Are You Burned Out at Work? Here’s How to Change It Around

“Burnout” is something of a buzzword, but it’s also a very real condition that occurs when workplace stress builds to the point of overwhelming you. Everyone has a bad day or even a bad week, but when it drags on for weeks on end, chronic workplace stress can start to cause physical and psychological symptoms. Here’s how to know if you’re burned out and what you can do to fix it.


Symptoms of Burnout

Like most stress-related conditions, the symptoms of burnout are highly personalized. If you’re experiencing more than a couple of these, though, burnout may be to blame.


  • Lack of enthusiasm about your work
  • Skating by on the bare minimum
  • Poor performance at work
  • Exhaustion or feeling drained
  • Physical symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, chest pain or gastrointestinal distress


Risks of Burnout

If you recognize the symptoms of burnout, it’s important to address the problem as soon as possible. If you continue down the same path, you’re at risk for depression, anxiety disorders, and even substance abuse. You may lose your job, or even decide to quit without a plan.


What to Do About Burnout

Common wisdom holds that the best cure for burnout is a vacation. It is true that if you’re able to take some time off, you can clear your head and decide how best to proceed. A vacation in a vacuum, though, won’t do much good in the long run. Instead, you need to take active steps to change your situation.

The first thing to address is your thought patterns. People who are prone to burnout tend to be perfectionists and to have trouble saying no. Learning to remove the self-imposed pressure to be perfect, and how to set healthy boundaries, can go a long way toward fixing burnout.

You’ll also need to address your workload. Burnout tends to set in when you have too much to do and not enough time to do it. If you have a reasonable boss and your workplace is otherwise supportive, initiate a professional conversation about decreasing your workload. Also, work on creating strategies for better managing your workload in the future.

If you’re in a toxic workplace, or if overwork is simply part of the company culture, it may be time to start thinking about moving on. A fresh start in a new place where you feel supported is often the ultimate cure for burnout. Just remember to bring what you’ve learned into your new workplace. Establish healthy boundaries from the beginning, monitor yourself regularly for signs of burnout, and prioritize your work-life balance.

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