, waking up, problems with falling asleep)
  • psychosomatic disorders (headaches, backaches, stomach problems)
  • concentration problems
  • decrease or increase in body weight
  • feelings of helplessness, lack of prospects, feelings of disappointment
  • physical exhaustion
  • cynicism and feelings of meaninglessness
  • a tendency to use stimulants
  • fear of going to work

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The impact of job burnout

Burnout syndrome is a serious problem that affects workers in a variety of industries. People through constant stress can have physical and psychological symptoms. These problems can develop into serious illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders and psychosomatic disorders. This syndrome occurs if we fail to get adequate rest after work. The consequences can translate not only to the employee, but also to their family and the company they work for. Failure to deal with professional burnout can affect inefficiency at work, frequent absences. We may feel incompetent and have problems organising our work. We become less creative and our quality of work declines. In the long run, professional burnout can be very debilitating. It is therefore worth fighting it and trying to prevent it.

Sick leave for job burnout – is it possible?

In 2019, the WHO, or World Health Organisation, endorsed occupational burnout as a syndrome. From 1 January 2022, doctors will be able to issue L4s (sick leave) for this condition. In reality, there may still be problems, as it is a novelty that will still be subject to changes. There has been controversy over this – the Social Security and employers are not happy about this development. Syndrome can be used by people to escape from their professional duties. Doctors issuing sick leave without a genuine reason will be subject to criminal and professional liability.

Who is at risk of occupational burnout?

Occupations that come into contact with people or provide help to others are susceptible to job burnout. Currently, any industry can be prone to feeling exhausted at work. High stress is a civilisation problem that leads to increasing health problems. The most vulnerable professions are those such as:

  • health professionals, medical professions (psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse)
  • carers of the elderly
  • social care workers, social workers, administrative staff
  • prison workers
  • police officers
  • firemen
  • School and university staff (teachers, educationalists)
  • catering workers (chefs, waiters)
  • artists, writers
  • tradesmen

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Ways to deal with professional burnout

Professional burnout can have a negative impact on the life of any employee. Physical and psychological symptoms, such as chronic stress or fatigue for extended periods, are severely debilitating. The causes of professional burnout are often individual, and may manifest themselves slightly differently in everyone. To be able to deal with this syndrome, it is worth starting by finding the source of the problem. Perhaps work is not going as it should or is poorly organised?

The next step is to set your priorities. Work needs to be properly separated from your private life. You need to learn to relax. Make regular time for leisure, hobbies and meeting friends. It is important to recognise your needs and accept limitations. Pay attention to proper diet, sport and rest. Start to be assertive and set boundaries. Try to change to a more healthy lifestyle. If nothing helps, it is a good idea to ask your boss to temporarily change your duties or rearrange your work. As a last resort, you need to consider a holiday or a change of job. With the problem of job burnout you can also go to a psychologist, who will certainly be able to help.

Work burnout is a social problem that can get to anyone. It can severely hamper the work and life of working people. People who are affected by job burnout should react quickly to it and not ignore the first symptoms.

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