If you notice pain in your head or stomach, it could be Burnout

It’s no secret that Americans are burnt out at work. In December, an all-time high of 4.3 million workers left their jobs, citing concerns over the pandemic, low pay, poor work-life balance and a new disinterest in returning to office life. And it might be a good thing they did. While not a medical condition in itself, experts now say work-related burnout can still take a physical toll over time. In fact, they warn that if you experience certain types of pain, it could be a manifestation of your career stress — and a therapist may be just the person to help you get through it. Read on to find out which symptom is a red flag that your job is wearing you down mentally and physically, and what to do if it happens to you.

RELATED: 23 Terrifying Ways Stress Wreaks Havoc on Your Body.

Experts explain that, in practice, workplace burnout works a lot like chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as exhaustion disorder. The longer work stress affects you without relief, the more likely you are to experience physical symptoms.

According to a 2014 study published in BMC Psychiatry that looked at Swedish subjects suffering from chronic fatigue, there are two symptoms in particular that tend to occur under these circumstances: headache and stomach pain. In fact, 65% of subjects reported headaches and 67% reported stomach pains with other gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and indigestion.

Away from the only physical manifestations of stress at work, the Mayo Clinic adds that you can also experience insomnia, alcohol or substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and low immune function as a result of workplace burnout.

RELATED: Your COVID Stress Can Cause This Deadly Heart Condition, Study Finds.

To complicate matters further, if you are suffering from burnout, you may also be experiencing depression or anxiety. These two mental health conditions can build up to physical symptoms even when the person experiencing them is unaware of the underlying cause, studies say.

“Physical symptoms are common in depression, and in fact, vague aches and pains are often the symptoms of depression,” says a 2004 study in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychology. “These symptoms include chronic joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, sleep disturbances, changes in psychomotor activity, and changes in appetite, which can make depression very difficult to diagnose,” the researchers explain. .

A recent survey published in the Harvard Business Review found that 90% of respondents across 40 countries felt that the stress of their jobs had become more difficult to manage during the coronavirus pandemic. Another 60 percent admitted that they experienced professional burnout frequently.

In addition to the obvious complications brought on by the pandemic, the Mayo Clinic says there are a number of other factors that can contribute to workplace burnout. This includes lack of control over decisions that affect your work (such as “schedule, tasks or workload”), unclear work expectations, dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics among colleagues, extreme activities (whether “monotonous or chaotic”), lack of of social support and having a poor work-life balance.

If you can’t quit your job or make major changes, you can still talk to your employer about how to address one or more of these individual issues.

Physical illnesses with mental causes still need to be treated. “It’s very easy to ignore your own symptoms, especially in our culture where we’re taught to work hard,” Jessi Gold, MD, a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis, recently told The New York Times. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you may be better able to deal with work stress if you “turn to co-workers, friends, or loved ones” for “support and collaboration.”

What you do outside of work can also have a healing effect. Getting enough sleep and sunlight, exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness, connecting with others, and finding healthy ways to relax can all have a positive impact.

And, if your symptoms are severe enough to cause physical symptoms, it’s worth seeing a therapist about possible solutions. They can address some of the deeper underlying issues and provide the tools you need to tackle workplace challenges.

RELATED: If These 2 Body Parts Hurt You, It Could Be a Sign of Cancer, Study Says.

Leave a Comment