Are You Burning or Rusting Out?


Imagine you didn’t hear your alarm this morning and are running late for an important work presentation. You quickly throw on some clothes and grab your coffee as you run out the door. In a situation like this, your body immediately produces a hormone called cortisol that kickstarts your fight or flight response helping you cope with stress. You arrive at work just in time to begin your presentation having successfully responded to a short-term stressor, but what happens when you face long-term or chronic stress? 

Chronic and excessive stress in the workplace can look different for everyone, but typically results in a state of emotional and physical exhaustion called burnout. Burnout is an accumulation of stress over time and can lead to problems if left untreated. You can avoid or reduce the likelihood of experiencing burnout by recognizing these signs and symptoms:

With the significant increase of burnout since the COVID-19 pandemic, Northrop Grumman remains focused on providing employees with mental health resources, activities and programs and work/life balance opportunities to help reduce stress and enhance overall emotional well-being.

Rust Out

Now for the million-dollar question – What is rust out?

Imagine you come to work every day performing mundane, repetitive tasks and find yourself continuously checking the clock, counting down the minutes until you can leave. You’re experiencing rust out, a phenomenon that falls somewhere between boredom and burnout. This emotion may cause you to feel underutilized or undervalued in the workplace with a lack of importance or sense of purpose.

Rust out often occurs when an individual is overqualified for a position. They slowly move away from high performance and shift to doing the bare minimum where their quality of work has notably declined. This change in performance can impact mental health and lead to symptoms such as:

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, don’t worry, there are many ways that you can combat rust out.

To start, you can seek out new and exciting experiences at work. Northrop Grumman provides a variety of resources and opportunities to help you envision and build the career you’ve always imagined. Get started by exploring learning opportunities with education assistance, career development resources or use the Workday Opportunity Graph to find potential positions that provide more inspiring work.

Additionally, practicing self-care can help alleviate symptoms. Consider trying a new exercise routine, taking up a new hobby, reading a book or practicing mindfulness with our mindfulness resources. You can also speak confidentially with a mental health professional at no cost to help you identify and address your symptoms.

In all aspects of life, with the right level of challenge and stimulation, you can reenergize and start fresh. Don’t suffer from rust out – See how you can define possible now.

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Article by: Mackenzie Reulein

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