10 Ways to Identify Career Burnout & How to Make Changes

If you’re feeling sluggish, not as happy as usual, unmotivated, and stressed out, you may be experiencing job burnout. We’ve all been there at least one time in our careers. It’s a real thing.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Job burnout is a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work. If you think you might be experiencing job burnout, take a closer look at the phenomenon.”

Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone!

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Sometimes we can’t pinpoint exactly what’s wrong. But if we examine it more carefully, we can usually come up with what’s the cause of our burnout.

Here are a few telltale signs of burnout, some of which are subtle:

  • Falling behind on your work
  • Forgetting details that you don’t normally neglect
  • Irritated with your co-workers
  • Becoming less vocal, engaged, or present
  • Lacking energy and concentration
  • Lacking consistency
  • Dragging yourself out of bed
  • More critical of yourself and others
  • Poor performance
  • Wanting to be left alone

These are just a few of the signs. You just know something isn’t right. Stress isn’t all in your head — if not properly managed, it can lead to physical and emotional problems as well. There’s even a “stress hormone” in our bodies called cortisol, described by Healthy Way as the “chemical messenger the body produces when we’re feeling like we’re at the end of our rapidly fraying rope.”

So, what are the causes of burnout?

You may feel like you have less control over your job. Maybe you feel your tasks have become monotonous. Maybe you feel like your work takes up too much time in your life. Or perhaps you feel your job doesn’t fit your needs or skills. Maybe you feel underappreciated like your work doesn’t matter or isn’t good enough. Maybe you have too many demands being placed on you.

There’s any number of things that cause one to feel burned out at work. If you can’t figure out what’s going on with you and narrow down overwhelming feelings,  make a list in order to find some clarity.

What are the best ways to cope with job stress or burnout? Here are a few:  

Make Time to Take Care of Yourself

Stressed out people tend to neglect their basic needs. Don’t underestimate the health value of eating well, getting enough sleep, getting some exercise and hanging out with friends. While those things aren’t a cure-all, they can dramatically help you cope with the daily stresses of life and work. Taking care of yourself could mean taking periodic breaks throughout the day, going for a walk, or practicing meditation and breathing techniques.

Resist the urge to become a hermit. Isolating is not healthy for your mind, body and spirit. It might be all you can muster to get out the door, but it’s a first step in surrounding yourself with people who care about you.

Talk to Your Manager

Before you lose it, have a breakdown, or up and quit, talk to your boss or a trusted colleague. People often don’t seek help until they are spiraling. They aren’t your personal counselor, but good managers should be able to lend an ear and help you work through whatever it is you’re experiencing. Maybe they have solutions that you aren’t clear-headed enough to see. They want you to perform your best, so they should have the skills to help you prioritize what is the most important now.

“When we lose awareness of what is happening around us, we start to burn out,” according to Alan Trivedi of Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group. “We become less present and easily get lost in our own judgments and assumptions about what is happening and what is important.”

Look at Your Options

It’s not solely up to your manager to get things back on track. You should be able to articulate what the problem is and offer ways to fix it. Maybe expectations need to be changed. Perhaps you can delegate some of your tasks to another person to relieve some of the burden. Maybe you’d be more productive working from home a few days a week. The point is there’s a happy medium in there somewhere.

Focus on Time Management

Are you using your time wisely? Stress is triggered if you constantly feel behind the eight ball. Take a look at how you’re spending your time throughout the day. When dealing with work anxiety, you may find that you need to work on your time management skills by prioritizing each task and considering how long it will take to complete projects. Build in extra time so you don’t feel rushed. Make lists with the most important tasks at the top.

Value You What You Do

If your job depends on you helping others, take pride in the fact that you are needed and that your work matters. Maybe you have a special skill that no one else has. You could be super organized, good with numbers or an excellent writer. Everyone at your company has a role to play, and everyone brings different skills to the table. Even in a boring job, you can find something to be proud of. Focus on what you enjoy about your job. Be social to your coworkers. Just a little change in attitude may help remind you that you are in control and you do have purpose.

Keep your job in perspective and remember you do have options to avoid burnout. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel unhappy with your work , you can fix it. Nothing is insurmountable.

About the Author

Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.

1 Comment
  1. YONG SHEN LOH says

    I would really suggest everyone to read this book at least once in your life ( The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change)

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