In feeling burned out, the first step to take is to acknowledge that you are burned out and need to take some rest. From there, you have to take a break, try some relaxing activities, recover your health, seek social support, and finally address what could be the root cause of your burnout.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a feeling of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that comes from prolonged stress. Burnout can be caused by working too many hours without breaks, and when you're not taking care of yourself, your health suffers. When you're stressed and exhausted, your immune system isn't at full strength, and this leaves you open to getting sick or emotionally exhausted. Workplace burnout has been linked to increased absenteeism, higher turnover rates, and lower performance reviews for employees.
What's behind burnout? The problem lies deeper than just feeling unenthusiastic about what you do every day because even when we don't like our jobs we usually still go to them and give it our best effort. Instead, burnout is caused by chronic stressors that constantly wear down our mental reserves and make us feel like there's no point in trying anymore. They take away our excitement for what we do and leave us with feelings of emptiness and apathy.
So what should we do the moment we feel burned out?
Acknowledge that you are burned out
Burnout is hard to identify because it can feel like so many different things. The two biggest signs that you're burned out are feeling physically tired and struggling to focus. When you're physically exhausted and mentally foggy, it's hard to be productive in any way, whether at work or at home. If this sounds like you, then give yourself a break!
The first step to feeling better is recognizing and acknowledging the fact that you are burned out. It doesn't matter why you're tired or how hard you're working—when you're tired all the time, it's time to take a break and get out of the office.
Engage in relaxing activities
If you feel like you're burning out under the weight of your responsibilities, there are ways to take care of yourself and get through it. One way is to engage in relaxing activities that have nothing to do with your everyday life. It may sound like a simple solution, but taking the time to stop and breathe whenever you need to is the first step toward regaining your zen-like balance and understanding what might have caused you to get burned out in the first place. Making sure to take time out each day for doing something that helps you clear your mind and reenergizes your body is an important part of preventing yourself from burning out.
If you're used to unwinding by watching TV or scrolling through social media, try going for a long walk or reading a book instead. If you've been meaning to try out different relaxation techniques (meditation, yoga, breathing exercises), find some guided resources online and give them a shot—you might be surprised at how well they help you reset.
Recover your health with deep rest
Give yourself time to recover. Take the time to fix your body clock, get enough sleep, gain back your appetite, and eat healthily. It could also help to engage in some time for mindfulness and meditation to get into a calmer and peaceful headspace. The secret is to stop thinking about work and allow yourself to rest.
If your job is genuinely affecting your health, consider taking a day off or cutting back hours so that you don't burn yourself out before the holidays are even over.
Seek social support
Feeling burned out and being in the process of trying to recuperate can be an uncertain time. It would genuinely help to have people around who know about your struggles, who can give you advice and guidance, and who can even provide a listening ear so that you can talk through your problems.
This is especially useful if there are particular aspects of your job that are what's causing the burnout—they can help you figure out how to let go of that problem while still keeping everything else in place.
You may find that there is some aspect of your life that needs more attention and time invested into it or something in your life that isn't working for you anymore—it can be anything from something small like your job to the way you are living your life as a whole.
Preventing future burnout
Once you get the hang of trying to get yourself back together, it may also be time to take a step back and evaluate your current work situation. Think about the root cause of your burnout. If you don’t get to determine it, you can end up in a never-ending cycle of burning out and recovery.
Aside from being a sign of your body telling you something is wrong, it can also be a sign that you need a change in your lifestyle.
If you're feeling burned out and need a change, it's important to have a plan of action.
All your work is not in vain. You can always find value in your accomplishments, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Over time, as you grow closer and more accustomed to your job, new opportunities will come up. Stay open to the possibility that these changes could lead you in a direction that's even better than what you had before.
You can also try to communicate with your boss, client, or your team about how the current setup or workflow is taking a toll on you physically, mentally, and emotionally and try to solve things from there.
Burnout is a serious issue. It can make you more susceptible to illness and can negatively impact your ability to complete plans, projects, and assignments. While you may be unable to remove the root cause of your burnout, you can take certain steps to help manage it. Listen to yourself and try some of these tips, and hopefully, you'll start feeling like your old self again before long.
For now, keep in mind the following signs and symptoms of burnout and check on yourself from time to time:
- Loss of enthusiasm and passion you once had for work
- No sense of accomplishment after finishing tasks
- Trouble concentrating or focusing on what needs to be done
- Patience has gotten shorter than usual
- Feeling physically drained at the end of a workday, even if you don't have a lot of actual work to show for it
Also, here are some apps, resources, and content you can turn to whenever you feel burned out.