Feeling burned out? Learn the signs and ways to improve your health on the job and at home

By Regence
March 21, 2022
work life balance

If you’ve been feeling exhausted at work and unable to recharge, often referred to as burnout, know you’re not alone. In 2021, 79% of adult American workers experienced work-related stress according to American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2021 Work and Well-being Survey. Furthermore, 36% reported intellectual tiredness, 32% reported emotional exhaustion, and an astonishing 44% reported physical fatigue—a 38% increase since 2019.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a special type of work-related stress. The Mayo Clinic describes it as a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. One expert at the Mayo Clinic who studies burnout, Dr. Lotte Dyrbye, describes it as “a manifestation of chronic unmitigated stress”, and the World Health Organization officially recognized it as a work-related phenomenon in 2019. 

“Burnout is a chronic condition in the fact it doesn’t spring up overnight,” says Andree Miceli, clinical director of behavioral health at Regence. “We experience burnout with any mental and physical overload including things we enjoy. It builds over time and may appear as an explosion or a physical illness and recovery can take weeks, months or even years.”

Burnout isn’t a medical diagnosis, however some medical experts and researchers think that there is a link to other mental health conditions, such as depression, as well as individual traits, family history and lifestyle.

Causes and effects of burnout

Burnout can be caused by several factors including workload, job clarity and control, micromanagement, team culture, isolation, and work-life imbalance, to name just a few. The effects of burnout are equally diverse and will vary for each of us. The APA study reported nearly 3 in 5 employees described negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%) and lack of effort at work (19%). Ignored, burnout can influence your health from fatigue, sleepless nights, sadness and anger to more chronic conditions like substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Addressing burnout

If you’re feeling burnout, start by evaluating your options. This may include talking with your manager or HR person to improve your work environment and expectations. Evaluate your own mental well-being and see where you can find more balance in your life, like making time to exercise, journal or socialize. Speaking with a medical professional can also be beneficial and provide support to help you maintain stability.

Regence members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.