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Why You Feel So Drained

Updated: Feb 22

man holding his head

Alex had another sleepless night. He woke up at 2. a.m. and felt that chest pain he was now so used to it. Just the thought that he had to go to the office the next day and the pile of tasks waiting for him made him nauseous.

He started questioning if he had submitted that file on time or if he had analysed that agreement correctly. And there were so many unanswered e-mails that he felt the panic installing in his stomach.

He had been thinking for a long time about moving on, resigning, and getting another job that he might care about, but he lacked the courage to change things. What if all the jobs were the same, and what if he ended up in a worse place than his current company?

So, day after day, he embarked on his hamster wheel, feeling drained and exhausted and collapsing on the couch when arriving home. He didn’t know that he was, in fact, “burnt out” after so many months of work overload; he just felt sick and overwhelmed by his life.

He didn’t find any pleasure in the things he used to love; he almost stopped riding his bike because he felt too tired. He continued travelling on weekends but couldn’t switch off his ongoing brain. And, the fact that his manager put more pressure on him by assigning more tasks didn’t make things any better.

Burnout was included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon but wasn’t classified as a medical condition.

Burnout is defined in ICD-11 as follows[1]:

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Three dimensions characterise it:

·         feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;

·         increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and

·         reduced professional efficacy.

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

As in Alex’s case, burnout can occur for various reasons, and it's essential to identify the underlying causes to address and prevent it.

pouring tea in the mug

Here are some common reasons individuals experience burnout:


1. Workload and Stress: Two of the leading causes of burnout are an excessive workload and high-stress levels. When you consistently work long hours, have unrealistic deadlines, or face constant pressure, it can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion.

2. Lack of Control: Feeling like you have little control over your work or decision-making can contribute to burnout. When you have limited autonomy or are constantly micromanaged, it can lead to feelings of frustration and disengagement.

3. Lack of Support: Not having adequate support from colleagues, supervisors, or the organisation can contribute to burnout. It can be challenging to manage workload and stress without the necessary resources, guidance, or assistance. If the organisation accepts gossip or toxic colleagues, the environment gets worse and deepens that state of burnout.

4. Lack of Recognition: When your efforts and achievements go unnoticed or unappreciated, it can lead to feelings of demotivation and burnout. Recognition and rewards are essential for maintaining motivation and job satisfaction.

5. Work-Life Imbalance: If there is a significant imbalance between your work and personal life, it can contribute to burnout. When work demands consistently encroach on personal time and activities, it can lead to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. This could be exemplified by commute workers, who spend their free time travelling to and from their offices, having less personal time.

6. Values Misalignment: When your values and beliefs are not aligned with the organisation's values or the nature of your work, it can lead to burnout. Feeling like your work lacks purpose or meaning can be draining over time.

7. Lack of Boundaries: Failing to set and enforce boundaries between work and personal life can contribute to burnout. Constantly being available and unable to disconnect can lead to chronic stress and exhaustion.

8. Poor Work Environment: A toxic work environment characterised by conflict, negativity, or lack of support can contribute to burnout. It's essential to have a positive and supportive work culture that promotes well-being otherwise going to work could become one of the sickening factors for employees.

9. Personal Factors: Factors outside of work, such as personal health issues, family responsibilities, or financial stress, can also contribute to burnout. It's essential to address these factors and seek support when needed.

If you're experiencing burnout, taking proactive steps to address the underlying causes is essential. This may involve seeking support from a mentor, a coach or a therapist, setting boundaries, practising self-care, and considering adjustments to your workload or job responsibilities.

And if nothing works, try to analyse if you are in the right place for you. If the answer is “no”, put yourself out there and dare to make a change. It’s never too late to be true to yourself.


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