tell-tale signs you’re experiencing burnout (and what to do about it)

Burnout is a real challenge in today’s busy, always-connected workplaces. Sometimes you just need a break to reset and recharge your emotional batteries. When you love your career or consider it your passion, it can be easy to find yourself giving your career your all and going overboard. If you’re dedicating yourself to your career to the point of neglecting other parts of your life, that’s a problem. Here are some signs you’re experiencing burnout and need to take a step back to refocus on your mental wellbeing.

Here are some of the more common signs of work burnout to look for. The more symptoms that speak to you, the higher the likelihood you’re suffering from burnout.

how to deal with burnout at work

your motivation is out the window

Do you find it difficult to get excited about your work, even though you typically enjoy your job? Everyone has work tasks they aren’t the biggest fan of, but if you’re finding it difficult to engage with your work on a consistent basis, that’s a red flag. You might find yourself procrastinating for long periods of time, or unable to stay focused on tasks for an extended period of time.

you don’t feel like being around others

When you’re burnt out, it often impacts your ability to interact with others in a productive way. The energy that’s required to socialize can seem overwhelming. You might not feel like being a part of projects where you have to collaborate with colleagues. Or maybe you avoid spending time with friends and family at home, finding you don’t have the emotional bandwidth to engage with them.

you get frustrated easily

When you’re overworked and burnt out, your emotional state is often raw and tense. You’re stressed and wound up, and more prone to negative feelings and outbursts. You find yourself getting upset over small things that wouldn’t normally be a big deal, snapping at others unnecessarily, or otherwise overacting emotionally.

you aren’t performing at your top level

When you’re burnt out, you may be able to go through the motions and technically get work done. But you know the work you’re turning in isn’t your best. You find yourself struggling to complete routine tasks that would usually be low-effort, or handing in work that you know you could have done better.

you think about work all the time

It’s impossible to turn your mind off of work. You’re focused on work even when you’re off the clock. You find it difficult to put work to the side and be mentally present during your downtime. At home, you’re constantly checking your email or completing work tasks. Even if you’re not actively working, you’re always thinking about work and making plans.

you’re relying on unhealthy coping strategies

Do you feel like you need some sort of vice or coping mechanism just to get through each day? Unhealthy coping strategies will vary by person. Maybe you turn to unhealthy sources of comfort such as excessive junk food, alcohol, or sleep to get through your workdays. Maybe you go overboard with partying in your social life. Or perhaps you withdraw completely from friends and family and isolate yourself. None of these things are healthy ways of coping with stress.

you’re having trouble sleeping

The amount of time and mental energy you spend on work is physically overloading your system. You’re physically and mentally exhausted, yet find it difficult to sleep, even though you know you desperately need rest. Insomnia is a common symptom of burnout and can exacerbate many of the other symptoms you experience.

your health is suffering

When you’re burnt out, it’s often more than a mental block. Symptoms will often affect your physical health. You might experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, fainting, or stomach issues such as ulcers. If your immune system is compromised by stress and poor upkeep of your health, you may also be more prone to catching common illnesses like colds and the flu.

if you’re feeling burnt out in your career and looking for a change, we can help you find a job with a culture that’s a better fit. reach out to a recruiter in your area to discuss what you’re looking for.

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tips to combat burnout at work

take some time off

It might sound like the obvious solution, but we’re going to say it anyway. If you have paid time off, use it! Don’t let the paid vacation days you’ve earned go to waste. If you don’t want to go away on vacation, a staycation is a perfectly acceptable option. If the idea of taking a week or more off at once sounds overwhelming, consider using your vacation days 1 or 2 at a time. For example: take every other Friday off and have a ‘me’ day. If your workplace offers balance days or personal days, don’t be afraid to use those as well – that’s what they’re there for! Taking short but frequent breaks from work allows you to check on your mental health and eliminates the pressure of preparing for a full vacation.

schedule work-free downtime

In today’s constantly connected workplaces, it’s easy to always keep one finger on the pulse of your work at all times. To truly reap the benefit of a vacation (or your evenings and weekends) allow yourself to take break from all aspects of your work (that includes email!) to focus on recharging your batteries and tending to your mental well being. Studies have proven that taking frequent breaks from work improves workers’ overall productivity. You’ll be a better, healthier employee if you use your vacation days and other downtime to take a mental break from work, so you can come back sharp and refreshed.

slow down and be flexible

Are you pushing yourself at work just because you can or think you should? More hours spent at work, or more output isn’t necessarily better. Often it’s better to slow down and make thoughtful decisions about how you spend your working hours. It’s okay to take your time to put out work that represents you at your best. We all have deadlines and things that need to be done on a schedule. But you’d be surprised how often there’s flexibility. If you’re battling with competing deadlines that just aren’t realistic – let your colleagues know. More often than not, adjustments can be made to ensure the project comes together successfully. It’s in everyone’s best interest to find a solution.

talk to your boss and colleagues

If you’re struggling at work, it’s instinctive to keep it hidden and put on a brave face. It’s hard to admit you’re struggling and need support, but that’s exactly what you should do. The effort of hiding burnout just adds another layer to your stress and anxiety. Over the last handful of years, mental health and burnout culture have drawn a lot of attention and stigma is slowly being diminished. Most workplaces have policies in place to support employees who are struggling with these issues. Some workplaces offer programs or resources you can tap into, often anonymously. However there’s value in sharing your struggles with your coworkers and manager. You colleagues can’t support you and help you lead a healthy work life if they don’t know what you’re going through.

stop aiming for perfection

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. When you’re constantly striving for perfection, it’s easy to get hung up on small details and spend an inordinate amount time and mental energy on tasks that have very little overall impact. Sometimes ‘good’ is more than enough for the situation. Ask yourself: am I spending my mental energy on things that will make an impact? If the answer is no, get it off your plate and move onto the next thing, even if it’s not quite perfect. Try to focus the bulk of your energy on tasks that will make a difference.

make sustainable changes

Adopt work habits you can stick with long-term. Burnout won’t be solved with quick fixes. There’s no magic remedy that will make burnout go away if you aren’t willing to change your work habits. Burnout is caused by pushing your body and mental state beyond a reasonable limit. If you don’t make meaningful changes, it’s just going to happen again. Take a hard look at your relationship with work and address your unhealthy habits. Whether you’re overworking, putting too much pressure on yourself, saying yes to everything, or indulging any number of other bad work habits, it’s important to be honest with yourself and be willing to make changes you can stick with.

if you’re feeling burnt out in your career and looking for a change, we can help you find a job with a culture that’s a better fit. reach out to a recruiter in your area to discuss what you’re looking for.

connect with a recruiter