The faster-pace of living and the increasing competitiveness in finding and keeping jobs are taking its toll on most people. Work stress is highly common in individuals maintaining paying jobs. Demands of the work place can be harmful to the individual both mentally and physically. Stress can bring about depression, anxiety, ulcers, and heart diseases.
Despite stress as a common and constant companion of individuals, very few can identify when they have reached the burnt-out phase at work. Job stress burn-out is defined by Healthy Place as, “a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.” Levels of stress differ across individuals, but ultimately, unrecognized and unaddressed stress that is constantly experienced will eventually burn out the individual.
Signs of Job Stress Burn-Out
Work burn-out can be manifested in several symptoms. This includes short-temperedness, back pains, neck pains and irritability. Difficulty sleeping, chronic absenteeism and over criticism of oneself are also manifestations of burn-out.
Job stress burn-out undergoes five main stages. Each phase has its own level of manifestations and seriousness. According to Dr. Miller of Healthy Place, these stages are: the honeymoon, the awakening, brownout, full-scale burnout, and the Phoenix phenomenon.
The honeymoon stage is practically absent from any stress-related symptoms. At this stage the individual is happy with the job, the workplace, even with the co-workers. The energy of the individual is extremely high and it is manifested in enthusiasm with work.
The awakening stage is when high expectation on the job, the workplace and co-workers come crashing down. At this stage it can be said that this is when reality finally bites. Needs are not satisfied and conflicts arise with co-workers and other members of the organization. Because of the disappointment, other symptoms appear. There is now confusion and frustration. The individual may now feel constantly tired and bored at work.
The brownout stage is when the energy is eventually consumed by fatigue and irritability at work. Enthusiasm with work drops as well as productivity and quality of work. There is criticism from workers regarding the work product and this adds on to the stress already being experienced.
A full scale-burnout occurs when a feeling of failure is felt with respect to work. Self-confidence is lost and replaced by despair and emptiness. There is a constant feeling of loneliness. Exhaustion is also felt, both physically and mentally. Quitting the job is contemplated. There is a felt need to get away from the work and the workplace.
Finally, the Phoenix phenomenon occurs when the individual finally recognizes that stress is being experienced. There is an identification of which factors have caused the burnout. By recognizing and identifying, arising from the burnout is now made possible.
To overcome burnout it is necessary to address what caused the burnout in the first place. In most cases, high expectations of the work and idealistic aspirations are the main cause of burnout. Making more realistic goals and aspirations will surely help prevent burnout. This does not mean setting goals and ambitions for yourself, rather it means recognizing your limitations and the limitations of the workplace. Your life must go beyond your work. Enjoy your time alone, your time with your friends and your time with your family. This will help you keep track of your expectations and it will also keep your aspirations realistic.