Dealing with Burnout

It starts with the task that you leave to handle the next day. Then, one task turns into two and two into three. Pretty soon, you’re falling behind on deadlines because there isn’t enough time in a workday to do everything you need to get done. At the end of the day you go home drained and then come back to work the next day feeling the same way. This is job burnout and it affects more people than you think. 

Job burnout is a state of exhaustion that can affect your mental health as well as your physical health. It isn’t always the result of a bad work environment or needing a career change. Sometimes, burnout presents itself simply because you need to slow down and take care of yourself.

Here are three tips to help you tackle job burnout so you can get back to feeling a sense of accomplishment during your workday.

1. Acknowledge it

Acknowledging burnout

The first step in dealing with burnout is to acknowledge that you are burnt out! This begins with recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout. These symptoms present themselves physically, emotionally, and behaviorally! 

Physical symptoms of burnout can include feeling tired or drained, a change in appetite, and/or a change in sleep habits. Emotionally, burnout can present itself as a feeling of detachment, a sense of failure, and/or a loss of motivation. Burnout also affects your behavior and can cause you to procrastinate tasks, lash out towards others, and/or withdraw from responsibilities. 

2. Know your limits

MacBook Pro, white ceramic mug,and black smartphone on table

The quickest route to burnout is taking on more than you can handle. The solution here is to learn how to set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say “no,” to taking on job assignments your schedule doesn’t allow for. If you know a new assignment would compromise your health and wellbeing as well as your dedication to prior commitments, then communicate that in your declination. There are multiple ways to say “no,” without coming off rude, lazy, or unprofessional. Knowing when to do so will ultimately earn you more respect from your co-workers as well as your boss.

3. Take time for yourself 

taking time for yourself to combat burnout

Burnout is something that takes time to heal from. The quickest way to do so is to remove yourself from the environment you are most affected by it in. Maybe this would be a good chance to use those extra vacation days. If you don’t have any extra vacation days lying around then you can find “mini-vacation” moments throughout your workday. 

One way to create a “mini-vacation” moment is by taking small breaks throughout your workday. For example, let’s say that you are working on a project and suddenly come to a roadblock. As hard as you try, you just can’t seem to come up with a solution to get around it and you’re starting to become frustrated with it. This is a good opportunity for a “mini-vacation.” Pause your work for just a moment and go take a short walk, stretch, drink some water, or have a snack. You could even do a breathing exercise! 

Another way to make your own “mini-vacation” is by not bringing work home at the end of the day. Draw a definite boundary between your work life and your personal life. A practical way to do this for yourself is to turn off notifications to all work-related apps while you aren’t working. There’s no need to think about work when you’re not working, so don’t be afraid to use this time to take care of yourself. 

To further the discussion on burnout at work, checkout our podcast episode on the topic from May 2021!

Elizabeth Leeth