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What Are the Causes of Burnout at Work? Are You Suffering from It?

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

Feeling emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, or overwhelmed by stress? You're experiencing burnout. Find out what are the main causes of burnout at work.

Workplace stress is a silent killer.

It increases blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of having a heart attack. Our life quality may be at risk too, as it is not unusual for stress to be accompanied by an anxiety disorder or depression.

We become irritated easily. We lose interest in things we are usually excited about. And when you close your eyes, ready to get through the rough days, you find yourself having a sleep disorder.

If you think it’s just “one of those days”, it’s not. It’s a symptom of something more serious: burning out and losing the passion for your work.

Whether we work to live or live to work, we don’t want to die young. Yes, workplace stress can kill us - literally. Even the most passionate employee can suddenly be trapped into burnout.

To live a long, happy, and more productive life, we need to avoid burnout. And before we’re able to do that, we need to know the causes. Let’s explore the question: “What are the causes of burnout at work?”

01 - The Silent Killer DreamGravity - What Are the Causes of Burnout at Work

Losing Your Passion - When the flame is burning out

The flame is indeed eternal. It is always there, igniting your passion. But if you fail to keep it in check for too long, it will burn you out. You need to resolve the problem immediately before it drags you down.

While burnout will eventually go away with “little treatment”, or even without you having to do anything, it goes in the constant loop. The cycle will surely hit you again, stronger. If it is left untreated, it may cause you to lose your passion permanently. As a result, you will no longer have the excitement and extra energy to walk another mile as you used to.

You can spot common causes of burnout immediately. What are the causes of burnout at work? Here are some of the workplace conditions that contribute to giving up on the reasons you love your work in the first place.

1. Emotional Fatigue from the “Same Old” Routines

Every business needs to go in a predictable and measurable way. That’s why there are routines. But doing too many of them for too long can put you on the road to burnout. You’re tired and whatever you do at work is simply robotic, no emotion attached - the passion is gone.

We take our routine for granted, but it’s one of the causes of burnout. Paulo Coelho put it this way, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.”

02 - Emotional Fatique DreamGravity - What Are the Causes of Burnout at Work

Get the work done, go home, and repeat. This cycle will keep on going. Sometimes the boredom will fade away. But when it hits you back, you might be unprepared. Ignoring the nature of this cycle will ruin not only your career but also your personal matters.

The first victim might be your creativity. The next one could be your passion. That’s why the best video games are the ones with sandbox modes. Explore, find the unexpected, create your world, do things differently. Creativity and enthusiasm are your longtime friends. If you put your job into a “sandbox” state of mind, you will experience something fresh and diverse. After that, you might rediscover your interest.

2. Depersonalization

Every person is unique. But in many cases at work, you’re just one of the many cogs in the big machine. You feel that you’re just a tool. The lack of personalization can turn you into a cynical person. It’s hard to keep the normal, well, normal.

Albert Camus said, “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to appear to be normal.”

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You don’t trust your colleagues and the people around you. You feel that everyone is driven by greed; they do things because of their desire to fulfill their ambition. The world we live in is the world of materialism. That sort of feeling will drag you to cynicism. Your family might be the ones who notice this. When you realize you’re in this alarming state, make sure you’re aware that this is only the symptom, not the culprit.

Don’t push yourself too hard.

3. Lack of a Sense of Individual Achievement

Being a part of something big can nullify personal accomplishment. In the long term, it can lead to the lack of a sense of individual achievement. You see yourself as a failure. You “haven’t done much”. We tend to blame ourselves for the little reward and promotion we have had these past several years. We blame our company, the people around us, sometimes family, and the world. You carry the world on your shoulder. It costs too much.

Again, this is just another symptom that tends to magnify and dramatize negative thoughts.

Slow down. Share the load. Or as Lena Horne said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

04 - Lack of a Sense of Individual Achievement DreamGravity - What Are the Causes of Burnout at Work

4. Being drifted, distracted… lost

Like a pilot, you must decide on a destination before you get your plane airborne. One can’t just take off, be “creative”, and “expect the unexpected” just to get the excitement back. You need to know your destination. Sometimes we have drifted away from our initial life idealism that we forget where we’re originally going.

Remember the time when you had a purpose? Remember how alive you felt? Your purpose drives your mind and soul. Let’s correct your course and get back to your path.