Timeless Tips For Coping With Career Burnout
Are you feeling exhausted, bored, or uninspired at work? Is your workload overwhelming and demanding? Have you been struggling to concentrate on everyday job tasks? Do you dread Mondays or the start of your shift? If so, youre likely burned out. Burnout is the extreme stress and fatigue you experience when working too hard. Career burnout is a physically and emotionally draining state where you feel utterly depleted. Being burned out long-term can even make you sick. Addressing your burnout right away is essential to protect your health. Here are 10 timeless tips for coping with career burnout and recharging your batteries.
Burnout At Work: The 5 Most Common Warning Signs
Ruth Pearce spent months in a windowless room, working 60 to 80 hours a week with late night and early-morning meetings to finish a global financial project with too few resources. Over the course of three years, the North Carolina project manager seldom ventured outside, stopped exercising, ate on the run, and at night was left with such little energy that shed drink to relieve stress and watch TV. When a colleague hung a picture of a beautiful beach on the office wall and her husband begged her to quit, she knew she had officially hit burnout. I had no energy, she said. It was killing me.
Five years later, Pearce counsels other people facing chronic work stress as a professional coach at Project Motivator, and consistently tells people to listen to themselves before crashing and burning. I didnt see the early signs of burnout until the words project manager turned my stomach. It took six months before I could do any kind of work again, she said. I should have seen the signs and spoken up earlier.
So how do you recognize when chronic stress will make you hit a wall?
Effects On Mental Health
No matter your profession, you can expect to have troubling periods where you feel stressed, anxious or frustrated. While not pleasant, these feelings may mean you care about your work and are passionate about producing excellent results. For instance, a doctor may have to treat a difficult case that makes them feel emotions usually considered negative, but these emotions might mean the doctor sincerely wants to figure out a problem and ensure the patient’s wellbeing, not that they’re in the wrong career.
However, if your career has continuously caused you to feel negative emotions and mentally unhealthy, you may reconsider your career choice. A right career can improve your mental health by giving you a sense of purpose, providing you with positive social interactions, giving you the resources to take care of yourself and improving your self-esteem. If you believe your career can’t offer any of these benefits, then it might be time to look for a new profession.
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You Feel Disconnected From Your Job And Other Interests
Count how many times each week youre asking yourself after endless Zoom meetings, Why am I even doing this? If youre someone who is typically engaged or enthusiastic about work, and more and more youre not, and or if youre suddenly disengaged and it lasts for a week to 10 days, then pay close attention, says Pearce. That emotional distance from your job may be misdiagnosed as lack of productivity, but its a sign of stress. You may also feel isolated or lose interest in activities outside of work. Its that feeling like everyone else is firing on all cylinders and youre stuck in quicksand, Pearce said.
What Are Some Signs Of Job Burnout
No matter the cause, the signs of burnout may look similar. Let’s say you sit down to work and just stare into space. You procrastinate and make excuses, check your email, watch one more video on TikTok, and so it goes. This stems from feeling unmotivated, lacking the creativity and energy you once had about your job, and feeling extra tired than normal.
For other people, just doing a small task related to their job can feel painful. Job burnout symptoms can even manifest as physical ailments such as headaches, stomach issues, and more.
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There Is No Passion For A Career Field
If a worker is lucky enough to feel confident that they are in the right field doing the work they love, it might be more of a job placement issue. However, if an employee is completely uninterested in work they once had a passion for, it might be time to ask, âIs this career burnout or the wrong job?â For example, if marketing specialists love the creativity, bustle, and excitement of public relations but canât muster up any interest to attend a launch party, their current job might be draining that passion.
Quitting Is Not A ‘cure
Leaving your job may be the best solution in some situations, for example, if the workplace culture is toxic, said Dr. Katrina Gisbert-Tay, a medical doctor trained in psychology and wellbeing coach with The Coach Partnership.
However, quitting is the only or best option “less often than we think,” said Vanessa Bohns, a professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University.
“It may feel to us like the only way to escape the hold work has on us is by doing something dramatic, like leaving our current position altogether.”
Bohns added: “In many cases, there is more we can do to change our current circumstances than we realize.”
never underestimate a company that will listen, recognize and promote change to improve areas of employee dissatisfaction.Dr. Natalie Baumgartnerworkplace psychologist
“We might assume certain requests a more flexible work schedule, shorter weeks, a sabbatical, or just a long vacation are non-starters at our current job, and so the only way to really change our situation is to leave it for a completely new one.”
