How to recover from burnout in your current job

Susanna Kahr

Dreading Mondays, wondering what the point is, or feeling cynical about every meeting on your calendar, that is a good indicator that something is off. Consequently, if you start to notice more severe signs like depression and stress related physical pain, that is a major sign you are burnt out. Burnout is a serious matter that affects many people in the workforce, which can lead to more severe and even life threatening health issues later on. For this very reason, it is important give your time to cope and deal with your feelings accordingly before starting to work again. The good news is, you don’t have to quit your job to free yourself from the suffocating feelings. Here are five ways to power through burnout and put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your career.

1. Recognize that you’re in charge of your feelings and engage in self-care

It can be noticed that people who are burnt out tend to shift the blame on other people for their bad circumstances. This is a quite natural thing to do if you feel stuck and don’t know how to fix it. While a grumble about what’s gone wrong feels good in the moment, in the long term it puts you into a victim mindset where you can’t take positive action to fix things. You may not feel in charge but chances are you have more agency than you think. Start by recognizing the ways your choices and actions shape your future. By doing something positive today, you can create a happier tomorrow. Positivity comes in many forms and engaging in activities for your own self-care, help tremendously. Even a small step to make things better will decrease negative feelings and free up some mental space. Start your day with emptying an inbox or indulging in your favorite hot drink or food. Implement self-care routines and find the little things that calm you down. Those can be the little steps that make stressful situations less dire.

2. Move around and keep yourself nourished

When you are having a down moment, you need to be gentle with yourself. Emotionally exhausting work can zap your energy, so you might need more sleep and nutrients than you normally would. It’s even more important to remember to move and stretch your body. Getting your body active releases endorphins that fuel your happy hormones. Get as many of those as you can by complementing the movement with good meals. It can be difficult to have the desire to eat when you are stressed, but having a few tried and true meals that you enjoy, ready in hand, already make this seemingly daunting task a little bit easier. Take breaks when you can. Even a simple coffee break reinforces the fact that you are in control. Over time, a daily coffee break can restore that sense of agency you may have misplaced so that you’re ready to claim more control–say, leaving work at work when you clock out.

Want to take a mental health day? Here, you can find out how to ask for one!

3. Pinpoint the problems

Working through steps one and two should get you into a calmer and more stable place. Once your head is clearer, think about what is out of whack so you can take the right action to fix things. People generally develop work dissatisfaction for one of six reasons:

  • Unfair, hostile, or toxic work environment 
  • Heavy workload where you are unable to keep up with tasks 
  • Loss of control or agency with respect to deadlines, duties, or work processes 
  • Inappropriate reward, either financial or intrinsic 
  • Low morale and camaraderie with coworkers 
  • Workplace values are a bad fit to personal beliefs 

While you might be able to address some problems within the workplace,– like regaining control over work duties– if the problem is too large for you to solve on your own such, it could be time to job-hunt. In either case, you will probably feel a sense of relief once you’ve pinpointed the issue, because you can move toward an action that will solve things. You’ve also learned your job environment needs, which will help you find a strong fit if you need to change jobs.

Did you know that burnout is now officially an occupational phenomenon? Here, you can find out more!

4. Delegate and open up

If you find yourself role jumping and taking on a lot, it is beneficial for your burnout to take a few steps down and see how you can spread the tasks out. Are you delegating the things you can to the resources you have? If you are self-employed, can you outsource a task you don’t like to free up time?

People who feel like they are the only one who can do something tend to develop burnout because they feel they are the only ones who able to perform all the tasks necessary. Perhaps they insist on doing everything their way. Ease into delegating by assigning one task to someone– for example, social media management if you’re not a fan of composing witty tweets. Detach from the way the other person does that task, then see how it feels to have one less item on your to-do list.

5. Explicitly plan to take time for yourself

This can be difficult to do when you are suffering job burnout due to overwork. For this very reason, explicitly plan the time you are going to take for yourself, and stick with it. Do not just tell yourself you will do the things you need and want to, but put it in your planner. Save a special date and leave it only for yourself to do something you wish to. You’ll start to feel better simply because your job shrinks down to a proportional role in your life, rather than being the sole focus of your waking hours.

If work-life balance has started to seem nonexistent and fairytale like, think about what you used to do when you had more free time, then schedule those activities on your evenings or days off. Schedule a vacation, even if all you can swing is a long weekend in a nearby city. As you implement these tips, things will start to improve. You may fall in love with your job all over again. And if you don’t, it could be time to hunt for a better fit–but with burnout under control, you’ll be able to move the job search at your pace, rather than feeling the desperation that comes with looking for a life raft off a dead-end job.

 

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