Some people may think workplace stress is cool, but this belief will last only till they experience it. Burnout is a real issue, even in people who absolutely adore their job, or have willingly taken the plunge to do it. In fact, burnout has nothing to do with the quality of work. If you are constantly worrying about how much you work, then you may be suffering from burnout.
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It is a well-guarded secret in the startup world that burnout rates are higher and most people may even be battling clinical depression. Yet, we rarely attribute symptoms to burnout, instead passing them off as ‘a bad day’ or ‘some vitamin deficiency’.
Here are seven signs that you need a break, or perhaps that you even need to quit.
- You’re becoming a cynic. Perhaps you’ve always been, but you cannot talk about work without a sarcastic undertone to it. On the one hand, you are upset with your workplace and on the other, you try to lighten the mood with dry jokes about it
- You cannot sleep. There is perhaps no better sign that something is wrong than not being able to sleep peacefully after a long day. You’re exhausted, but you cannot fall asleep because you’re thinking about work.
- You’re not constantly hungry, or you’re too hungry. You’re binging on all kinds of unhealthy foods to distract yourself from the bottomless pit, which is work. At the other extreme, you may constantly find yourself skipping meals to get something done.
- You think you can never take a day off. You’ve begun to believe that taking a break would mean the end of the world. Even your manager says so. When you are sick, you’d much rather cough and sneeze at work than feel guilty at home. There’s just no time to see a doctor and get tested for your illness.
- You criticise yourself all the time. More often than not, this criticism is baseless and isn’t about anything concrete. You find yourself saying things like, “I don’t have the skill to do that” or “I’m not good enough”, both to yourself and to the people around you. What’s more, if a superior is criticising you, you don’t stand up for yourself, instead believing that they’re right.
- You’re tired all the time. The cycle of not enough sleep and unhealthy eating have led you to being fatigued day in and day out. You don’t have the time or the inclination to explore options, instead choosing to look away from the fatigue.
- You talk about dreams as though they’ll never happen. “I wanted to study further”, “I wanted to go home over the holidays”, “I wanted to see Greece” are all examples of how your dreams now belong in the past. You’ve begun to believe that this is the reality of your life and there is no way out. This only serves to make you feel worse.
Still not sure if this is what burnout looks like? Here are some more symptoms. If you’re exhibiting most of these, maybe it is time to take a break, or even seek professional help. Take a day off, eat out, do something you enjoy, and then consider what’s making you feel this way.
If you’re a startup founder questioning everything, beat the blues with some of these handy tips. More often than not, getting better doesn’t involve quitting your job - there are less severe ways to cure it.