6 Surprising Symptoms of Work from Home Burnout – Most People Don’t Know Until It’s Too Late

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Before COVID, many people dreamed of working from home. Then during the pandemic, 71% of workers whose jobs allowed them to work remotely were forced to set up a workspace at home. Even after workplaces reopened, working from home at least part of the time is still a reality for 59% of this cohort, according to Pew Research.  

But working from home is not the walk-in-the-park many imagine it to be. There are still deadlines that need to be met, quotas to fill, and customers to please. Burnout happens at home too.  

If you want to avoid burnout, you must understand it first. Read on to find out how to identify and cope with burnout to get your physical, mental, and emotional well-being back on track.

What is Burnout?

Although not technically a medical diagnosis, burnout can affect your overall health and wellness. The World Health Organization refers to burnout as an” occupational phenomenon” in the ICD-11 (11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases).  

The ICD-11 describes burnout as “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 
  • Reduced professional efficacy.”

In short, burnout is when you are constantly stressed to the point that you feel tired, don’t care about your work, complain about your job, and your work performance is suffering.  

Now that you know what burnout is, here are the signs and symptoms someone can experience when burned out.  

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout creeps up on you since it results from built-up unresolved chronic stress. While the risk is higher for some occupations, anyone can experience burnout. The symptoms can resemble other serious mental health problems, such as depression. Here are the telltale signs:

1. Fatigue

Burnout can cause you to feel physically and emotionally exhausted. You may feel like you lack energy and want to sleep more than usual. But constantly feeling tired (more than normal) can also signify other medical problems. So be sure to talk to your doctor if you feel tired for an extended period of time.

2. Insomnia

If you are having a hard time falling asleep or frequently waking up during the night, you could be experiencing a symptom of burnout. The inability to fall asleep because your stress levels are through the roof is common when becoming burned out. Dreading the following day’s workload may deprive you of much-needed sleep, which exacerbates the problem.

3. Feelings of Negativity

Another symptom of burnout is feeling cynical toward your boss or employer and thinking negatively about your job. Pessimism is a characteristic that your coworker may call you out on. You may feel irritable and grumpy, causing isolation from others. Supervisors may notice job performance indifference and an overall poor attitude from burned-out employees.     

4. Lack of Motivation

Loss of motivation and no longer caring about your work is another indicator of job burnout. Feelings of hopelessness and sadness about your job situation can lead to you being overwhelmed by your workload. In addition, a lack of motivation and a sense of being overworked can lead to high anxiety levels.  

5. Feeling Unwell | Physical Ailments

Burnout takes a toll on your physical health too. Possible physiologic implications of burnout include headache, gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. In addition, burnout can lead to general malaise, fatigue, and frequent colds due to lowered immunity. 

6. Decreased Job Performance

Burnout affects your overall job performance and productivity. You may feel overwhelmed by your workload and mentally drained. As a result, your manager may notice poor communication, decreased efficiency, and a decline in the quality of your work. In addition, mental exhaustion causes you to feel dissatisfaction with your job and career, making you dream about quitting.  

How to Recover from Burnout

Prolonged stress leads to burnout, absenteeism, and the desire to quit. However, it is possible to recover from burnout. The first step is to acknowledge the problem. Once you realize your symptoms are caused by work-related stress, you can take action to rectify the situation. Here are some tips to start down the road to a full recovery from burnout.  

1. Identify Your Source of Stress

There are many aspects of a job that can cause you unnecessary stress. Understanding where your anxiety stems from is critical so you can address it. Is your boss a micromanager? Is your workload too heavy? Are you putting in way more work hours during the year than usual? Or maybe it is all of these things. Once you determine where the epicenter of your stress lies, you can identify the conversations you need to have to nip it in the bud.

2. Manage Your Stress

Working on your stress reduction techniques is crucial to recovering from burnout. Learning to cope with job-related stress is imperative to thrive in any working environment. Learning effective stress management techniques can help you in other aspects of your life. Here are different ways to manage stress to help you recover from burnout.

