The phrase “feeling burned out” has been recurring more frequently with the rise of awareness of job satisfaction and self-care. We all tend to feel burned out from our jobs and activities at one point or another, but how do we know if we are genuinely burned out or are just lazy?
To know if you are burned out or lazy, you shouldn’t just look at your productivity levels. You should analyze your overall mood, how you handle stress, the quality of satisfaction you feel from your work, and show any physical symptoms.
Burn out can cause many long-term problems for people in the workforce and can be caused by many factors such as being overworked, low pay, and lack of support or consistent poor treatment from superiors. Many things can lead to being burned out, but sometimes the signs and feelings of being burned out can overlap with laziness.
Difference Between Being Burned Out and Lazy
Sometimes the way people present being burned out and lazy can overlap. They are similar in the sense that they both have:
- Reduced or low productivity
- Seeming constantly distracted
- Having a dislike towards the job
- Feeling overworked
While being lazy is a habit that can be worked on and improved over time, being burned out results from chronic stress in an environment that will eventually have physical manifestations in your body if you do not make changes.
Causes of Burn Out
Many people think that burn out just comes from having a high-stress job where every decision you make can have an enormous impact on something; however, this isn’t the case when it comes to stress at a job. Even people who love their jobs and what they do can experience burnout because no matter how much you love your work, stressors can cause burnout.
Many work stressors don’t have to do with decisions at work; they come from:
- Unclear instructions and inadequate training
- Unfair treatment between employees
- Low pay for high work experience
- Heavy workloads with seemingly impossible deadlines
- Conflicts and relationships within the workplace
- Poor relationship with superiors
Each of these aspects and many more can cause people to become burned out from their jobs and lead to many physical and mental problems if they aren’t addressed. People who feel burned out will experience these things and eventually get physical feelings, whereas lazy people will be detached from these things’ emotional and physical aspects.
Causes of Laziness
Unfortunately, people who are burned out may be perceived by their superiors as lazy, especially because of low productivity. This gives a bad rap to people who are burned out because the issues in the workplace won’t be solved.
Studies over the past 50 years have shown that laziness is a habit that is usually attributed to a lack of motivation and rewards. Studies have also shown that intelligence plays a role in why people are lazy.
Are Lazy People and Procrastinators the Same?
Tons of people procrastinate doing tasks and activities, but procrastinating is not always the same thing as being lazy. Sure, lazy people may procrastinate, but it is usually from a lack of reward or motivation to complete the task.
People who are chronic procrastinators aren’t usually lazy. People who procrastinate often have poor time management skills or subconsciously work better under the pressure of completing a task in a small amount of time, which can be at the expense of others or themselves.
How to Know You’re Burned Out
When you’re burned out, recognizing the signs can be hard. However, it’s important to be aware of them before someone else notices and it negatively impacts your relationship with others.
Your Emotions and Mood Have Changed
People who are burned out from their jobs can still have decent productivity, but unlike lazy people, people who are burned out are more likely to feel:
If you usually are not this type of person and find yourself snapping at coworkers or clients, or you’re reluctant to do tasks to help someone, you’re more than likely burned out. People who are burned out can also develop depression, anxiety and can also fear that they make many mistakes with their work.
You Start Having Physical Symptoms
People with burnout will feel an array of physical symptoms from having to work, whereas lazy people will not feel these:
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Headaches and migraines
- Stomach problems such as indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome
You Truly Hate Your Job
Lazy people may dislike their job for many reasons, but if you feel that you dread waking up every morning and are finding yourself slowly making your way towards work, you are most likely burned out.
People who hate their job will also often start progressively arriving to work later or finding reasons to get out of work. If you are already doing this, you should take advantage of the extra time and start looking for another job before your work reputation is tarnished.
You’re no Longer Close With Your Coworkers.
Most people who work become friendly with their coworkers due to proximity and a common interest. It’s widespread to go out for lunch or drinks after work for coworkers who get along; however, if you’re burned out, your relationship with your coworkers can start to deteriorate.
You’ll find you’re not going out with your coworkers or socializing with them as often. A big reason for this is that they remind you of what is making you burned out. Coworkers can also cause you to feel responsible for their mistakes or try to add to your workload.
Coworkers and superiors can also cause stressors for people with microaggressive behaviors, discrimination in the workplace, gossip and drama, and salary and vacation time disparities.