Bohns, who is also the author of “You Have More Influence Than You Think,” attributed high levels of burnout to technology, which she said has tethered people to work at all hours and “the idea that we have to prioritize work over all else.”
“The problem is that these norms are so widespread that employees may find themselves in a new job, right back in the same kind of situation they were trying to leave.”
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What Can You Do About Job Burnout
If youre feeling severe frustration, hopelessness, or misery, you should immediately schedule a visit with a trained counselor. Job burnout can be a genuine threat to your mental and even physical health, and theres no shame in getting some outside expertise on how to navigate whats happening. But if things arent too severe, there may be some other options that you can consider pursuing on your own.
But Its The Wrong Job If Every Meeting Bores You To Tears
Its a bad sign if you cant remember the last time you found a meeting interesting. Have you stopped speaking up, because youre routinely ignored? Are you not that invested in what youre teams working on? Why not look for a job where youre excited to contributeand people listen to what you have to say?
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Youve Become Far More Cynical And Hopeless
If you get to a place where you feel as if there is nothing you can do to make your job better, and that its never going to change, thats a big warning sign, said Moss. You may be consumed with what is wrong with your career, whether its your colleagues, your boss, the workload, or how work is being done, said Pearce. You may be more irritable and short-tempered with colleagues, friends, or family. I myself became obsessed about annoying things at work instead of focusing on what I could do differently, said Pearce. I felt stuck.
Take Time To Lead A Healthy Life
Make sure you always leave time for a healthy diet, regular exercising, and enough sleep. Also, make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.
Although these points may seem less important when youre pressed with a deadline, youre not doing your health any favor if youre working hungry, thirsty, and sleep-deprived.
Also, exercising may seem like a redundant and tiring addition to the mix, but theresscientific proof that regular exercising benefits your mental health which makes it worth the effort.
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Break Down The Job Search
The job search process can be long and arduous. Updating your resume, scouring job listings, writing cover letters, scheduling informational interviews, going on actual interviews, completing skills assessments, and then waiting patiently for updates is a lot even for people who arent burned out.
Looking for jobs is one of the hardest jobs there is
Dont be demoralized by the path to employment and instead break down the process into bite-size milestones: Give yourself 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals, says Minda Harts, workplace equity consultant and author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table. During the first 30 days of your search, consider your values and what youd like your next role to look like. Another 30-day goal is to work on yourresume, Harts says, whether youre devoting a few hours a week to sprucing it up or hiring a resume writer, if you can afford one. Sixty-day goals can include reaching out to folks who work in interesting positions or companies for short informational interviews. By 90 days, you should be applying for jobs. Im breaking it down, but I dont feel overwhelmed, Harts says. Im still able to heal during this process and get healthier because you want to be healthy while youre job-seeking.
You Have Health Problems
Always taking time off work and sending in a sick day email?
Stressing too much can have a negative effect on your health. If youre suffering from burnout, you may notice that youre getting sick more often or have ongoing chest pains or headaches.
In fact, researchers claim that burnout can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease as much as smoking or an unhealthy BMI does.
Other health problems associated with burnout include:
- Increased bouts of colds/flu
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Do You Feel Like Youre Creating Value
As a career coach for the last 20 years, I’ve been helping people unlock the answer to this question, and the way that I’ve done this is by helping them understand their workplace personas .
There are eight workplace personas. There are eight different ways that people create value in the workplace, and while we can do all of them, we don’t enjoy doing all of them.
Once we know our top two or three workplace personas, thats when we can start to find jobs and create careers that make us happy. Its how we can avoid burnout or, even worse, choosing the wrong job for us.
How To Treat Career Burnout
Most of the time, when people think about treating workplace burnout, the default response is take a vacation . While it can be effective occasionally, youre likely treating a symptom, not the cause. Without addressing the underlying cause, taking a break from work is going to work in the short term, but youre going to run right back into the same issues within a few days after you return to your workplace. How do you treat workplace burnout?
Collaborate with other co-workers its usually easy to find who is experiencing workplace burnout . Find out whats causing their issues. Is there a solution? Does your employer need to take on more employees, allocate more resources, deal with a particular manager?
