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Psychologist details the five signs that reveal whether you are unknowingly struggling with the condition – which she likens to ‘mental illness’

  • Psychologist Dr Sherry Benton has detailed how career burnout can contribute to low mental health that often goes undiagnosed
  • Insomnia, exhaustion, no support, lack of pride, perfectionism and lack of downtime can all contribute to career burnout  
  •  In 2017, 61 per cent of American workers reportedly feeling ‘burnt out’ by their current job

For most workers, stress is just a hazard of the job.

But a psychologist is now shedding light on the difference between manageable job related stress and career burnout, likening the latter to a form of mental illness.

Speaking to Popsugar, psychologist Dr Sherry Benton who is also the founder of online therapy service TAO Connect, shared that while depression is a diagnosable disorder, managed by medication and treatment, career burnout can contribute to low mental health that often goes undiagnosed.  

According to research conducted by Career Builder in 2017, 61 per cent of American workers reportedly feeling ‘burnt out’ by their current job, and over a third have admitted to high or extremely high levels of work related stress and anxiety.

‘Too often we think about mental health and mental illness as a single dimension, but the two are separate constructs,’ she suggested. 

‘You can have a high level of mental health or a low level of mental health, and you can have more severe symptoms of mental illness or no symptoms.’ 

1. Insomnia and exhaustion

Disrupted sleep patterns are a clear sign of career burnout according to Dr Benton. She suggests that working should leave a person feeling energized and that getting a job done should feel rewarding at the end of the day. 

2. No support

Bad management or not having enough support staff can also contribute to burnout in the workplace.  And although working long hours may be inevitable in some jobs, ‘professional workaholics’ are doing more damage than good in the long run.

3. No sense of pride 

While overworking if often the most influential factor when dealing with career burnout, Dr Benton explained that often people can experience burnout when they work in a job that isn’t meaningful or doesn’t give a person a sense of pride – a ‘lifestyle mismatch’.

4. Trying to be perfect 

Dr Benton also revealed that striving for perfection and feeling frustrated when this cannot be achieved can quickly lead to burnout. 

When that’s your mindset, you arrive to the point of diminishing return,’ she explained. 

‘Your concentration falls apart, it’s hard to focus, and every task you do becomes more difficult and more complicated. It affects your entire brain’s memory system to try to work in a burnout state in a long period of time. 

‘You actually become far less effective, and you’re making yourself less competent by not having that balance in your life.’

5. No downtime

Having time for friends and family or a creative outlet not associated with work is the key to achieving work life balance according to Dr Benton, citing ‘multiple sources of well-being’ as essential to avoid career burnout.  

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