How to Deal with Burnout
Burnout arises from chronic stress at work, but it doesn’t stop there. The effects of burnout can trickle over into your personal life, leaving you feeling unmotivated and dispassionate about pretty much everything else, too. How can you deal with burnout once it’s happened? Learn to gain better control of work stress and implement positive practices into your work environment. Then, make more time for fun and meaningful activities after hours to counteract burnout at work.
Managing Work Stress
Schedule breaks during the workday.Do you clock in and work nonstop until it’s time to clock out? If so, start carving in a few breaks into your typical workday. Set a goal to start taking a 10 or 15 minute break for every 2 hours of work time.
- During your break, do something that helps you detach from the work, such as meditating, doing sets of push-ups or planks, or playing a word or puzzle game that helps you use other skills.
Perform relaxation techniques to ease stress.When you notice signs of mounting stress or anxiety at work, take immediate action to relieve tension by doing a relaxation exercise. Many relaxation techniques can be performed while you’re sitting at your desk or work station. Commit to 10 to 15 minutes of relaxation time. If you have an office, shut the door.
Get more sleep.Odds are, if you’re experiencing burnout at work, you probably aren’t getting the recommended amount of shut-eye. Lack of sleep can worsen feelings of overwhelm and make it harder for you to deal with stress. A good night’s rest can help you feel more capable of handling work stress.
- Improve your sleep hygiene by creating a new bedtime routine. Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed and lower the temperature in your living space. Do soothing activities, like taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, or making a gratitude list.
Take time off.If you’re experiencing burnout, it may have been a long while since you’ve taken time off work. Tell your boss you need a mental health day and use some of your sick leave. Plan that vacation with your family that you keep putting off. Or, if you need something longer, sign up for a leave of absence while you care for your health.
- Time off also means not always bringing work home with you. Draw clear lines between your work and home life in order to truly recharge. Don’t answer work calls or emails after hours or when you’re on vacation.
Developing Healthier Work Practices
Reframe your perspective of work.A dispassionate view of work may have developed because you have lost touch with the value of what you do. Go back to the drawing board and get back in touch with what brought you to this career path and how that connects with your long-term goals.
- For example, if you’re grinding every day for a nonprofit organization, arrange a visit to see the people or areas that your work positively impacts.
Change your language about work.If you arise each day with a “have to” mindset, challenge yourself to modify the way you think or speak about work. Instead, develop a “get to” point-of-view. When you catch yourself using “have to” language, revise it right away.
- Rather than saying “Today I have to finish these reports,” say “I get to finish my reports today.” The semantics may be simple, but it makes a difference in how the statement affects your outlook.
- At the top of your daily to-do list, you might write, “Today, I get to…”
Learn when to say “no.” A superhero mentality may be one of the reasons you’re feeling burned out. Taking on extra responsibilities might help others see how awesome you are, but it may also cause them to take you for granted and continually toss new tasks your way.
- Take back your precious time by saying “no” to unnecessary or extraneous obligations. If someone asks that you take on extra work, say, “No, my plate is already brimming. Is there someone else you can pass this to?”
- Don’t apologize. Confidently assert yourself and respect your time. By doing so, others will gradually follow suit.
Delegate.If you’re a Type A perfectionist, a major hang-up regarding work stress might be your tendency to want to do it all. You think no one else can do the job as efficiently or successfully as you, so you continue to pile it on.
- Realize that your perfectionistic tendencies contribute to burnout. Start sharing the burden by handing off tasks that can be done by others. Doing so gives them the chance to develop new skillsets and it gives you a little less to do.
Embrace imperfection in your workplace.Do you procrastinate and hold onto projects until the very last minute because you’re worried about what others think? Do you work more hours than everyone else because you’re focused on being the best? These perfectionistic qualities can affect your job satisfaction and productivity and cause burnout.
- Complete a personal challenge to start doing just enough to get by for a change. It seems horrible, but doing so may help you relax the reins and notice that your work can be good enough—without zapping you of everything.
Challenge yourself.You’re probably thinking, “I’m challenged enough as it is!” However, if you’re struggling with burnout, you may not be challenging yourself in the right ways. When work gets boring or monotonous, kick things up a notch by learning new skills or changing positions.
- If you’re feeling especially lackluster about your current work, you may need to look deeper without yourself to see if there’s some other line of work you’d rather be doing.
- Sign up for on-the-job training to freshen up your skills, research new occupations in which you can transfer your existing skills, or interview someone who’s doing your “dream” job.
Making Leisure Time Meaningful
Say “yes” to fun more often.Do you turn down invitations to parties or bow out when friends and family members do leisure activities? If so, make it your business to start saying “yes” to more of these invites.
- If your kids ask you to take them to the park, say “yes” and set work aside for a few hours. If your buddies beg you to come to poker night, say “yes” for once and have a good time. You deserve to make fun a regular part of your life.
Carve out time for hobbies.Working too much can often mean you’re neglecting other passions. However, making more time for these activities can actually help you find better work/life balance. Think about a hobby you’d like to do more often and make time for it today.
- Hobbies can be anything you enjoy, such as playing basketball, baking with your kids, or running a marathon.
Invest in social relationships.Being a high-achiever doesn’t mean you have to push away others. Social support can be a great outlet to help you combat work stress. Plus, having time away with people you care about can actually provide inspiration when you do work. Try the following strategies to socialize more often:
- Plan a regular date night with your spouse.
- Schedule a weekly game or movie night with your friends or family.
- Join a new club or organization (work-related or hobby-related).
- Make more friends at work to make the work day bearable.
Dedicate time to a cause you care about.Community service can be a great way to spend your leisure time. Volunteerism can also help balance things out when you don’t feel like you’re doing meaningful work. Find a cause you believe in. Then, offer up your skills to help out.
- You might tutor students after school, read to children at the library, volunteer to help the elderly, or help plan a community event.
Avoiding Recurrences of Burnout
Know the warning signs.You can prevent burnout from recurring by knowing how to look out for it. There are usually some indicators that you are about to experience burnout. When you spot these signs, take a look at your life and make some positive additions (or subtractions). Signs of burnout include:
- Having cynical or critical mindset or language about work
- Having to force yourself to go to work
- Getting easily irritated by coworkers or clients/customers
- Lacking the necessary energy and motivation to do your job
- Experiencing changes in your sleep or eating habits
- Having unexplained aches or pains
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty
Be mindful of your coping strategies.One of the tell-tale signs of impending burnout is the type of activities you use to cope with stress. Healthy ways of coping with stress may include physical activity, time with friends and family, or self-care activities like reading or painting. Unhealthy coping strategies often indicate that you are struggling.
- Burnout may involve unhealthy coping strategies, such as eating too much, shopping too much, gambling, or using drugs or alcohol to numb your feelings.
- If you spot repetitive unhealthy coping strategies, take strides to increase your self-care practice.
Listen for negative self-talk.Burnout may also become obvious from your thought process, which may sound overly negative or pessimistic. If your internal dialogue seems extremely bleak on the subject of work, it can actually pour over into other areas of your life.
- For instance, you might say things to yourself like, "I can never get enough done" or "No matter what I do, my boss is never happy."
- If you notice this, try to reframe these negative thoughts. For example, if you think "I can never get enough done," try to find instances when that wasn't true. Maybe you finished your work early enough one day to have time to help a coworker—which makes the previous statement false.
Video: How to Recover from Being Burned Out [Restore Motivation!] | Brian Tracy
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