Personal relationships can also become tarnished due to burnout. Your loved ones and friends may start to dread talking to you because you might complain about your job frequently if you’re burned out.
You Have Difficulties Concentrating
Lazy people can have difficulties concentrating, but people who are burned out can typically focus, and this is something that they are newly experiencing. Concentration can be difficult when you’re burned out for many reasons, including:
- Anxiety and preoccupations about the quality of your work
- Daydreaming about being in a better place
- Focusing on too many tasks
- Feeling apathy towards your job and work tasks.
Problems with Being Burned Out for too Long
Since one of the predecessors of being burned out for too long is workplace stress, being stressed for too long can lead to burnout. Being stressed and burned out from work can lead to many physical and mental ailments that will need to be treated. If not treated, chronic high-stress and burnout can lead to long-term problems.
Here is an excellent guide on how to know if you’re experiencing a lot of workplace stress and are on the path to becoming burned out. You can also take this short test to evaluate if you are burned out.
What to do if You’re Burned Out
If you notice that you have some or all of these signs or have taken a test to see if you’re burned out, there are several things you can do. Firstly, you need to discover why you’re burned out. Once you figure out what your stressors are, you can try to find ways to address them. If not, there are other ways for you to reignite your passion for your work.
Recovering from burnout doesn’t just happen overnight or with a week’s vacation away from work. Many people who suffer from burnout take months to heal and have to make significant lifestyle changes.
Discover why You’re Burned Out
Knowing the reason why you’re burned out is an essential first step to fixing burnout. If you do many things to remedy your burnout but don’t address why you’re experiencing burnout, it will repeat itself, and you’ll be stuck in an unhealthy cycle with your job.
The best way to do this is to keep a journal. It can be on your phone or in a notebook but try not to let any coworkers see it. Write down any time you experience a stressor that triggers you to have stress, anxiety, or you’re feeling uncomfortable—Journal about your feelings towards coworkers and events within the workplace. Analyze your writings each day to find stressors.
Another way you can do this is to take time off of work. Not many people who are burned out from their jobs can do this, but if you can, try to take a few sick or personal days to look into and reflect on your workdays and feelings.
Once you know why you’re burned out, see what ways you can address the issues. Sometimes it may involve gaining the courage to ask for a raise and defend your quality of work. Other times you may have to confront your superior or go to human resources if you feel like you’re being discriminated against within your workplace by superiors or coworkers.
Self-care has become an extremely popular expression over the past decade, and the meaning is often misunderstood. Self-care is to do things to take care of yourself and improve your health. Many people have distorted the idea of self-care to getting manicures, massages, other spa treatments, and going shopping. However, in the long-run, these don’t help you.
Self-care can come in many forms, including learning how to advocate for yourself and changing your career path. Some of the best ways to practice self-care when you’re burned out are to:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Drink enough water
- Pace yourself at work
- Quit smoking
- Get enough rest and sleep.
- See a doctor if you need to
- Practice meditation and mindfulness
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness have many benefits and restorative potential for when you are burned out. When you meditate, you focus on your breath and tune out any stressors and distractions. When you are mindful, you become aware of your surroundings’ small aspects, such as how food tastes and the birds singing outside your window.
Practicing meditation and mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety at the moment and help you be able to cope with them if practiced enough. Doing these practices will also be restorative if you are burned out from your job. They can also provide mental clarity for you to make important decisions about your career and how to confront your stressors.
Some excellent ways to practice meditation and mindfulness are:
- Watch a guided meditation video.
- Live in the moment
- Cook your meals and pay attention to each sensory aspect as you’re cooking and eating it, like how Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches in his raisin exercise.
Exercise is a fantastic way to escape and cope with feeling burned out. You should make time every day to at least go for a walk to get your body moving.
When you are burned out, you’re under a lot of stress. Hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are frequently high, and they can wreak havoc on your body. When you exercise, you release endorphins, which help to lower the stress hormones. People feel happier and even elated when they have higher levels of endorphins, such as a runner’s high.
Some fantastic ways to fit exercise into your day are:
- Go for a fast-paced 15-minute walk.
- Practice some desk exercises
- Work with a physical trainer or go to the gym.
- Practice yoga
Consider Changing Your Career or Job
While this is the most significant step, sometimes this may be the best option for helping you cope with and become relieved from burnout. Many people cannot afford to leave or change their jobs, and they also can’t take time off for interviews.
