Employee Wellness Blog

Feeling the Effects of Workplace Burnout? Here’s How to Deal

Posted by Robyn Whalen on Mon, Feb 05, 2018

When you first started your job, you probably felt excited, enthusiastic, and optimistic about your future at your company. But after a few years, that excitement might have started to dwindle, and you might feel a bit less happy in your role that you once used to love. This is a normal feeling for many full-time employees – especially for those that work in high-stress roles or at high-stress companies.

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If you dread going to work and feel like the work you do has become meaningless, you might be suffering from the effects of workplace burnout. Mayo Clinic defines workplace burnout as a special type of stress; it’s a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about the competence and the value of one’s work. Burnout usually occurs when a person experiences long-term stress at their job or feels their role is emotionally and/or physically exhausting. 

Some typical signs of workplace burnout include:

  • Feeling negative or cynical at work
  • Having trouble feeling focused or productive
  • Feeling irritated with colleagues or clients
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor sleep
  • Changes in diet or appetite
  • Taking more sick days than usual
  • Feeling unsatisfied with your achievements
  • Unusual chronic aches or pains – like headaches or backaches 

If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, you might be dealing with workplace burnout. There are a lot of environmental factors that can contribute to workplace burnout, such as unclear job expectations, lack of work-life balance, lack of social connections, or a dysfunctional environment. Unfortunately, a lot of these factors aren’t usually things that employees have the power to control or change.

Ignoring burnout is terrible for both your mental and physical health. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, ignored or unaddressed job burnout can lead to significant health consequences including: 

  • Excessive stress
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • A negative spillover into your personal relationships or home life
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes, especially in women
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Weak immune system 

Burnout won’t go away on its own. Which is why it’s so important to learn some strategies for dealing with and recovering from workplace burnout. Below are 11 tips to help you cope and recover: 

Find the root of the cause. It’s helpful to pinpoint the reason behind your burnout. Are you working too many hours? Do you have unresolved issues with your colleagues? Are you bored with the work you’re doing? There are many causes of burnout, but determining the underlying issue behind your burnout is the first step in treating and solving the problem. Ask yourself what makes you feel stressed, unhappy, or apathetic at your job.

Keep a journal. Writing is an excellent outlet for burnout. Besides being a great form of stress relief, writing can help you track your feelings at work and look for patterns in your emotions and behavior. This can help you blow off some steam as well as help you determine what’s causing you to feel burnt out in the first place. 

Engage in stress relief activities. Long-term stress is one of the most common causes of workplace burnout. It’s crucial to manage stress before it becomes chronic. Start practicing meditation, take up yoga, find a new hobby, or treat yourself to a professional massage. Be sure to practice stress relief activities on a daily basis. 

Reevaluate your goals. It might be helpful to reflect on your career and professional goals. What do you hope to accomplish in your career? Where do you see yourself in five years? Is your current job helping you fulfill your goals? You might have taken your current role years ago when you had different goals or ideas about what you wanted to do in life. Take some time to reevaluate your goals and try to look for areas in your current position or company that can help you achieve these goals.

Ask for flexible hours. If you’re feeling burnt out because of strict office hours or a hectic schedule, working flexible hours might help reduce a lot of that stress. Many companies already offer flex schedules because of how beneficial they are to both employees and employers. If your company currently doesn’t offer any type of flexibility or the ability to work from home, try talking to your manager. Feel free to show them this article about the perks of a flexible work environment! 

Go on a vacation. Sometimes, you just need to get away from the office. You should always utilize your PTO and take some time off when necessary. If you’ve been dealing with crazy hours or need some time away with your family or friends, plan a vacation ASAP! A vacation doesn’t have to mean a whole week off of work – even a weekend getaway will do you wonders. Try looking into a wellness retreat if you really want to prioritize your mental health over your vacation. 

Take a mental health day. Don’t ever feel afraid or embarrassed to take a mental health day when needed. Mental health should be treated the same as psychical health. If you’ve been feeling mentally drained or unwell, take a day or two to focus on your mental health and come back to work feeling refreshed. 

Practice positive thinking. While it might sound cheesy, positive thinking can help put you in a better mood and mindset at work. Being more optimistic has been shown to help reduce stress levels and keep you healthier. Check out this blog post for some tips on turning a negative mindset into a positive mindset. 

Care for your body. Let’s bring it back to the basics. Are you properly caring for your body and prioritizing your health? Poor nutritional choices, bad sleeping habits, and a lack of physical activity can all contribute to feelings of burnout. By adopting some healthier lifestyle habits, you might be able to combat some effects of workplace burnout.

See a healthcare professional. If you’re suffering from some major burnout at work and don’t feel physically or mentally healthy, be sure to set up an appointment with a healthcare professional. Talking to your doctor or meeting with a therapist will help get you back on track. 

Move on. In worst-case scenarios, you need to do what’s best for your health and move on from a job or company that makes you miserable. If you’ve tried the above tips and have talked with your manager or an HR professional at your company and still can’t seem to find some happiness in your role, it might be time for you to move on. Since being a full-time employee means spending most of your week in your office, it’s incredibly important to have a job where you feel supported, encouraged, and happy. 

Of course, the best way to deal with workplace burnout is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you feel stressed on a regular basis at your job, be sure to practice some stress relieving strategies at work and speak with your boss before it’s too late. Ignored workplace burnout can cause some serious health consequences and make your everyday life less enjoyable. If you’re dealing with burnout, be sure to try out some of the above tips to feel a bit happier and healthier at work. 

How do you recover from workplace burnout? Share some tips in the comment section below!

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Topics: Healthy Lifestyle, Career Tips, Stress Less

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