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You’re Burned Out By Your Job. Now What?

In early 2022, I was reaching a breaking point at work.


I was exhausted. I had daily tension headaches from sitting at my desk for long hours. I never made plans on weekdays because I couldn’t muster the energy. I had such intense ’Sunday scaries’ that to manage my anxiety, I began to self-isolate from friends and family starting at 2 pm on Sunday afternoon.


Feeling like there wasn’t a way out of this rut was daunting. However, the changes I made in response to that burnout have had lasting benefits for my health and overall well-being.


So, what can we do to combat burnout once it hits? What about burnout in those, myself included, who tend to be people pleasers?


1.     Vacation & Sick Days: Are you one of those people who hoards their vacation and sick days for some non-specific time when you will need them? What if a disease or vacation catches you off guard and you’ll need all your 150 hours at that time?  


Well, the time to use them is now.


  • On particularly tough days when you need recovery time, take some sick hours to support your mental and physical well-being. Sick days aren’t just for the flu – they’re also for your mental health.

  • Schedule some three-day weekends over the next few months. These are an opportunity to breathe and relax while also giving you something to look forward to in the weeks leading up to them.

  • If possible, take a few weeks of vacation and completely unplug from the office. Turn off any work notifications on your phone, and do not bring your computer. Just do activities that will nourish you.


2.     Set Boundaries: For those like me, this is much easier said than done. But a good place to start is to identify your stressors and the immediate changes you can make the improve your situation. Next, develop a plan to implement change.


Consider connecting with your manager and explain that you are experiencing symptoms of burnout and present the plan you’ve developed to set boundaries with your workload and projects.


Once you start executing your plan, you may receive some pushback from your colleagues – but that’s the time to double down. Once your colleagues have seen (and perhaps tested) your boundaries, they are more likely to adhere to them.


Ultimately, this is a way to regain control over your workday and workload —something you always have the right to do.


3.     Be Compassionate With Yourself: It’s easy to blame yourself for the burnout. I was the first to defend my manager and company because I had ultimately said “yes” to the work.


But in today’s workplace, there is a lot of pressure to be the person who always says “yes”, because that’s one way of demonstrating your value – especially at the beginning of your career. So, remember that your work product, skillsets, and self are the most valuable components you bring to your job, not just the quantity of your work output.


It can be hard to maintain your boundaries when colleagues express frustration or disappointment, but you deserve the space and ability to maintain your health and well-being.


4.     Consider Changing Jobs: Frankly, some workplaces and positions are not sustainable. You may be surrounded by people who work all day and night, and you will not be promoted or rewarded if you push back on that expectation.


So, take stock; is this position or company worth the toll it takes on your mental and physical health? If not, it may be time for a change.


Reach out to your network and do your research to find new opportunities that offer a healthier workplace culture. When interviewing, ask discerning questions to determine the demands of this new position.


And if/when you start your new job, set boundaries right from the start — it’s much easier to establish them at the beginning than adding them in later.


Burnout can feel isolating, but you are not alone, and there are many resources out there to help you. Do your research, take the time to think through your options and next steps, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Written by: Christina Burns

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1 comentario

14 jun

Thank you for sharing your story. Despite the fact that many will experience some degree of burnout over their career, this is a difficult subject for many because it often is accompanied by feelings of failure or fear of judgment. Your suggestions are helpful and will be shared with my team at our next meeting.

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