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More Than Exhaustion: Understanding and Combating Burnout
More Than Exhaustion: Understanding and Combating Burnout

In a fast-paced society like Singapore, it can seem as if nothing is more admirable than overworking. It is common to see social media posts about individuals getting too little sleep and leaving the office too late; unfortunately, the sentiment that poor work-life balance signals respectable commitment is a popular one. As such, many wear burnout as a badge of honour.

However, burnout is anything but glamorous and has serious consequences for individuals’ health and well-being. This article will delve into the phenomenon of burnout and how you can combat it.

What is burnout?

Burnout refers to a state of exhaustion—on physical, mental, and emotional levels—resulting from chronic stress. It can lower energy and productivity levels, affecting all aspects of your life.

It has become such a concern that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has altered its definition, calling it an “occupational phenomenon” resulting from prolonged workplace stress that has not been effectively managed.

According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, burnout has three main components (Maslach & Jackson, 1981).

1. Exhaustion: Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue that cannot be cured by sleep.

2. Cynicism: An indifference or negative attitude towards the world.

3. Inefficacy: Feeling incapable or insecure about performing effectively.

Burnout or fatigue? 

Burnout is more than just exhaustion.

When you are fatigued, you can recharge your body and mind: you could catch up on sleep or indulge in hobbies to recover from physical exhaustion and enter a more positive state of mind.

Burnout is not as easy to recover from. Getting eight hours of sleep doesn’t get rid of your exhaustion. The activities you used to do for fun are no longer enjoyable and do not rejuvenate you at all.

Some other common signs include:

– Feeling out of control

– Feelings of hopelessness

– Reduced productivity at work

– Procrastinating

– Becoming more isolated

Effects of burnout

Burnout is closely associated with poor mental and physical health, with depression, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, and a weakened immune system being common among individuals experiencing burnout.

Therefore, it is essential to combat burnout effectively.

Recognise that you are experiencing burnout

It is always essential to identify a problem before it can be treated effectively. Hence, the first step to combating burnout is to recognise that you are experiencing it.

Unfortunately, this can be challenging. Burnout often creeps up on you slowly; it can be difficult to realise exactly when your professional life is weighing on you.

Hence, you should practise regularly asking yourself: “How am I feeling at this moment?” Are you feeling tired? Do you feel worse when performing a particular task?

These questions help you better understand yourself so you can take steps to improve your well-being.

Adjust work-life balance

Take some time to consider how you’re managing your professional life. Are you working long hours? Is your work eating into your personal time? Is your workload overwhelming?

If you find that your professional life is taking a toll on you, it is crucial to take a step back and establish boundaries between your work and personal life. Some things to consider include:

– Scheduling a firm end time for your workday

– Schedule time to destress

– Turn off notifications once the workday ends


Burnout is a serious issue that requires immediate attention; it negatively impacts your physical, mental, and emotional health. Therefore, taking stock of how you’re doing and adjusting your work-life balance is crucial.

If you’d like extra guidance on dealing with burnout, consider ExecutiveCounselling.com, as we provide private counselling online in Singapore. We also offer infidelity and marriage counselling, life coaching services, and career counselling for professionals.


Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1981). The measurement of experienced burnout. Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 2(2), 99-113. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.4030020205