Before changing your career or job, make a list of pros and cons to staying at your current job. If you’re experiencing burnout, you’ll probably have more cons than pros. You should also look at the journal of stressors to see if any of the cons and stressors can be worked with or changed, such as talking to your boss or someone from human resources.
Even if you love your career and how fulfilling it can be, feeling burned out will affect your work quality and may even lead you to resent your career. It might even just be the workplace that is causing you to be burned out.
When applying for jobs and going on interviews, your goal should be to find a job and find a job that you can see yourself being happy at. See if you can get a tour of the workplace and get a feel for the atmosphere before accepting a job offer if you are offered one. At the interview, discuss with the interviewer roles and tasks and make sure they are clear.
Seek Therapy or Counselling
Some of the worst parts of being burned out are developing anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Even further, people with burnout can develop suicidal ideations.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (US phone number), call the emergency number, or go to the nearest hospital. Someone is always available to talk and help you.
Seeking therapy and counselling when you are burned out is extremely important to start feeling better. Having someone to talk to regarding your thoughts and emotions while processing everything is vital for feeling validated. Finding the right form of therapy, therapist, or counsellor isn’t magic and can take a few tries to build a stable relationship.
The benefits of seeing a therapist or counsellor are that you can process your burnout in a safe space, help decide what you will do in the future to prevent burnout, and learn techniques to manage stress, anxiety, or other things you are experiencing being burned out.
What to do if You’re Lazy
Laziness has been a common problem in the workplace and is often what managers and supervisors think some of their employees have, even if they are burned out.
Being lazy is a habit that developed over a person’s lifetime. Studies have shown that laziness can be from a lack of motivation or rewards. Studies have also found that lazy people tend to work more efficiently; however, they will feel little personal gain from the task.
One of the hardest things for a lazy person to do is find the motivation to do something. From washing the dishes to checking your emails, laziness can plague our personal and work lives. However, how can you find the motivation to do specific tasks, no matter how monotonous they are?
Create a Personal Rewards System
An excellent way to find motivation in doing tasks and working (besides getting the task out of the way) is to create a personal rewards system. This works like positive reinforcement, where you reward behavior that you want to see repeated. Parents do it all the time with allowance for their kids to do chores.
However, as an adult, creating your own personal rewards system can be challenging. A great way to work towards this is to create a money jar and a reminder system with a big reward at the end. It could be a weekend vacation, a small shopping spree, anything that will persuade you into breaking laziness. Add some money to the jar every time you complete a task.
In time, you will see that your home is clean, you’re eating healthier, you’re not dreading doing any tasks, and you get a big reward at the end of all of it.
Learn to Work More Efficiently
Lazy people have been known to be some of the most efficient workers because they want to get their job done, so they don’t have to continue working. Another problem with laziness is that lazy people tend to get distracted and procrastinate or become idle.
Learning how to work efficiently is a great way to break out of the habit of being lazy.
Consider Changing Your Career or Job
As with people who are burned out, lazy people may have to consider changing their career or job. Sometimes at work, it can be challenging to find the motivation to be productive throughout the day. A big part of it is that you’re unhappy with your tasks, or you’re not motivated for the outcome of your work, your salary, or the benefits you receive.
If you’re changing your job from a lack of motivation, try taking a course at a local school or online to help you find inspiration for something that you enjoy and want to work towards. Once you find it, you can see if you can find any jobs or careers in that field so you will be willing to work and be productive.
Being lazy can be fixed as long as you find the motivation and rewards to get your work done. Burnout is something much more severe that requires reflection and lifestyle changes. It may even require seeking professional help or changing your job or career.
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What 5 Signs Can you identify to burnout? ›
- Sense of failure and self-doubt.
- Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.
- Detachment, feeling alone in the world.
- Loss of motivation. Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
- You feel overwhelmed by day-to-day activities. ...
- You're starting to resent people and feel disconnected from others. ...
- You find yourself getting easily irritated with people. ...
- You feel extremely tired all the time. ...
- You feel like you're losing joy and motivation.
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you find it hard to concentrate?
What we call laziness is a symptom, not the problem itself. Sometimes it's a symptom of de-prioritisation, sometimes of an illness. And sometimes, it's a symptom of burnout.What are five causes of burnout? ›
Common causes of burnout include: lack of adequate social support; taking on more than one can handle at work, school, or interpersonally with family and friends; and poor self-care. Burnout is a serious matter.What are the key indicators of burnout? ›
- Sense of failure or self-doubt.
- Decreased satisfaction.
