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The Definition Of Burnout


Updated January 22, 2011

The Definition Of Burnout

Burnout can result when you have high demands, low control, and not enough recognition.

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Definition: Burnout refers to a state of overwhelm, emotional listlessness and depression due to prolonged levels of high stress, usually related to excessive workplace or lifestyle demands. Symptoms of burnout can vary among individuals, but tend to include many of the following:
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of creativity
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or fatigue
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Dread of going to work
  • Anger
People at highest risk of burnout are those who feel a lack of control over their environment, have unclear expectations placed on them, receive little recognition, and lack social support, while having high performance expectations placed on them. (In other words, they feel like they're working a lot, with little reward, or there&'s no way to excel at their task, with no end in sight.)

Fortunately, steps can be taken to combat burnout. The following burnout resources can help you gain a deeper understanding of job burnout, and help you effectively combat it:

Also Known As: job burnout
"I'm working so hard and feeling exhausted, I think I'm at risk for burnout. I should subscribe to Elizabeth Scott's Free Stress Management Newsletter for tips on how to relieve some of this stress at work."

Specter, P.; Chen, P.; and O'Connell, B. (April 2000). A longitudinal study of relations between job stressors and job strains while controlling for prior negative affectivity and strains. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 85(2), Apr, 2000. pp. 211-218.

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