United States of Burnout
If one word could sum up 2020, burnout would be it. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the stress that has come along with it, Americans are tired, exhausted and they’re ready for some serious stress relief.
Burnout can be defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” While these signs and symptoms aren’t new to anyone, the term itself has become popularized within the last year after the World Health Organization categorized burnout as a “syndrome,” which can be linked to chronic workplace stress.
In order to get a better understanding of how Americans are affected by burnout, we determined the most common terms related to burnout in every state based on Google search volume. We also surveyed 2,000 Americans to ask them about their experiences with burnout, symptoms, and how they cope with stress and exhaustion.
Burnout in America
It’s interesting to see that burnout terms related to the workplace dominate the map. A total of 20 states searched the most for occupational burnout terms or phrases. Terms related to burnout within the healthcare industry were particularly common, including “healthcare worker burnout,” “nurses and burnout,” “nursing burnout,” and “nurse burnout prevention.” It might not come as a surprise that many in the healthcare industry are experiencing burnout considering the current pandemic.
Along with workplace burnout, many Americans are searching for both signs of burnout as well as remedies. California, Oregon, Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana were among the top states seeking remedies for burnout. Popular terms for those states include “Dr. Sheryl Ziegler,” author of Mommy Burnout, and “Cristina Maslach,” a social psychologist and co-author of the Maslach Burnout Inventory.
Overall, 92% of those surveyed say burnout affects their everyday life, and many experience signs and symptoms of both mental and physical exhaustion. According to respondents, a majority experience these symptoms at least once per week or more.
Signs of Burnout
Why are so many Americans experiencing burnout? Well, one reason might be that 73% say life has become overly complicated and 80% say life is more stressful than it was for previous generations. Surprisingly, 89% of Gen Z respondents (age 18-23) feel that their lives are more stressful than other age groups while millennials were least likely to say that their lives are more stressful than other age groups
One thing all respondents agreed on is that the COVID-19 pandemic was the top reason for burnout in their lives. The pandemic was followed by work, finances, politics and the news. Our habits may be contributing to burnout as well especially during a 24/7 news cycle. Overall, 73% admitted to “doomscrolling,” or scrolling through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. As Americans were glued to the TV and the news during the 2020 presidential election, 67% say they experienced burnout from watching, reading or listening to the coverage.
With the workplace currently going through dramatic changes such as remote work and social distancing, many respondents say they’ve been stressed out in the workplace. In fact, 80% say burnout has prevented them from focusing at work and more than half (56%) say burnout has prevented them from going to work.
Among those who work remotely, 67% say they feel burned out due to working from home and 57% say they’re putting in longer hours since working from home. Regardless of where they work, one-third feel their job is toxic and one-third have felt less productive at work since the pandemic.
Workplace stress and exhaustion have also caused emotional breakdowns for many. According to respondents, 61% admitted to crying before, during or after work.
Coping with Burnout
When it comes to coping with burnout, Americans turn to a variety of different options including CBD and cannabis. Overall, 37% say they have used CBD to cope with burnout and 39% consume cannabis for the same reason. Millennials were the most likely to say they consume cannabis to cope with burnout. Of those who consume cannabis, 93% say it helps relieve symptoms of burnout. Among those who do not consume cannabis, 29% say they have considered consuming cannabis to ease burnout.
Respondents also cited other ways to cope with burnout such as watching Netflix or Hulu, exercising, sleeping, listening to music, or talking to friends and family.
Life is all about balance and it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout early on before they build up. Simple steps like taking time to relax and re-energize can go a long way when it comes to preventing burnout and combating stress in your life.
From Oct. 5 to Oct. 8, 2020, we surveyed 2,024 Americans on their experiences with burnout. The median age of respondents was 38. 47% were male and 53% were female. Income: Under $20K: 9%; $20-40K: 23%; $40-60K: 26%; $60-80K: 19%; $80-100K: 9%; Over $100K: 10%.
Using the GoogleAds platform, we analyzed search volume trends for “burnout” and more than 1,800 related terms and keywords for March 2020 to October 2020 in all 50 states.
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