Are you feeling burned out at work? You should take that feeling seriously. Research shows that not only does burnout affect your mood and productivity–it actually affects your brain function. Participants in burnout studies showed enlarged amygdalae, and thinning of the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex thins naturally with aging, but subjects with work-related burnout showed accelerated thinning–in effect, burnout was making their brains old before their time.
Not surprisingly, research shows a correlation between burnout and reduced cognitive function. Even more frightening, it also shows a correlation between burnout and coronary heart disease. Yup, burnout can literally kill you.
All this should be enough to convince you that you should take burnout seriously, and if you’re feeling burned out at your job, now is the time to do something about it. But the solution may not be to shorten your workday. In fact, if you enjoy your job and feel that your efforts are valued, you may be able to work very long hours without encountering burnout.