Note: The following article is not intended to offer medical advice. If you experience the symptoms described below, please consult a doctor or mental health professional.
Being a hard worker is admirable. But what happens when a great work ethic becomes risky for your mental health? Sometimes people get so invested in their jobs that they underestimate the negative impact it can have on their well-being. Research has found that Indian professionals suffer higher work stress than workers globally, with 36% facing declining mental health compared to the global average of 28%.
Increased job stress can lead to burnout which is related to depression, anxiety, and physical health problems. A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that working an average of 55 hours a week compared to 40 hours increases the risk of stroke by 35% and heart disease by 17%.
If you’re worried about the effect of your work on your physical and mental health, here are 5 signs of job burnout to watch out for.
1. Changes in Sleep Patterns
Feeling exhausted at work due to continuous stress can lead to a wide range of sleep problems. A huge amount of stress at work can lower the body’s stress response and cause difficulties with falling asleep. Ask yourself this:
- Do you feel a lack of energy and interest at work?
- Are you having problems falling asleep?
- Has your sleep cycle changed?
Sleep plays a vital role in mental and physical well-being. You can improve your sleep patterns by setting a consistent bedtime. Use your phone alarm or a calendar reminder to get used to this sleep schedule. Avoid drinking caffeine, eating big meals, or using an electronic device for up to 30 minutes before bed.
2. Loss of Interest in Hobbies or Fun Activities
When people experience persistent sadness, lack of interest or a loss of enjoyment, it can be a sign of depression. These feelings begin to grow and deepen, especially if you have been having particularly stressful days for a long time. Here are some signs to watch out for.
- A loss of interest in hobbies, favourite activities, and interests
- A lack of energy or enthusiasm to do anything
- Withdrawing from spending time with family or friends
Making plans for the future can be the healthiest thing to do when you feel a loss of interest. This is called proactive coping and it’s a technique that helps boost psychological well-being. When you make plans for future events, it can pique your interest and give you something to look forward to even when you don’t feel as excited.
3. Changes in Physical Health
Stress, anxiety, and depression can all harm your physical health. You might begin to experience a wide range of physiological symptoms that don’t have an exact cause. It is important to first visit your doctor to make sure that there no underlying illness or condition is causing these symptoms. These symptoms could include:
- Unexplained headaches
- Stomach problems or bowel issues
- Intense pain in only one area of your body
Research shows that physical activity has a positive impact on mental health. Yoga and regular exercise can help boost your emotions and restore your body to health. Makes space for these activities in your day.
4. Increased Moodiness
Significant life changes, disruption in routine, and prolonged stress can lead to moodiness and cause emotions to rise and fall often. Stressful events like COVID-19 cause people to feel moody and stressed very often. Here’s how you can figure out if your work is impacting your mood:
- Do you often become cynical, critical, or angry at work?
- Do you lose your temper with co-workers, customers, or clients?
- Do you feel unhappy when going to work even if it isn’t a particularly stressful day?
These changes in mood and emotions might be overwhelming for you to deal with alone. It is helpful to speak to your manager so that you can get the help you need. Read this if you’re wondering whether it’s a good idea to talk to your manager about your stress.
5. Problems Focusing or Concentrating
Depression can affect the areas of the brain that are needed for memory retrieval and concentration. That makes it harder to do your job or go about everyday activities. These are just a few signs of having trouble concentrating:
- Getting distracted easily
- Difficulty listening to instructions
- Problems reading and remembering information that you read moments ago
When you are struggling with concentrating at work, there are two main things you can do. The first is to ask for help from your colleagues and manager to break the work into manageable portions. The second is to use techniques to make your life easier like using a voice recorder to recall tasks, placing post-it notes on your desk, or using Google’s ‘text to speech’ to make reading easier.
Workplace stress is real and it can be difficult to deal with. If you are struggling to cope with stress, do reach out to a doctor or mental health professional for help.