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25 Tips for Dealing with Burnout

Each one is more productive than crying in the shower, but admittedly, not as cathartic

Rachel Cooper
Contributor

women on treadmills

Did you used to love your job, and now . . . not so much? Feeling cynical about work? Finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning? Have low motivation or focus? You might be suffering from burnout, but you’re not alone. A 2016 survey conducted by Morar Consulting reported that 40 percent of office employees in the U.S. and Canada experience symptoms of burnout, and in May 2019, the World Health Organization deemed burnout an official medical diagnosis. 

Burnout happens for a multitude of reasons, and it’s not uncommon in the United States because the average employee works more than 40 hours a week due to constant availability via phone and email. This work-life imbalance is one of the top causes of burnout today. Others include lack of control over your schedule, unclear or unfair job expectations, and dysfunctional or toxic workplace culture.

Read more: Why Working Women Struggle With Burnout

The Mayo Clinic has a great list of questions for you to ask yourself if you think you might be burned out. Whether you’re experiencing burnout or trying to proactively avoid it, here are 25 tips for bringing joy back to your life and your work.

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1. Retrace your steps

If you just recently started feeling a little less motivated at work or regularly irritated with your boss or particularly frustrated with certain types of projects, it might be time pinpoint when you started feeling those negative emotions creep up. Sometimes finding the source of your burnout helps keep you from spiraling and motivates you to take action.

2. Educate yourself

There are actually three types of burnout: overload, under-challenge, and neglect. They are all triggered by different situations. Take some time to read up on burnout and its causes and find resources that relate to your specific situation.

3. Evaluate your options

If you feel comfortable talking to your supervisor about how you’re feeling, set up a meeting to evaluate your current workload and discuss how you can better prioritize projects to avoid burnout in the future.

4. Get inspiration from people you admire

There is plenty of advice out there from successful people who have learned how to fight exhaustion and burnout in their busy careers. A great place to start is with this article from Fast Company.

5. Take a break

Sometimes you need a good old-fashioned vacation to rest and reset. Just don’t forget to unplug and turn off those pesky notifications!

6. Try a relaxing activity

Do you like yoga? Or maybe you prefer a 60-minute massage? No matter what you find relaxing, try to make time in your busy schedule to do something nice for yourself and bring relaxation into focus.

7. Get some exercise

Endorphins are great for stress. Go for a run, swim, or even take a brisk walk, and feel the negative energy melt away.

8. Get some sleep

I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get enough sleep at night, stressful situations feel so much more overwhelming. Try setting a bedtime alarm to make sure you’re rested and ready to tackle what awaits you in the office.

9. Practice mindfulness

This is something you can do at your desk or first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Focus on the flow of your breath and become aware of what you’re feeling in each moment, without judgment. Practicing mindfulness at work may allow you to face situations confidently and stress less.

10. Find joy

Think about the parts of your job that you really love and look forward to those pockets of joy throughout your day. Having something to look forward to can help those tough moments go by faster.

11. Put free time on your calendar

Struggling with work-life balance? Why not schedule free time in between all of those meetings and emails? Maybe it’s a walk during your lunch break or an hour of Netflix binging when you get home. Adding moments into your day to take your mind off work can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

12. Seek support

Maybe your feelings of burnout are too far gone to be remedied by a simple mindfulness technique or eight hours of sleep a night. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to seek support from a coworker, friend, or even a professional therapist. Taking care of yourself should be your top priority. After all, you can’t do your job 100 percent if you’re not feeling 100 percent.

Read more: 50 Self-Care and Workplace Wellness Ideas for You, Your Team, and Your Company

13. Look at your personal life

What does your time outside of work look like? Are you doing things that bring you joy? Maybe you take up a new hobby or workout class or spend more time with friends. Maximizing your personal life will help you take a break from the fast-paced environment of an office.

14. Prioritize work-life balance

This one is difficult because Americans’ workdays become increasingly longer with every year, but if you can, set scheduling boundaries with yourself. Try locking your email app on your phone from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. or spend a few moments in the morning engaging in meditation.

15. Change up your routine

Most days, I come home from work, change into sweatpants, and lounge on the couch, binging Netflix, until I go to bed. If that’s you, that’s not a bad thing—burnout is exhausting! But maybe you should start to take a few days a week to switch up your routine. Try going to a coffee shop and reading a book or taking a yoga class. Getting yourself out of a rut can help you make tremendous strides when you’re feeling burned out.

16. Pursue your passion

Do you often find yourself saying, I like my job, but I’m just not super passionate about it? It might be time to pursue your true passion. That could be in the form of a side-hustle or a painting class or a weekly dinner with friends. Whatever your passion is, you don’t have to put it aside for your day job.

17. Know your breaking point(s)

If you’ve noticed that certain situations or people make you feel burned out, stay aware of those breaking points and try to avoid them if you can.

18. Pace yourself

A lot of burnout tends to happen when we push ourselves through loads of overwhelming work. If you can, take the time to space out your projects in order to work at a healthy pace.

19. Minimize the amount of time you’re working on things you don’t enjoy

Most of us have parts of our jobs that we don’t love but we have to do anyway. If you feel comfortable chatting with your supervisor about those tasks, let them know that you’d like to minimize the amount of time you’re working on them and see if there are other people who can help you out.

20. Learn something new

Are there other areas of your company that you’re interested in? Challenge yourself to learn something about another department or to work on a project you wouldn’t typically work on. Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones to get out of burnout ruts.

21. Bring toys or coloring books to work

This one may sound silly, but it really can work. Keep a stress ball, fidget gadget or coloring book at your desk. When you’re in a moment of high stress, take a break and turn your focus to something more soothing or fun to calm you down.

22. Surround yourself with a team that empowers you

If you have the ability to choose your team members, create a team of people who you get along with and who will support and empower you through stressful times.

23. Schedule regular 1:1’s with your boss or your team

Constant communication is key in office environments. If you have weekly meetings with your boss, it might be easier to have conversations about burnout and other work-related stress.

24. Set clear boundaries 

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and say no to projects that might overwhelm you. There are always special cases, but being able to let people know how you work and why you might not be able to work on some projects will help you cultivate a healthier day-to-day.

25. Live in the present

Maybe this seems obvious, but living in the present is a helpful tool to implement when you’re feeling burned out. Most stress and anxiety comes from the fear of the future or the unknown. Tackling problems one at a time can keep you from feeling overwhelmed by all of the future tasks you need to complete and allow you more stress-free days.

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