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17 Tips to Deal With Workplace Burnout & Job Stress

By Casey Slide

dealing with workplace burnoutDo you find yourself going through the motions every day at work? Are you physically showing up for the job, but leaving your mind elsewhere? Are you feeling detached from what formerly gave you joy and fulfillment? If so, you are likely suffering from workplace burnout.

Burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion that is brought on by a long period of stress. It can leave you feeling empty and incapable, and such feelings can impact aspects of your life beyond the workplace. It’s a common problem that many suffer from, regardless of profession.

Understanding Workplace Burnout

Causes

There is no one thing that causes burnout; however, the main culprits are being overwhelmed and feeling unappreciated. Conversely, you may even feel underwhelmed and bored. Fear and insecurity can also be factors in burnout, especially if you are nervous about losing your job if you are unable to keep up with the demands and expectations.

Signs

  • Fatigue, both physically and emotionally
  • Depression
  • Reduction in efficiency
  • Frustration
  • Decline in health
  • Loss of motivation
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Resentfulness
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Working because you have to, not because you want to

If you find that you have some of these symptoms, take action now before it gets any worse. Here are some tips and strategies for dealing with workplace burnout.

Make Adjustments to Your Lifestyle

1. Take Care of Your Physical Well-being
You may start to feel some relief if you begin to treat your body right. That means getting a good night’s rest, exercising for at least 30 minutes several times per week, and eating a balanced diet.

To get proper sleep, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and do your best to get a full eight hours. If you have a hard time fitting exercise into your routine, simply go for a 30-minute walk during your lunch break. Even if you feel that you are too busy to take a break, do it anyway. You’ll find yourself more productive when you get back to work.

2. Have a Social Life
Having relationships makes us feel more content, and if you have strong relationships with family and friends, you’ll find that joy bubbling over into your work life. I have found that during the times in my life when my friendships were strongest, even the most mundane work tasks didn’t faze me.

3. Enjoy Your Hobbies
Depending on your current situation, you may not be able to have much of a social life, especially if you are living in a new place where you do not know anyone. In that case, get yourself out of the house and start a hobby or two. Play a recreational sport, take an art class, or join a book club. Not only will these be things that you can enjoy and look forward to, you may make some new friends.

4. Take Regular Vacations
Many people save up their vacation time and take one- or two-week-long vacations per year. Unfortunately, many of those vacations are not used to relax, but simply to get projects done around the house.

Instead of taking a week off every six months, take days off regularly, and just relax. Go shopping, lay out by the pool, read a book, or go hiking. By taking days off regularly, you’ll always have something fun to look forward to.

5. Take 15 Minutes to Relax Daily
Take 15 minutes (or more) each day to simply disconnect from the world. This time needs to be your time, not your kids’ time or your spouse’s time. Use this time to rejuvenate yourself: read, write in a journal, or meditate. Do anything you can to not worry about the tasks that are currently causing you stress.

If you can do this first thing in the morning, it’ll put your mind in a more relaxed state for the day. If not, it is also beneficial during lunch, after work, or right before bed.

you may need to change positions

Make Adjustments to Your Job

6. Open Lines of Communication With Your Manager
You do not need to tell your boss directly that you are struggling with burnout. Instead, simply start a dialogue about your position. If your tasks have become mundane, express that you’d like to be challenged more. If you’re feeling overworked, express that you’d prefer to focus on fewer tasks so you can give them your full attention and do a better job.

Whatever you do, be positive. You don’t want to approach your boss with complaints – make it clear how your suggestions can help increase the bottom line. While some managers will have already picked up on your burnout, others will be oblivious. It’s up to you to make them aware that things need to change.

7. Clarify Job Expectations and Responsibilities
You cannot do your job well if you are unsure of what you are to be doing. If you are missing your target, it may be why you are not receiving the recognition you believe you deserve for your hard work. This is especially important if you have multiple bosses or are reporting to more than one department.

8. Learn to Say “No”
Like many professionals, you may have a tendency to say yes to everything that is requested. If you don’t do it, you fear it will reflect poorly on you, resulting in negative performance reviews and loss of recognition and promotions.

While there is an ounce of truth to those fears, your health and well-being are more important. Plus, a good manager will respect those who recognize their limits and don’t try to take on more than they can handle. This is another reason to open the lines of communication with your manager.

9. Ask for New Duties
I have experienced burnout in the past due to boredom. Many tasks and projects I performed were redundant, and I was not learning new things or growing professionally.

If you find yourself in that position, ask for new duties. If you are able to take on new tasks, you may even relieve someone else who is overburdened with work.

Make Adjustments to Your Attitude

10. Let Some Things Slide
Sometimes in life we need to let go and let things slide. If you would normally go above and beyond the call of duty, but you are unable to keep working at that level, it’s okay to be less than perfect. It’s also okay to delegate tasks and lose some control if you are in a position to delegate.

11. Get Support
If you struggle with severe confusion or feelings of inadequacy, seek help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member – not your coworkers – about what you are feeling. If your company offers an employee assistance program (EAP), get an appointment with a counselor. Workplace burnout is a common problem that they deal with, and they can guide you through the process of recovery.

12. Take a Stress Management Course
Take a stress management course or a time management course. While this does not offer the individualized help that a counselor could provide, you can learn some tricks to better manage your burnout. I have taken several time management courses through my various employers, and I have been surprised at how much I learned.

13. Change What You Can, Accept What You Can’t
You may spend time and energy trying to change those things that cannot be changed. Instead, learn to accept them, and do away with the harmful, stressful worrying. Perhaps you will come to peace with your job, or perhaps you will gain the courage to leave.

take a break

Other Tips & Strategies to Deal With Workplace Burnout

14. Search for the Source of Your Discontent
Sometimes we have no idea what is upsetting us, and we let that discontent rule our lives. Instead, you should question it: Where does it come from? Is the problem boredom? Is it fear or insecurity? If you can gain an understanding of your burnout, you’ll find it easier to control.

15. Don’t Do Anything Rash
Don’t hastily quit your job or take out your frustration on your boss. Keep your cool, and carefully consider every decision before you act. No decision should ever be rushed.

16. Know What Motivates You
Everyone is motivated by something different. Some people thrive on positive feedback, while others know they need to work harder if they are given anything other than a flawless review. For others, motivation comes with raises and promotions or special treatment, such as casual Fridays. Figure out what gets you going, and share that with your manager if he or she is attempting to motivate you in a counterproductive manner.

17. Find a New Job
The most effective way to get over workplace burnout is to get a new job. However, be careful to make the right move for yourself. Figure out whether you need to merely change jobs, or if you really need to switch careers. Also, evaluate whether you need a new job within your current company, or if you should search for work at a new company. Otherwise, you may end up just as miserable as you are now.

Final Word

Developing workplace burnout is a process. You won’t wake up one day and have full-on workplace burnout. It’s something that builds over time, and if you are cognizant of potential warning signs, you’ll be able to catch burnout early on and have an easier time relieving the symptoms. Better yet, you may be able to prevent burnout altogether by taking care of yourself, understanding your work style and motivating factors, and by having regular communication with your manager.

What other tips did you have to manage workplace burnout?

(photo credit: Bigstock)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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  • Docpotter

    Burnout creates stress but it is NOT caused by stress. Merely reducing stress does little for dealing with burnout and its causes. Burnout is a motivational problem and it is caused by feelings of helplessness – being trapped. Many of the tips in the article does increase feelings of potency and would be helpful – but not because they reduce stress. Stress is the “ever” of burnout – and it must be reduced for health reasons – but does not in any way deal with the causes of burnout. -docpotter author of several books on job burnout gong back to 1978.

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