How To Deal With Burnout

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 5, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Burnout can be a possibility in the workplace, regardless of your role or industry. It's a type of work-related stress that can impact your mental and physical health. There are many causes, so knowing how to deal with burnout in a healthy way is important to stay motivated and satisfied at work. In this article, we define burnout at work, review the common signs of it, and list 15 ways you can cope with burnout.

What is burnout at work?

Burnout is the feeling of mental or physical exhaustion that leads employees to feel unmotivated or discouraged at work. Anyone can experience burnout at any point in their career from being overworked or unappreciated. Here are the common types of burnout:

  • Under-challenge burnout: Employees that don't feel challenged at work may start exhibiting boredom. This can lead to burnout as employees feel like they're unappreciated as their skills and qualifications are going to waste.

  • Overload burnout: Overload burnout occurs when employees have too much work or unrealistic expectations from their employer. This causes them to put too much time and effort into their work so they can't have a healthy work-life balance.

  • Neglect burnout: Neglect burnout results from employees feeling like their work performance is inadequate as they aren't receiving feedback or support. This can cause employees to struggle to keep up with their work.

Signs that you're experiencing burnout

Temporary feelings of tiredness, stress, or anxiety at work can be confused with burnout. To help you determine if you're experiencing burnout or just having a rough week at work, here are some common signs to watch out for:

Feelings of tiredness and exhaustion at work

Tiredness can occur if you don't sleep well, have a long commute, or are dealing with personal issues. But, if you constantly feel exhausted at work, it may be a sign of burnout.

Feelings of sadness or anxiety at work

If you are feeling unappreciated, stressed, or neglected at work, it can cause you to become sad or anxious, which is a sign of burnout. If these feelings occur consistently, it's important you determine a plan of action to improve your mental and emotional state.

Disengagement and trouble focusing at work

When tasks become too hard or too simple for you, you may become disengaged or have trouble focusing at work. This is a sign of burnout as you're no longer being challenged or your employer's expectations of you are too high.

Cynicism toward job and coworkers

Cynicism, the belief that other people are self-focused, is a common sign of burnout. You start feeling underappreciated, leading you to become cynical and blame the job or your co-workers.

Decrease in work performance

Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, sad, or anxious can lead to a decrease in work performance, another common sign of burnout.

Related: How to Avoid Burnout in 10 Steps (With Definition and Signs)

How to deal with burnout

Here are 15 ways to deal with burnout at work so you can eliminate your negative feelings and reclaim your passion and motivation for work:

1. Go on vacation

Taking a vacation is a great way to deal with burnout. It gives you a break from work, whether it's a short weekend away or a trip to another country, preventing monotony. Don't be afraid to take vacation time as it's important to take time for yourself, giving you the opportunity to recharge and return motivated to work.

2. Talk to your employer

If you're constantly feeling stressed by your job, talk to your employer about it. They want to help you do your best work, so discussing a course of action that benefits everyone can help prevent burnout. They may help you obtain a different position or adjust your responsibilities at work.

Related: 14 Ways to Start a Conversation (With Examples)

3. Take leave from work

If a short vacation didn't help increase your motivation and improve your mood, you may want to consider taking extended leave from work. Look at your work contract or talk to your employer about your options for leave. Many companies offer sabbaticals, either paid or unpaid, to give their employees a break and prevent burnout. Make use of these benefits and take the time off to pursue your interests or spend time with loved ones.

4. Change your routine

Some people thrive when working with a routine, while strict routines can lead to burnout for others. If your routine is becoming monotonous and leading to burnout, change it! Take a different route to work, switch your work hours, or visit a new café or restaurant on your break. Changing your routine will add more excitement to your work life and challenge you in different ways.

5. Change your work environment

Similar to having a strict routine, working in the same environment every day can be monotonous and cause burnout. Try changing your work environment to add more excitement to your work. Talk to your manager about trying a new workspace in the office, working from home a few days a week, or switching up your space.

6. Talk to a family member or friend

Talking about your feelings is a great way to get them out and move on. Talk to your friends or family for their support or write your feelings in a journal. The emotional release should help lower your stress or find the cause of it to eliminate it.

7. Remind yourself of your purpose within your company

If you've been with the same employer for a long time, you may feel burnout by forgetting how your role contributes to your company. Your company needs you to succeed, so taking the time to remind yourself of that and appreciating your purpose at work can help limit burnout.

8. Engage with your coworkers differently

If you're experiencing burnout at work, some of your co-workers may be feeling the same way or have dealt with it in the past. Try to be more sociable with your co-workers so you can exchange advice or tips on dealing with burnout. Sometimes just knowing someone else feels the same way as you can help. Suggest going out for lunch, coffee, or maybe a happy hour each week or month to improve your relationships and limit burnout.

9. Plan fun events during your time off

Having something to look forward to during your time off can motivate you to work harder leading up to the event. It can be something as simple as meeting your friends for brunch, going to the movies, or exploring your area. Doing something outside of work takes your mind off of the stress you've been feeling.

Related: Sunday Scaries: Causes and How to Manage Them

10. Join a group or club to explore your interests

Another great way to have something to look forward to outside of work is to join a club or group that explores your interests. As spending too much time at work can cause burnout, fit other activities into your schedule instead. Think about your interests and research a club or group in your area to pursue them. For example, if you're artistic, join an art class.

11. Take frequent breaks throughout the day

Working non-stop throughout the day can cause you to feel tired, overworked, or unappreciated, leading to burnout. Try to take small breaks between tasks so you can come back feeling refreshed and motivated to work. Take a short walk outside, go get a cup of coffee, or sit and meditate.

12. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine

Another great way to clear your mind and improve your mood at work is to exercise at least once a day. You can exercise on your break by going for a walk or try going to the gym or an exercise class when your schedule allows it. A quick 45-minute class is a great way to release your stress and feel more energized at work.

13. Change your diet

Certain foods and beverages may be contributing to your exhaustion or anxiety, causing your burnout or making it worse. For example, drinking a lot of coffee may cause feelings of anxiousness. Try creating a food diary where you monitor what you're eating and how it makes you feel so you can make positive changes to your diet and limit burnout.

14. Set daily goals

Having daily goals and checking them off your list is a great way to motivate yourself. It also helps break down your bigger tasks so they don't seem as overwhelming. Set small, achievable goals to help you get through your tasks and improve your mood. Some great examples of daily goals are:

  • Respond to 10 emails

  • Write 1500 words

  • Stretch between tasks

  • Talk to a co-worker

  • Check-in with five clients

Read more: A Guide to Self-Motivation in the Workplace

15. Move on from your current employer

If you've tried these tasks and still don't see a change, you may want to consider a new job. Your current role simply may be too challenging or not challenging enough. So, look at internal promotions or potential opportunities with other companies to stop constantly experiencing burnout.

Now that we've reviewed how to deal with burnout in 15 ways, you'll be better prepared to make changes necessary to maintain a healthy balance at work.

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