Are You Suffering From Job Burnout?

Are You Suffering From Job Burnout?

Kelly James thought she wanted to be a lawyer, but after four different law jobs in five years, she was at a breaking point. "I lived for Friday. I'd count the hours until Friday at five o'clock," she recalls.

After one particularly awful case, "I came home, and I cried for two or three hours straight," Kelly says. Her boyfriend finally confronted her. She remembers, "He said, 'If this job is making you this miserable, why don't you quit?'" Kelly finally acknowledged that job burnout was harming her mental and physical health.

She is not alone. Many people feel concerned about work-related stress. It not only hurt job satisfaction and performance but also health and wellness.

What Is Job Burnout?

Burnout is caused by constant stress and physical, mental, and emotional strain. It tends to build over time and cause people to detach from work and relationships. Burnout can impact health and wellness inside and out of work.

All jobs have ups and downs. Job burnout happens when the down happens for a long periods of time without a break. Signs may include:

  • Feeling cynical at work. Being overly critical. Not enjoying successes.
  • Being impatient or angry with customers or co-workers.
  • Having low energy at work or problems concentrating.
  • Difficulty doing job or meeting expectations
  • Low motivation to get to work.
  • Regular headaches, stomach aches, or other physical complaints.
  • Use of drugs, alcohol, or food to feel better.
  • Problems sleeping or oversleeping.

Balance between work and home life can also play a role. Pressure from home, long hours, and work travel can compete for time pulling you in different directions. Even if you enjoy your work these kind of pressures can wear you down and lead to burnout. If you also hate your job, these pressures can be even more crushing.

What Is at Risk?

Ups and downs are a part of life but long term consistent problems can hurt both physical and mental health. Long term stress can interrupt sleep and diet. It can also interfere with things you do to take care of yourself like exercise. This will add to miserable feelings. Long term stress can also increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and weaken the immune system.

Someone who is not feeling well, often sick, and miserable is not likely to do well and succeed in their job. This has a negative impact on the employee, their co-workers, and the company.

What Can You Do About It?

Life is never completely stress-free. You can not avoid stress but you can control the impact it has on your life. Some tips include:

  • If you know that a project or change at work is going to cause short-term stress focus the fact that it will end. Plan for vacation or time-off once the time has passed.
  • Create free time . It is easy to be always available for phone call, web meeting, or emails. Set boundaries for when work can happen. This may include shutting off electronics or not being available during certain hours. Carve out family, work and personal time. Make sure to set aside personal and rest time as well.
  • Practice being in the moment . Constantly multi-tasking can be exhausting. Give your mind a break and enjoy the moment you are in instead of thinking about things you will be doing later.
  • Adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Choose healthy foods and be physically active. Feeling better physically may help to lower stress.
  • Learn about relaxation skills. Find one that works best for you. It may include meditation, breathing exercise, going for a walk, or stretching. Try different ones to see which may work best for you. Tension can build. These skills may help you head off some tension before it begins.
  • Explore programs offered by your company . Peer programs, employee wellness, or other options may be available to help. They can help with stress management and may also help with career guidance.
  • Check back with your long-term life goals. See if your work is in line with your ethics. Is your current life on track with these goals? These goals may not be just about work but personal life too. Plan for changes if your are not on track. It may include looking for growth opportunities in your current job, shifting priorities, or finding a new job.

Is It Time to Change Jobs?

Changing jobs is not always the solution. First, some problems will only follow you. For instance, are poor time-management skills making you behind on your work? Are you taking on more than you can possibly do? Do you have trouble sharing responsibilities or saying no? These problems will follow you no matter where you are.

There are times, though, when the only solution is to make a break. If your goals do not mesh with your company's culture or if you do not see a path forward, you may have to say goodbye. Consider moving on if you take a break but return feeling just as tired and disinterested as when you left.

Change can be scary but is also a part of growth. Start by being honest with your current situation and life plans. Remembering those larger goals may be the motivation you need to make changes you want.


American Psychological Association


Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association


Burnout. Psychology Today website. Available at: Accessed May 21, 2020.
Job burnout: How to spot it and take action. May Clinic website. Available at: Updated November 21, 2018. Accessed May 21, 2020.
Valcour, M. When Burnout Is a Sign You Should Leave Your Job. Harvard Business Review website. Available at: Created January 25, 2020. Accessed May 21, 2020.
Workplace burnout: causes, effects, and solutions. Available at: Created June 6, 2019. Accessed May 21, 2020.

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Home |Terms and Conditions |Concerned About Privacy? |Accessibility |Careers |For Employers and Medical Plan Providers

You may also be looking for: CVS/pharmacy | MinuteClinic | Specialty Pharmacy | SilverScript | Accordant