Dealing With Burnout at Work: Signs, Symptoms, and 6 (Easy) Steps to Take Immediately

Dealing With Burnout at Work

Burnout is a term we hear often, with 75% of employees experiencing it at some point. If you’re feeling exhausted, hopeless, and withdrawn, you may be burnt out, and this article will help. Dealing with burnout is possible.

Learn what burnout is and what you can do to regain control.

What is Burnout?

Dealing with burnout starts with understanding what it is, so let’s dive in.

Burnout is physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive, enduring stress. It’s defined by a loss of identity and reduced feelings of accomplishment. Burnout leaves you feeling resentful, hopeless, and without energy.

Unfortunately, although work can cause burnout, its effects will impact your personal life. It may affect your physical health and make you more vulnerable to colds and flu.

Burnout recently became an official medical diagnosis in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases. So yes, it’s a real phenomenon, despite what some people may tell you.

Pre-Burnout Signs & Burnout Symptoms

Let’s talk about two things: pre-burnout signs and burnout symptoms.

Pre-Burnout Signs

Perhaps you aren’t burnt out yet. To help you better understand whether you’re dealing with burnout or are on your way there, let’s talk about some factors that may lead to burnout:

  • Constant exhaustion
  • Working so hard your personal life becomes almost non-existent (no time for family, friends, self-care, sleep, etc.)
  • Lack of care toward your personal life (usually due to lack of time)
  • Feeling like nothing you do is appreciated or meaningful
  • Feeling like all days are bad days
  • Dreading Mondays and the start of the workday

Battling these feelings for an extended time with no end indicates that you’re on your way to being burnt out. We’ll discuss later in this article how to combat burnout, which will also apply to stopping yourself from becoming burnt out.

Related: 7 Tips For Quitting a Job Professionally and Maintaining Those Relationships

Burnout Symptoms

We all have stressful days where we feel exhausted or underappreciated. However, you may be burnt out if you feel this way all the time. 

Burnout is a slow process you may not be aware of, so paying attention to the following red flags is essential. Ignoring them can lead to a full-on breakdown, which can be harder to recover from. 

Here are some burnout symptoms

  • Constant exhaustion
  • Poor appetite
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Headaches or other physical pain
  • Frequent illnesses
  • Negative or cynical outlook at work
  • Feeling helpless or trapped
  • Self-doubt at work
  • Sense of career failure
  • Decreased satisfaction with work
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Using food, alcohol, or other substances to cope
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating excessively
  • Skipping work

Do a lot of these apply to you? If so, you may be dealing with burnout. We’ll discuss what to do about it, but first, let’s clarify the difference between depression and burnout.

Burnout vs. Depression

Symptoms of burnout can look a lot like depression. Some major overlapping symptoms include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Physical pain
  • Substances to cope
  • Poor sleep or appetite changes
  • Isolation or withdrawal
  • Feelings of helplessness

The big difference between burnout and depression is two-fold: depression lasts longer (a few weeks or more) and severely affects your personal life.

If negative feelings haven’t gone away for a few weeks, you may be depressed. Similarly, if you’re feeling hopeless, withdrawn, aren’t enjoying activities you used to, or are experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms in your personal life, this may be depression.

Eating, showering, and picking up after yourself might seem impossible with depression but they shouldn’t with burnout. 

Lastly, if mental health days or vacations don’t improve your mood, you’re likely dealing with something more serious than burnout.

If you think you’re experiencing depression, speak to a mental health professional. BetterHelp and are two places to start. You can also contact your insurance for resources.

For immediate help, especially if you’re dealing with suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-8255 (TALK)

You can also text “HOME” to 741741 to receive support for any crisis; a counselor will respond immediately.

6 Tips For Dealing With Burnout at Work

Dealing with burnout can seem overwhelming, but here are some simple tips to help you beat it.

  1. Prioritize Self-Care

One primary driver of burnout is sidelining self-care. Excessive working hours lead to deprioritization of self-care, which contributes to burnout.

Self-care can be quick. Just 10-15 minutes each day can help your mood substantially. You can meditate, go through your skincare routine, do yoga, or participate in any activity that suits you.

Prioritize exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet every day.

  1. Ask for Help

Let the people in your life know you’re experiencing burnout. This includes your boss and coworkers, as well as family and friends.

Ask for help with tasks at work and home to alleviate some of the strain you’re feeling. There’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed asking for help when needed!

  1. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries at work and home can help combat burnout. 

When you’re done with work, stay offline. Similarly, set aside time and space if you need “you” time away from home responsibilities such as caregiving. You can make your own space in the house to relax, such as a spare bedroom or part of the backyard.

  1. Stay Social

Even if it feels exhausting, staying in touch with friends is critical for dealing with burnout. If you don’t feel you have the time, make it! You’ll be happy you did.

  1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation help reduce burnout, stress, and even depression symptoms. Reducing stress through mindfulness can lead to a better mood, better sleep, and increased quality of life.

Mindfulness looks like this:

  • Moving your body
  • Pausing and focusing on deep breathing
  • Noting your environment – sights, scents, sounds
  • Listening to music
  • Meditating
  • Doing yoga

Try some of these out and see if they help.

  1. Make a Plan

If you’re dealing with burnout, reflecting on your experiences and what may have caused it is a good idea. Doing so will help you better identify early warning signs in the future and handle the situation.

Ask yourself:

  • What causes me the most stress?
  • What are the signs of burnout for me?
  • What risk factors can I reduce to minimize the occurrence of burnout?
  • What can I do immediately if I think I’m getting burnt out?
  • Who can I turn to for help?
  • What aspects of self-care do I need to continue prioritizing? 

Sometimes, It’s The Job

Sometimes, no matter what steps you take when dealing with burnout, symptoms don’t improve because of where you work. Burnout can worsen if your boss doesn’t take your symptoms seriously and continues to push you.

Excessive burnout can lead to depression and is associated with poor physical health, including heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and sleep disorders. You can’t live in a constant state of burnout.

If it’s time for a change, Jennings Executive specializes in matching the best talent with companies that respect their boundaries. Let us help you find an organization where you can thrive and leave burnout behind. Learn more.
Related: What is an Executive Search Firm? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Scroll to top