“I can’t do this anymore!” I thought to myself. I closed my office door, put my face into my hands, and began sobbing.
How could this be happening to me? I was a mature, balanced, successful career woman who appeared to have her life together. I was a dedicated employee with an impressive work ethic. I worked my butt off, obsessing over maintaining an A+ job performance. I accepted every project that my manager gave to me.
However, over time, I began to realize that he was a chronic delegator. He ran his personal business on company time, while convincing the CEO that he was successfully accomplishing dozens of projects.
I tried telling him that my workload was too large, but he would not listen. He was insistent that I continue completing his projects. When I issued a formal complaint to management, things got better for a while, but soon went back to the way they were before.
Dedication (and naïve stupidity) kept me at that job and in those circumstances for several years. But over time, my health and quality of life began declining. What was happening to me?
After a doctor’s visit, I found out that I was a perfect textbook example of a person with work burnout. Perhaps you have reasons for staying in a job that you dislike, but nothing should compromise your personal health. Below are seven common signs that you may be experiencing the same thing.
1.) Constant Exhaustion
One of the first signs of burn-out is feeling exhausted all the time.
Before you get out of bed in the morning, you already feel tired. Just waking up to the thought of going in to work makes you feel fatigued.
This isn’t just a physical exhaustion; it is also a mental one. Your personality dims and the things that once excited you seem tedious.
When you get home from work, all you want to do is curl up on the couch and do something that requires 0% effort. The days of going out with friend or accomplishing a goal are over. You are too tired to care anymore.
2.) Always Thinking About Work
Even though you are off the clock, you cannot stop thinking about your job.
The project you are working on, the deadline that is coming up next week, your demanding boss – you cannot stop thinking about them!
As a result, this increases your stress levels and does not allow you to mentally and physically prepare for the next work day.
Over time, this will take an effect on your job performance and health.
3.) Difficulty Sleeping At Night
You may feel exhausted and sleepy prior to crawling into bed. But the second you turn out the lights, your mind turns ON.
You begin thinking about work, your ever-increasing stress levels, and your decreasing life expectancy. (No, seriously!) This was a major problem for me.
I would lay awake for hours each night – getting an average of 3-4 hours of restless sleep. I allowed myself to take sleeping aids twice a week because I did not want to get hooked.
One night, after months of this, I broke down sobbing. I couldn’t go on like this! I was getting to the breaking point of exhaustion – Burn-Out!
Related Article: 12 Easy Nighttime Habits for Better Sleep
4.) Declining Job Performance
As your stress increases, your job performance often does the opposite.
Your mental and physical exhaustion cause a decrease in the quality of your work and the amount that you accomplish. A project that use to take you one week, now takes you two. The enthusiasm that you once possessed for your work is now replaced by a gnawing dread.
This was the part that bothered me the most because I was a stickler for high-quality work. As I found myself making mistakes and falling behind on projects, I became increasingly stressed. I began staying late at night and going in to work sick. Although I was physically there, it was not improving my situation.
Related Article: 9 Serious Signs You Have No Work-Life Balance
5.) You Give More Than You Get
You consistently go above-and-beyond in your work, but it goes unnoticed. Your reward for outstanding work is to have more projects delegated to you. Your job description is impossibly long, but no one seems to notice. All management sees is an employee who regularly performs high-quality work.
6.) Health Problems
As stress becomes a normal part of life, your body begins to signal the need for change.
For me, it started with debilitating headaches. I constantly had a stiff neck and clenched jaw. Then I started to have serious digestive/gut issues (painful bladder infections, constant acid reflux, and constipation). I began to gain weight even though I wasn’t eating badly. My nervous system began to act up. I would wake up at night shaking, shivering and sweating. I began to get anxiety.
I had NEVER suffered from anxiety a day in my life. But one day, I started to have trouble breathing and I had my first anxiety attack. What was happening to me!?
A quick google search and a trip to the doctor confirmed the following: my work stress was affecting my health. What was happening to me was a body’s NORMAL response to consistent stress.
However, over long periods of time, chronic stress can take a debilitating toll on a person’s health. My doctor informed me that stress is related to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and gastrointestinal issues.
Finding ways to effectively relive your stress is an important step to making your health a priority.
Related Article: 12 Successful Tips To Help You Manage Your Anxiety
7.) Interpersonal Problems
As your work stress increases, you may start to respond to others in a negative way.
Perhaps you are becoming increasingly argumentative and negative. Or you are withdrawing from the world, preferring to be by yourself instead of with your family and friends.
While it is normal to occasionally experience negative emotions, you must identify when they are becoming a normal part of your life.
I had always been a “people person” and loved being with my friends. However, I began to turn down party/event invites to stay at home curled up on the couch. I felt too tired to socialize with others. This behavior only left me feeling depressed and alone. It felt like a vicious cycle.
Related Article: 11 Reasons You Are Losing Your Friends
My final year of working there, I fantasized about leaving my job every day. This did NOT help my situation. It only made me feel more desperate. I found several ways to survive my workweek while hating my job, but over time I worked myself into a position where I could no longer work for that company. I ended up taking the steps to successfully leave my job and was able to focus on an entrepreneurial goal that I had.
It is always better to take the steps to prevent burnout than to react to it after it happens. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. If you are currently experiencing the signs/symptoms listed above, you need to take a moment to assess your situation.
If you have any questions about this article, just let us know in the comment section below! We’d be happy to help you out!