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Work Burnout Essay Sample, ExampleFinding a dream job—with comfortable work conditions and a high salary—is probably a goal everyone strives for. Indeed, in western society, where having a job is an important part of a successful person’s image, it is crucial that work brings satisfaction. However, it is not rare that even the best job starts to weigh down on a person. Most frequently, it happens to people who spend several years performing the same duties, although the period between getting hired and beginning to feel overwhelmed by the job differs from person to person. This is a problem so common and so significant that it has begun to be studied by psychologists, human resources specialists, and other experts; there is also a special term for it: occupational burnout—and although people who have it often tend to not take it seriously (believing they should “focus,” “pull themselves together,” beat their laziness,” or “get more motivated”), it is in fact a dangerous condition which requires taking adequate measures.

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First of all, job burnout does not just happen: it is a gradual process of work stress building up to the point when it becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. In brief, it can be described as physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, combined with the feeling of hopelessness and feeling a dead-end in the matters connected to one’s professional duties ( In this regard, it is rather close to depression—except that burnout starts with and is mostly connected to one’s professional activity.

This condition greatly decreases the quality of a person’s life, so the earlier it is detected, the better for one’s psychological health. So, what are the symptoms of occupational burnout?

Physical symptoms usually start with fatigue. A person feels that he or she is too tired to even get up and go to work; the amount of work such person can do per day lowers, and if no measures are taken, such fatigue can turn into exhaustion, when one’s energy resources are completely depleted. Insomnia often accompanies fatigue; although it might seem illogical, being unable to sleep when feeling tired of one’s job (or having other sleep deprivations such as nightmares, restless sleep, early awakenings, or superficial sleep) are common for occupational burnout. Other common symptoms include the loss of appetite (or, in some cases, bulimia), increased illness, and various pains and constraints in the body: chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, headaches, and so on (Psychology Today).

Mental exhaustion symptoms often include constant doubts in one’s competence. Even the simplest tasks start to seem difficult to accomplish, which leads to decreased initiative and a drop in productivity. A sense of failure and/or wasting one’s time on activities which completely do not matter is another common symptom; a person with burnout stops caring about results and the significance of what they do, work duties start to feel like a waste of time and energy, and there is nothing that can bring satisfaction to such person at work. The lack of the sense of accomplishment is yet another symptom which undermines a burned out person’s psychological well-being; as a result, one can develop anhedonia—the inability or a decreased ability to feel joy—in particular, about work done (

Emotional symptoms may vary from anger to anxiety—and rather often, they manifest themselves simultaneously. At first, a person getting close to burnout might feel that he or she is pressed on, or that they are not valued at work; later, such a person develops edginess, irritability, a lack of self-esteem in work matters, and may end up with feeling fear, dread, and disgust towards their professional duties (Psychology Today).

As it has been mentioned, occupational burnout does not occur overnight. It is a gradual process, which usually unfolds in four stages, each of which includes the aforementioned symptoms. Usually, it begins with physical and emotional fatigue; through the period of shame and doubts, a person burning out gets cynical and callous—this is the stage when one’s professional and personal relationships can suffer the most; after this stage, a burnout will most likely transform into full-scale depression, when a person will need serious psychiatric help (

So what causes this condition? The reasons are rather numerous. One of the most common cases is when a job does not match a person’s skills and/or interests. If you always dreamed to be an artist, but instead have to drive a truck, your frustration about this fact is a serious factor which might lead to burnout in the future. Dysfunctional workplace dynamics, when one has to work in bad conditions or a toxic environment builds up stress and serves as another cause of a burnout. Extreme work loads, the lack of balance between professional and personal life, the inability to influence decisions that affect one’s job—all this can also serve as significant factors in developing the discussed dangerous condition (Mayo Clinic).

There is good news: the signs of occupational burnout can be noticed rather early. If you are feeling that every new day is a bad day (your hatred towards Mondays counts as well), if you stopped caring or care less about your professional duties and the quality of the work done, if you feel tired more than usual during a relatively long period of time, if the tasks you perform start to feel mind-numbing or meaningless, or if you feel you are not valued and/or appreciated, then you might be on the road to a burnout (

What can be done about it? Mostly, one can prevent burnout or decrease its symptoms by building more constructive and fulfilling relationships with people one works with, re-organizing one’s work environment (for example, cleaning one’s desk, working from home or in cooperative spaces), and reframing one’s outlook and priorities. If you feel like you are going to burn out, you might want to take a break, sleep more, spend more time with friends and in nature, exercise more (physical activity, especially swimming, is a natural antidote to stress and depression)—and, in difficult situations, change your job and visit a psychotherapist. Reducing the amount of consumed caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol is also recommended; the latter is especially dangerous: although many people believe alcohol to be a sort of an antidepressant, in fact it inhibits one’s neural system and only worsens one’s psychological condition (

As it can be seen, occupational burnout is not a problem one should take lightly. It is a severe psychological condition which involves physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, and which can lead to depression. People working in bad conditions and/or toxic work environments, doing a job they dislike, or feeling a lack of control over their careers are likely to develop a burnout sooner or later. Fortunately, this condition can be prevented and treated, so if you notice yourself developing some of the symptoms of an occupational burnout, do not hesitate to take appropriate measures.

Works Cited

  • “What is Job Burnout?—Definition, Signs & Symptoms.” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017. .
  • “The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout … Do You Have Them?” Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017. .
  • “Burnout Prevention and Recovery: Signs, Symptoms, and Coping Strategies for Mental Exhaustion.” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017. .
  • “Job Burnout: How to Spot It and Take Action.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017. .
  • “The Four Stages of Burnout.” N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017. .
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