01 Jun 4 signs you’re at risk from digital burnout
What is digital burnout?
Burnout is a psychological term that can refer to long-term exhaustion, as well as diminished interest in your work. Typically, burnout is the result of chronic occupational stress. These stresses overload the mind and therefore have other effects on the body.
Digital burnout is classed as a specific type of burnout that is triggered by digital devices. Modern life allows us to be constantly connected at all times, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Many of us have work emails on our phones, but checking them just makes us stressed and less focused.
Signs you may be at risk from digital burnout
While the signs of burnout are not different for digital burnout, they can often be exacerbated further by digital technology.
#1 Decreased physical energy
While not a telling symptom by itself, decreased energy and feelings of tiredness can be, in combination with others, one of the key symptoms of burnout.
Decreased energy can be the result of sleeping less, or having a lower quality of sleep. This can be further exacerbated by digital devices. 95% of adults admit to using devices in the hour before bed – but the blue light that is emitted by devices is known to suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, resulting in a lower quality sleep.
#2 Cognitive problems
Burnout and chronic stress are typically most associated with an inability to pay attention, focus or concentrate. This is because our bodies naturally handle stress by narrowing our focus, in order for us to properly assess and deal with the cause of the stress. However, our bodies aren’t designed to deal with this narrowing of focus for long periods of time.
Technology doesn’t help us either. The simple act of just receiving a notification is enough to severely distract you, even if you ignore it, and notifications from our phones cause ADHD-like symptoms.
#3 Loss of motivation
Another key symptom of burnout can be the loss of motivation you may feel for the job. This can manifest as a lack of motivation to fulfil basic tasks at work, or even as the inability to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. Typically the loss of motivation
This lack of motivation can be attributed to a form of depression – something that can be exacerbated by a lot of technology, including social media. Depression has been linked to both heavy internet usage and social media usage.
#4 Working outside of work
While a loss of motivation can be a key symptom, another key symptom is quite the opposite – working too much. This can be attributed to high levels of ambition, or a need to prove yourself, so happens quite early on in a lot of careers. While you might not be working all the time, if you’re expending mental energy thinking about work – what you need to do, or those emails you didn’t reply to – then your job is interfering with your ability to recover from work.
To recover properly, you need to stop thinking about work and your tasks and actually recover. Having work emails on your phone can add to the feeling of an overbearing workload, and a common vice of those suffering from burnout is answering work emails from home. But not only do work emails distract you from working – but they also make you a lot more stressed.