Are you feeling more tired than usual? Have you lost all motivation to complete work duties or chores at home? Are things grating on your nerves that usually would not stress you out?

You might be facing burnout.

What is burnout, other than a buzzword?

We've all faced times when work has been stressful, and we feel that stress and even use it to motivate us to complete projects and other deliverables. Burnout happens when you've been stressed too often and can manifest as physical, mental or emotional symptoms.

Burnout isn't a recent phenomenon; in 2015, a Deloitte survey found that 77% of professionals have experienced burnout.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Increased susceptibility to illness
  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
  • Insomnia

Mental and emotional symptoms include:

  • Not feeling valued at work
  • Increases cynicism
  • Loss of motivation
  • Being less effective at work

These symptoms do not go away with a day or two off, and you may begin to use coping mechanisms to get through your day.

What contributes to burnout?

This has been a challenging year for APSA members, with the hiring freeze in effect, the recent strike action, and the budget cuts that SFU faces, which may increase your stress. Your leaders may ask you to take on more work when your workload is already more than you should be doing in a workday.

Here are other things that may contribute to burnout that are specifically work-related:

  • Feeling like you have no authority over your work assignments
  • Feeling the University does not recognize your value
  • Overly demanding expectations at work
  • Chaotic or high-pressure environment
  • Overwhelmed, facing too many responsibilities without enough support from coworkers or leaders.

So, you've identified that you may have burnout. What can you do to manage it?

One important thing is to set firm boundaries at work. If you have a good relationship with your leader, speak to them about your capacity and your job duties and if they require that you take the tasks that another person used to do, ask them what tasks are higher priorities and work on your core duties and tasks that your position should be doing first. 

Your work-life balance is essential, especially when you're working remotely. Are you taking your breaks and walking, if you can, during the day?

If you're a leader, it's important to be aware of signs of burnout among your team members. Support them in managing their workload and stress levels and create a healthy work environment. Remember that asking for help with burnout can be stigmatized, so it's essential to look for behavioural cues in your team instead. Encourage an open and supportive culture where team members can discuss their challenges and get the support they need.

Look at your basic self-care routine. You may think you are caring for yourself, but are you getting enough sleep? Eating well? Moving and exercising regularly? All of these building blocks are important to improve your basic health. You may think that you're answering work emails at 10 p.m. only occasionally, but track how many times a week you're really doing this, and the answer may surprise you.

Seek support using your psychological health care benefits, EFAP or other more informal ways to talk about what's happening in your work life and how to take action to reduce your mental and emotional burnout and strain.

As always, we're here to assist you as you need. Doing so is always confidential.