  • Exercise
  • Play with pets
  • Journal
  • Participate in leisure interests
  • Talk with a friend
  • Meditate
  • Try yoga
  • Spend time outside
  • Listen to music or your favorite podcasts
  • Do deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation
  • Get a massage

3. Take a Leave of Absence or Vacation

Taking time off to relax and recenter yourself may be necessary if your burnout is severe. Plan a vacation and don’t hesitate to use the paid time off you have accumulated. If your employer allows, a leave of absence could be just what you need to recover from burnout.  

4. Talk to a Therapist

Seeking assistance from a licensed therapist or counselor can help you recover from burnout. Professional services can help you to reorganize your thoughts and ditch the negativity. In addition, talking one-on-one with someone that understands what you are going through can give you the support you need to overcome burnout and alleviate your symptoms.  

5. Establish a Support System

Aside from getting professional assistance, it is vital to have a robust support system of trusted friends, family, or colleagues. This network can provide you with feedback to help you identify when your symptoms are getting worse, based on your mood and energy levels. You can also look for support groups in your local community to help you recover from burnout.

6. Look for a New Job

Sometimes jobs have too many stressors, making it nearly impossible to overcome burnout. If your job is not a good fit for your personality, you may be in a state of constant stress and unable to find relief, even with stress reduction techniques. When this occurs, a different job may be the only option to reduce stress and alleviate psychosomatic disorders. Sometimes finding a new job may mean a reduction in pay. However, you’ll have to decide what’s more important, your physical health and state of mind, or your current annual salary

How to Prevent Burnout

Burnout grows out of workplace stress, which means any method of keeping your stress levels down will help you avoid burnout. Here are ways to prevent stress from building up while working at home or in the office, so you feel happier and healthier.

1. Learn Your Stress Symptoms

Everyone reacts to stress differently. Recognizing your individual responses to pressure is key. Early detection is vital in getting your stress under wraps before it gets out of hand.

2. Use Workplace Coping Strategies

Stressful situations can emerge in any work environment. Therefore coping with stress is a life skill you will want to master to overcome daily workplace stressors. Try one or all of these techniques to help keep stress levels low throughout the day.

3. Don’t Procrastinate, Prioritize 

Pay attention to encroaching deadlines and get a jump start on important assignments so you don’t have to work under pressure later. Identify the time of day you are in your sharpest and most productive frame of mind and focus on the work that takes precedence during that time. 

4. Use a To-Do List

When your workload is out of hand, try making a to-do list of what you need to have completed in order of importance. Finish each item before moving to the next task, and be sure to cross it off the list. Seeing your accomplishments on paper will keep you motivated and the work flowing. Avoid distractions, such as reading emails and texts, to keep your workflow going.  

5. Take a Break

If you start to feel stressed, sometimes taking a short break is perfect for recentering yourself. Get up, take a walk, go outside, or grab a snack or drink for a few minutes to avoid more pressure build-up. Even five quick minutes of exercising can help reset your mind and calm your emotions, making you more productive when you resume.  

6. Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are excellent for reducing stress in the workplace. There are many you can do even while sitting at your desk. Try deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and meditation, aromatherapy, chair yoga, or massage. Find those relaxation techniques you respond best to and leverage them to reduce your anxiety at work.  

7. Know When to Log Off

Having a home office makes it easy to put in long hours since you don’t have a commute at the end of your workday. However, limiting your daily hours to your employer’s requirements is critical for preventing burnout. If you tend to get lost in your work, set a timer to go off when it’s time to quit for the day. Log off and shut down your computer to avoid the temptation to keep working.  

8. Address Your Work-Life Balance

Having a healthy work-life balance is crucial for avoiding burnout. Learning how to say no to overtime or weekend work when it isn’t required is a good first step to living a balanced lifestyle. Saying no to making extra money may not be easy, especially when finances are tight. But enjoying quality time with your friends and family instead of working can help diminish your negativity about your job and help you realize there are other more important things in life.  

In Summary

Whether you work from home or head to the office, everyone is at risk for job burnout. Understanding the causes of stress in your work environment is crucial to preventing and recovering from burnout. Employ your favorite coping strategies to keep a healthy mind and body to stay productive when on the job.  

This article originally appeared on  My Work From Home Money.

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