Dr. Fernstrom: Are you at risk for job burnout?

Chronic workplace stress can often lead to physical and emotional health risks, including fatigue, insomnia, sadness, anger and more.
NBC News health editor Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski.
NBC News health editor Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski.Miller Hawkins

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By Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD

No workplace is stress-free, and it’s normal to experience some pressure. But it’s also important to strive for a healthy work environment, one where you feel productive, valued and appropriately challenged.

Job burnout was officially recognized by the World Health Organization this year and is described as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that’s not adequately managed. This stress can often lead to physical and emotional health risks, including fatigue, insomnia, sadness, anger and more.

So how do you avoid job burnout? The first step is recognizing the symptoms associated with this syndrome. Here are some below, in addition to some strategies to help resolve them.

It’s important to note that many of these symptoms overlap with other mental health and medical conditions, so make sure to check with your doctor for additional explanations and treatment.

Risk factors for job burnout

Ask yourself these questions:

-Do you work so hard you lack any work-life balance?

-Do you have excessively high work demands regularly?

-Do you have little or no control over your work life?

-Do you try to be all things to all people (at work and at home)?

If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, you can be at risk for job burnout. Many people don’t even recognize the symptoms of burnout, but definitely know they don’t feel “like themselves.”

What can help? You might need to manage stress better, adjust your workload or change your interaction with co-workers. Sometimes a new job might be needed.

Check out these common symptoms of job burnout:

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Emotional:

-Feeling disconnected from work tasks, and having a hard time getting through the work week.

-Losing interest in new projects and challenges (especially when you’ve enjoyed them before).

-Finding it hard to focus and concentrate on work tasks.

-Lacking motivation or interest in work-related activities.

-Feeling easily annoyed with co-workers (and often your family and friends).

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Physical:

-Feeling unusually fatigued, even with adequate sleep.

-Trouble falling or staying asleep.

-Frequent headaches.

-An upset stomach or other digestive problems.

-Changes in appetite (overeating or loss of appetite)

-Often feeling sad or angry without reason.

-High blood pressure

How to address job burnout

A good place to begin is talking to your friends or family about your work life. Sharing your thoughts with a trusted resource will often help you formulate an action plan. It might be as simple as taking a few days of vacation, speaking with your supervisor or even looking for a new position. In the meantime, try these practical tips to help managing your symptoms:

-Find ways to self-soothe (deep breathing, meditation, a walk, a chat with a friend)

-Take a few “me-minutes” every day.

-Learn to be mindful ⁠— be aware of what you’re seeing and hearing.

-Acknowledge your feelings.

-Make your health a priority.

-Set professional boundaries.

Some of these suggestions might help you manage the workplace stressors that can readily sabotage a balanced life.

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D. is the NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.