Why Do You Get Burnout?

The cause of burnout. Pixels

Burnout is a state of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.  If you are experiencing burnout, you may notice it is difficult to engage in activities you normally find meaningful.  You may no longer care about the things that are important to you or experience an increasing sense of hopelessness.

There have physical burnout symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches/intestinal issues, fatigue, frequent illness, changes in appetite/sleep and also emotional symptoms such as helplessness, cynicism, sense of failure or self-doubt, decreased, satisfaction, feeling detached or alone in the world and loss of motivation. Here are the causes of burnout.

Burnout due to workload

When you have a workload that matches your capacity, you can effectively get your work done, have opportunities for rest and recovery, and find time for professional growth and development. When you chronically feel overloaded, these opportunities to restore balance don’t exist.

To address the stress of your workload, assess how well you’re doing in these key areas: planning your workload, prioritizing your work, delegating tasks, saying no, and letting go of perfectionism. If you haven’t been doing one or more of these things, try to make progress in these time management skill areas and then see how you feel. For many individuals, especially those who have a bent toward people pleasing, some proactive effort on reducing their workload can significantly reduce feelings of burnout and provide space to rest.

Burnout due to workload. Pixels
Burnout due to workload. Pixels

Perceived lack of control

Studies show that autonomy at work is important for well-being, and being micromanaged is particularly de-motivating to employees. Yet many employers fall back on watching their employees’ every move, controlling their work schedule, or punishing them for missteps.

Instead, says Moss, it’s important to help employees feel a sense of autonomy by backing off and acting more as a coach. Sure, it helps if you hire people with the right skills in the first place. But you can also increase autonomy by inviting employees to ask questions and express their needs, letting people set their own schedules and goals, and encouraging employees to find meaning in their jobs, writes Moss.

Perceived lack of control. Pixels
Perceived lack of control. Pixels


Think about whether you believe that you receive fair and equitable treatment. For example, do you get acknowledged for your contributions or do other individuals get praised and your work goes unnoticed? Does someone else get regular deadline extensions or access to additional resources when you don’t?

If you feel that a lack of fairness exacerbates your burnout, start by speaking up. Sometimes individuals are unaware of their biases or won’t take action until you ask for what you want. You can request to be mentioned as a contributor, to give part of a presentation, or for additional time and resources. And if you still find that the response seems inequitable, you can consider bringing that up in a polite way: “I noticed that the Chicago team got an additional week to work on their project that was originally due on the same date as ours. Can you help me understand why that’s not possible for our team as well?”

Fairness. Pixels
Fairness. Pixels


If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount of effort and time you put in to them, then you’re likely to feel like the investment is not worth the payoff.

In these instances, you want to look within and determine exactly what you would need to feel properly appreciated. For example, perhaps you need to ask for a raise or promotion. Maybe you need more positive feedback and face time with your boss. Or perhaps you need to take advantage of the rewards you’ve already accrued, such as taking the comp time that you earned during a particularly busy time at the office. Experiment to see which rewards would make what you’re doing worth it to you and whether there is the opportunity to receive more of those rewards within your current work environment.

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