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Tag Archives: deal with work burnout

You’re feeling exhausted or lethargic. Work, and life in general, holds little interest for you. You dread checking your email in the morning. You’d rather stay in bed than get up to face the day. Perhaps you’ve picked up unhealthy habits to cope with stress, irritation, or low productivity.

These are all signs of burnout.

Though burnout has always been an issue in the workplace, its presence has dramatically increased over the past couple of years. In an international survey, 90% of participants believed that their work lives were getting worse, and 60% were experiencing frequent burnout. Those figures are troubling, to say the least!

Burnout can feel heavy or stressful. It can dim your usual joy. How can you cope with such a troubling emotion? Try these 6 approaches*…

*If you’re coping with something more than burnout, please seek consultation from a licensed therapist or other mental health professional.

1. Pinpoint the source

It’s difficult to deal with burnout if you don’t fully understand the cause. “Work” might be too general to blame on burnout (maybe you love or enjoy certain aspects of your job). Whenever you’re starting to feel anxious, stressed, or exhausted, think about why that is. Do you feel this way whenever you need to check in with a certain co-worker or superior? Does a certain task make you feel drained? Pinpointing the source of your burnout can help you figure out solutions.

2. Know your limits

For many people, burnout occurs when we take on too much work or when we agree to do things that are well outside our abilities or scope of interest. When you’re overloaded or you’re asked to do something outlandish, say no. It is possible to decline with grace (more HERE), and offer other potential solutions for the task at hand.

For example: “This assignment is well outside my skillset. Have you considered approaching Beth about it?”

Or: “I have a full plate right now and adding one more thing is simply not feasible. Can we push this back to next month or shuffle around some of my other assignments?”

3. Create healthy boundaries

With so many people working out of a home office, it can be easy to blur the lines between work and home. Commit to only working or answering emails within a certain time frame. Stick to a routine and do your best to separate your professional world from your private one. You might even get dressed for work in the morning and go on a walk as a kind of “commute.” Whatever it takes to get in the work zone!

4. Take a meaningful break

At times, we simply need to step away from work for a while and take a break. See if you can get away for at least a couple of weeks to rest up and rejuvenate. Make the break a meaningful one. Don’t answer calls or check work emails. If finances are a constraint, take a “staycation” and practice your version of self-care (reading, catching up on sleep, painting, mountain biking…).

5. Unwind with a hobby

One way to combat burnout is to pick up an after-work hobby. You might choose to do something calm and relaxing (yoga, cooking classes, photography) or something energizing and invigorating (spin classes, training your dog in agility). Your meaningful hobby can be a kind of oasis—a getaway that you can regularly look forward to.

6. Simplify

Ask yourself: Is there any part of my life that I can simplify? Is there any task I can cut out or assign to someone else?

At work, look for ways to make your day more efficient. Could information be conveyed through a simple phone call, rather than a back-and-forth email chain? Are you reporting the same information to different people, when you could loop everyone in with a single Zoom meeting? Is there anything that makes sense to delegate to someone else?

In your personal life, is there anything you can hire out to someone else (lawn work, cleaning, car repair, meal prep)? Is there anything you can cut out?

Burnout is an epidemic, and it’s time we all dealt with it. There are certain steps you can take on your own (the above list is only the tip of the iceberg), but burnout is also something that should be considered at an organizational level. If you feel comfortable doing so, talk with superiors about ways to prevent employee burnout. If you’d like ideas on how to frame such a conversation, send me a note.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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