Talk to your supervisor if you feel like you can approach your supervisor, let him or her know what youre dealing with and that you would like help tackling this issue. You may be able to work out some of the problems youre having.
Find meaning in your work is there one particular bright spot in your day? Do you enjoy working on a particular task? See if its possible to fit more of that particular thing into your day. Can job duties be reallocated from other people to you, and vice versa?
Care for yourself better are you eating well? Exercising? Drinking enough water? Practicing mindfulness or meditation? Sleeping enough? Sometimes, ignoring our physical problems can create or enhance mental distress.
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How Do People Affected With Burnout Deal With It
Peoples opinions on how they should address burnout differs, but weve prepared a visual representation of the most common strategies that people use to avoid burnout when action is required:
It was found that 63% of US adults believe that less work pressure is the best strategy to help avoid burnout when experiencing symptoms that have already been stated above. Having a hobby is a close second, with a share of 58%.
This is in line with the statistics that 52% of adults in the U.S. would turn to their family and friends in case of burnout:
In total, about 55% would also turn to a professional to treat and advise them, which is the right way to approach the matter.
The alarming statistic, however, is the share of people whod try to get through their burnout alone , and the share that would immediately turn to medication .
What Employers Can Do About Burnout
The Gallup-Workhuman report revealed that, when an employer recognizes life events and work milestones, employees are three times as likely to strongly agree that their organization cares about their well-being. As leaders and employees become more physically disconnected as a result of remote and hybrid work, incorporating moments of recognition become even more critical to bridge the connection gap and create an employee experience that is rooted in gratitude, recognition and appreciation, according to Dr. Martin.
Companies must do more to address the burnout epidemic using a strategic, holistic approach with the right policies, processes and technologies in place to support them. By engaging employees in conversations about their burnout and using workplace tools to gauge stress levels, managers can help their direct reports develop action plans for alleviating work-related fatigue. These strategies ensure employees dont feel solely responsible for addressing a problem that is, in many instances, triggered by their worknot their own shortcomings. When organizations dont address burnout, top talent will leave for companies with better benefits and support, driving up turnover and recruitment costs.
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On TikTok, Jenna, @jennakgreco, frequently posts videos with career advice on how to leave a job that youre unhappy with and apply for a new one.
In a clip posted last month, Jenna addressed what could happen when you want to leave a position that youre drained by but dont know what want to do next.
She went on to explain that when people are over the work that theyre doing, they start to lose their motivation, which affects their performance.
When you start to lose your motivation, youre not trying as hard, she said, before acknowledging how many of her clients are huge achievers who have always been really good at what they do.
Beating Burnout: Identifying Bad Jobs And Improving Job Quality
To improve wellbeing at work, job quality policy should pay more attention to imbalances in job content and the social environment at work.
- Publishing date
The authors are grateful to Bruegel colleagues and members of the Future of Work Excellence Network for valuable feedback, especially Milena Nikolova, Francis Green and Diane Mulcahy, as well as Seth Maenen.
This policy contribution was produced within the project Future of Work and Inclusive Growth in Europe, with the financial support of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
While European-wide information on burnout is scarce, national statistics show that stress-related absenteeism is on the rise, generating significant costs for firms and welfare states, while reducing worker wellbeing. Although manifested at the individual level, burnout is an occupational phenomenon, predicted most clearly by imbalances in job content and the social environment at work two under-explored aspects of job quality.
While the economy and society as a whole would benefit from a healthier workforce, market failures drive job quality below an optimal level, necessitating attention from policymakers. Measuring and intervening in job content is not straightforward, however, and has not been a main policy domain in Europe. Policy frameworks and interventions therefore tend to focus on other areas of job quality, such as the physical and contractual working conditions.
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Signs Of Burnout At Work And What To Do About It
Its normal to have bad days at work. Having nothing but bad days at work however, is not. If youre going through this, its possible that youre experiencing job burnout an overwhelming feeling of physical and mental exhaustion at work. The World Health Organization defines it as a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
When work makes you feel nothing but misery, you might feel tempted to take the extreme route and just quit your job. But that isnt always possible for some, and you may even come to regret it if you do it on impulse without consideration. Moreover, there are also ways that you can handle some of the stressors causing the burnout, so you could also consider that first before turning to your last resort of quitting.