Last updated:

November 4, 2022


 min read

Understanding Burnout: Causes, types, and symptoms

Burnout has become a pressing concern since the COVID-19 Pandemic. Read our guide on burnout to learn everything about its causes, types, and symptoms.

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What is burnout?

Burnout, in simple terms, is an extreme amount of exhaustion and fatigue someone might feel after going through prolonged stress. Anything that can overwhelm you physically, emotionally, or mentally can lead to burnout. The pandemic tested people’s capacities for tolerance and patience, which resulted in a large number of people experiencing emotional burnout. 

People in certain occupations, like emergency services and healthcare, are more prone to burnout. This is because they are expected to provide immediate services during any disaster and are constantly exposed to sensitive and stressful situations. Other than them, people who are overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated at their work are also prone to burnout. 

Common causes of burnout

Multitasking for longer periods

While some people may admit to liking multitasking, it is still not the most sustainable way of working. When you multitask for extended periods, you are using up a lot of your mental resources in one go without stopping to recharge. The more consumed you are with your work, your energy resources will deplete faster.

Poor work-life balance

When you are always working by the clock, you might not have enough time to practice self-care or slow down and enjoy things that bring you joy. You might not even get enough time to talk to or spend with your loved ones, which can cost you your well-being. 

Not getting enough time to take care of yourself

Eating healthy meals on time, working out, doing something that makes you happy, and sleeping well is essential for gaining energy and functioning efficiently at work. Overlooking these for too long can be a red flag for your well-being.  

Not being able to say ‘No’

This is one of the most common things that people struggle with. Not being able to say 'No' to a new responsibility or whenever someone asks you for help only adds on to your existing, long list of responsibilities. Not being able to set boundaries can become an unhealthy habit, as a lack of boundaries requires you to prioritise others’ needs over your own. 

Unreasonably high workload

Signing up for more than you can manage, be it in your personal or professional life, negatively affects your emotions. If you constantly have an incomplete to-do list to get back to, sooner or later, it will result in fatigue and burnout.  

3 types of burnout

Overload burnout

As the name suggests, this can happen when you take up more responsibilities or tasks than you can manage at once. In this kind of burnout, you might also overlook basic necessities like eating meals on time, showering, and paying attention to your health.

Under-challenged burnout

We, as individuals, like to feel competent and capable of handling challenges and responsibilities and tackling problems on our own, and that is how we grow! However, if we are placed in a situation that does not allow us room for growth or improvement, we end up feeling stagnated, like we’re not being challenged enough. This can lead to burnout as well. 

Neglect burnout

When the work you’re doing goes unnoticed, or you feel unheard, unappreciated, and sidelined for a prolonged time, it’s possible for you to face this type of burnout. 

How to identify burnout

Physiological signs:

  • Chronic fatigue and constantly feeling low on energy
  • Stiffness in muscles or muscle pain 
  • Inability to take care of physical well-being
  • Gastro-intestinal problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • Hyperacidity 
  • Changes in blood pressure

Psychological signs:

  • Not gaining pleasure from the activities that you used to enjoy
  • Not feeling motivated to do anything
  • Constantly feeling overwhelmed 
  • Frequent irritation and anger
  • Frequent crying spells and bursts of anger
  • Inability to empathise with others
  • Feeling numb
  • Forgetting things
  • Inability to concentrate 

Along with these signs, you may also keep feeling like no matter how much effort you put in, nothing’s ever enough. This constant feeling can worsen your burnout and overall mood. 

Need help?

You can tackle burnout by seeking professional help. Therapy can be instrumental in helping you understand why you’re experiencing burnout, how to establish better boundaries, how you can be kinder to yourself, and several other strategies that will keep burnout at bay in the long run. Wondering where to find the right therapist? Rocket Health has you covered!