Job burnout: How to spot it and take action
Discover if you're at risk of job burnout — and what you can do when your job begins to affect your health and happiness.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Job burnout is a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work. If you think you might be experiencing job burnout, take a closer look at the phenomenon. What you learn might help you face the problem and take action before job burnout affects your health.
Could you be experiencing job burnout?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing job burnout. Be sure to consult your doctor or a mental health provider, however. Some of these symptoms can also indicate certain health conditions, such as a thyroid disorder or depression.
What causes job burnout?
Job burnout can result from various factors, including:
Sept. 17, 2015
- Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job — such as your schedule, assignments or workload — could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
- Unclear job expectations. If you're unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you're not likely to feel comfortable at work.
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, or you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. This can contribute to job stress.
- Mismatch in values. If your values differ from the way your employer does business or handles grievances, the mismatch can eventually take a toll.
- Poor job fit. If your job doesn't fit your interests and skills, it might become increasingly stressful over time.
- Extremes of activity. When a job is monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused — which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
- Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed.
- Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don't have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.
See more In-depth
- Depression: What is burnout syndrome? U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072470/. Accessed Aug. 28, 2015.
- Guglielmi O, et al. Job stress, burnout, and job satisfaction in sleep apnea patients. Sleep Medicine. 2014;15:1025.
- BongKyoo C, et al. Job strain and lifestyle factors. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2014;186:63.
- de Vente W, et al. Recovery of work-related stress: Complaint reduction and work-resumption are relatively independent processes. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. 2015;25:658.
- BongKyoo C, et al. Job strain and coronary heart disease. The Lancet. 2013;381:448.
- Catalina-Romero C, et al. The relationship between job stress and dyslipidemia. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2013;41:142.
- Fransson El, et al. Job strain and the risk of stroke: An individual-participant data meta-analysis. Stroke. 2015;46:557.
- Preventing burnout. HelpGuide.org. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/preventing-burnout.htm. Accessed Aug. 28, 2015.
- Nevanpera JN, et al. Occupational burnout, eating behavior, and weight among working women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;95:934.
- Relaxation techniques for stress relief. HelpGuide.org. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief.htm. Accessed Aug. 28, 2015.
- Creagan ET (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 30, 2015.