- Feeling detached or alone in the world.
- Loss of motivation.
- Track your stress levels. ...
- Identify your stressors. ...
- Create a habit of journaling. ...
- Seek professional help from a coach or therapist. ...
- Build a support network. ...
- Get enough exercise. ...
- Speak up for yourself. ...
- Learn stress management techniques.
Yes, doing something you hate every day can take a toll on your body, but a dislike of your job is less likely to manifest itself in your body the same way true burnout would. If symptoms like headaches, backaches, panic attacks, or stomach issues are weighing you down, it's likely burnout that you're dealing with.What are the 3 types of burnout? ›
- Overload burnout: when you continue to work at an unsustainable pace, clocking long hours without mental breaks.
- Under-challenged burnout: when you are not being challenged or stimulated by your job. ...
- Neglect: you don't feel a sense of purpose, and find it hard to stay engaged at your job.
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.
What causes burnout in healthcare? ›
Workplace systems cause burnout among health workers. There are a range of societal, cultural, structural, and organizational factors that contribute to burnout among health workers. Some examples include: excessive workloads, administrative burdens, limited say in scheduling, and lack of organizational support.How do you know if you are on edge? ›
- High levels of stress or anxiety. Feeling frequently on edge, with adrenaline constantly coursing through your body.
- Lack of engagement. ...
- Increased cynicism. ...
- Distracted eating. ...
- Not getting enough sleep. ...
- Low energy and exhaustion. ...
- Never enough time. ...
- Excessive worrying, high level of self-criticism.
If you're feeling lazy you typically procrastinate on important tasks, feel tired frequently, feel a lack of self-worth, and are distracted easily.Why am I so lazy and unmotivated at work? ›
Common causes for demotivation at work:
You aren't maintaining a healthy work-life balance. You are mentally exhausted or burned out. You're impaired by external stressors (like a pandemic, or personal challenges) You're not feeling inspired by your work, or enjoying your position.
Anyone exposed to chronically stressful conditions can experience burnout, but human services employees, first responders, and those in educational services are at an even higher risk, especially as the public continues to resist COVID-19 prevention measures.What are 5 strategies to avoid burnout and reduce stress? ›
- Work with purpose.
- Perform a job analysis, and eliminate or delegate unnecessary work.
- Give to others.
- Take control, and actively manage your time.
- Get more exercise.
- Learn how to manage stress.
1. Workload. Overwork is a main cause of burnout. Working too many hours is responsible for the deaths of millions of people every year, likely because overwork makes people suffer weight loss, body pain, exhaustion, high levels of cortisol, sleep loss, and more.What are the 7 ways to avoid burnout? ›
- Embrace your stress. It's the lack of control that makes most of us anxious. ...
- Build Resilience. Resilience protects us from the negative effects of stress. ...
- Exercise. ...
- Eat a balanced diet. ...
- Practice good sleep habits. ...
- Express gratitude - often. ...
- Ask for help.
- Feeling tired or drained most of the time.
- Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated.
- Feeling detached/alone in the world.
- Having a cynical/negative outlook.
- Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
Burnout involves three distinct symptoms: energy depletion and exhaustion, depersonalization and cynicism, and reduced efficacy. Workplace loneliness is more straightforward than burnout, although no less distressing.
How do you manage burnout in healthcare? ›
- Take time off before burnout sets in. ...
- Connect with friends and colleagues to reduce feelings of isolation.
- Keep your appointments with your regular physicians to maintain good physical and mental health.
- Prioritize employee well-being and stress management. ...
- Authentically support both managers and employees. ...
- Provide recovery time and breaks. ...
- Allow employees to set boundaries. ...
- Build social connections. ...
- Help employees find their purpose. ...
- Encourage flexible work arrangements.
You can try to work out the problems you're having with colleagues or your manager—but know that sometimes they're not fixable. You're consistently stressed, negative, and/or unhappy at work. If you get anxious or unhappy just thinking about work, that's a good sign that it's time to move on, Sutton Fell says.Is it OK to tell your boss you're burned out? ›
Talking to your boss about burnout can benefit your well-being. It is a way to open the door to constructive conversations that can help get you back on track and feel better about work. With support, this may improve your job gratification and overall performance.Should you change jobs if you're burned out? ›
After weighing your options, leaving your current job or career can be challenging, but it can also be worth it in the long term — especially if it translates to improved mental, physical and emotional well-being.What are examples of burnout? ›
Alienation from (work-related) activities: People who have burnout find their jobs increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may start being cynical about their working conditions and their colleagues. At the same time, they may increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and start feeling numb about their work.How common is burnout in healthcare? ›
This Surgeon General's Advisory outlines how we can all help heal those who have sacrificed so much to help us heal.” , with up to 54% of nurses and physicians, and up to 60% of medical students and residents, suffering from burnout.What are two problems caused by burnout amongst healthcare staff? ›
Consequences of burnout are decreased job satisfaction,54 absenteeism,55 turnover in personnel,54,56 and cynicism. These effects at work frequently have repercussions on personal life such as feeling unhappy, anxiety, depression, isolation, substance abuse, frictional and broken relationships and divorce.What do you call a person who gets angry easily? ›
Irritable, testy, touchy, irascible are adjectives meaning easily upset, offended, or angered.What are signs of a nervous breakdown? ›
- Low self-esteem.
- Feeling helpless.
- Getting angry easily.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Losing interest in your favorite activities.
What anxiety does to your body? ›
When you feel anxious you might have racing thoughts but also physical symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, tense muscles, trembling, a rapid heartbeat, and pain and bloating in your abdomen. These are all the results of the stress response when the body releases cortisol as it prepares for “fight or flight.”What are examples of lazy workers? ›
- They seem to always be away from their desks. ...
- They seem to be always under stress. ...
- They take extra long breaks. ...
- They keep complaining about being busy. ...
- They keep delegating their work to others. ...
- They can't keep up with a deadline or keep postponing tasks. ...
- Their body language reveals laziness.
Laziness (also known as indolence) is disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to act or to exert oneself. It is often used as a pejorative; terms for a person seen to be lazy include "couch potato", "slacker", and "bludger".What are the traits of a lazy person? ›
- First, lazy people tend to postpone work later. ...
- Second, lazy people blame others and the environment and try to make excuses like this. ...
- Third, a lazy person should do 'what they want to do' rather than 'work to do'.
Having no motivation to work leads to procrastination and poor focus. This may be caused by experiencing burnout, working in a toxic environment, or feeling you have no control over your role. Working in short bursts is one of the best strategies to get you over times of low motivation.Is it normal to not want to work? ›
Remember, it is totally normal to feel like you don't want to work. Take a mental health day.How do you motivate a lazy worker? ›
- Really try to understand the reason behind the behavior. ...
- Encourage them to make time tracking into a habit. ...
- Strive to maintain healthy attitudes in the team. ...
- Use training as an incentive. ...
- Make them face the possible consequences.
Being a "Type A" personality (or even just working closely with someone who is) can cause chronic stress, which increases your risk for burnout. If you find yourself being impatient with people and life's minor hassles and having trouble keeping from lashing out at people, you might be a "Type A" personality.Does burnout cause people to quit? ›
Is burnout and stress on your list of good reasons to quit a job? If your job has lost its luster and you feel like the long hours, pressure and anxiety aren't worth it anymore; you're not alone. Every day, people quit their jobs due to the emotional exhaustion and chronic stress of demanding roles.Which is worse stress or burnout? ›
Burnout is the accumulation of unchecked and built up stress over a period of time. Think of burnout as the larger, meaner, older brother of stress. It requires stress to exist, but you can have stress without being burnt out.
What are the three signs of burnout? ›
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
- Increased mental distance from your job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your job.
- Reduced professional efficacy.
You may feel drained and unable emotionally to deal with problems around you, both professional and personal. You may experience extreme tiredness and low feelings, leaving you without energy. These symptoms can show themselves in physical pain, stomach, or bowel problems.What burnout looks and feels like? ›
It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time. Common signs of burnout: Feeling tired or drained most of the time. Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated.What does burnout in the workplace look like? ›
Burnout involves three distinct symptoms: energy depletion and exhaustion, depersonalization and cynicism, and reduced efficacy. Workplace loneliness is more straightforward than burnout, although no less distressing. Loneliness is defined as having inadequate social relationships with others.What is the most common type of burnout? ›
Overload burnout occurs when you work harder and more frantically to achieve success, often to the detriment of your health and personal life. This is the type of burnout that most people are familiar with, and it's also the most common.What are behaviors of burnout? ›
The commonly cited symptoms of burnout include "an overwhelming sense of exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, and a sense of professional ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment." But these are just the ways that burnout manifests itself in daily life.