7 Best Tricks For Combatting Burnout, According To Experts
The dangers of work burnout are pretty clear. There's that familiar creeping feeling as we get further and further along a path that isn't working for us. We know that we're starting to feel fatigued or just blah — and that any joy we've found in our work is just disappearing. We become worse at our jobs and, often we're not so good in the rest of our lives either. But how can you tell exactly when you're actually burnt out — and how can you deal with work burnout? Well, it starts by checking in with yourself.
"Pay attention to how you're feeling at work, and even after work," Sharon Kaslassi, account executive of Blonde2.0 tells Bustle over email. "We all say that work should stay in the office (but let's be real, with tech and companies moving at record speed, we often take home with us). If you're feeling exhausted, stressed, and overall fried and can't get out of this 'funk' you're feeling, you're probably burned out. This also goes along with having negative feelings, and perhaps even angry, toward work. You feel like your personality may be hanging, and even depersonalized with a lack of empathy toward clients."
Reaching burnout is a tough place to be in — but luckily, you're not alone, because it's more common than you think. Of course it's best to deal with burnout before it gets too bad, but there are ways to come back from it. It might mean taking a big step back from work and having to set up some real boundaries, but it can be done. So how do you come back from work burnout? Here's what the experts had to say.
1. Embrace Saying "No"
You. Can. Say. No. I know it's hard to believe — and many of us have people-pleasing wired into us, myself included. But you can turn down things that just don't work for you. The first step is to say "no" to the things making your burnout worse and "yes" to the things that make you better. "Create boundaries for yourself for fun and say yes to things that feel restorative," Gestalt Life Coach and psychotherapist, Nina Rubin, tells Bustle. It sounds simple, but it can take a while if you're used to saying "yes" to everything.
2. Take Time Off
Whether you are definitely burnt out or just approaching it, consider taking a break — maybe for an afternoon or much longer. "Taking any time off, especially for a vacation is really important to avoid burnout... even if it's just a personal day to go to the beach, lake or take your family to an amusement park," career coach and founder and recruiter of Ninja Recruiting, Jennifer Yeko, tells Bustle. "Staycations are also popular these days." Make sure to really unplug — that means ignoring work emails for a while.
3. Find Some Short-Term Coping Skills
"Right now you feel like a pressure cooker and you need an outlet to let out your frustration," Kaslassi tells Bustle. "That could be at the gym, swimming, playing video games, basketball, etc. Whatever your outlet is for letting out that aggression and intensity you feel, do it on the regular. It'll help keep you grounded and focused." If you don't have a go-to coping mechanism, start by trying new things — from mindfulness to baking to rock climbing — until you find something that works for you.
4. Change Your Routine
It might not be how much you're working that's driving you to burnout — it could be what you're doing. "Sometimes burnout happens from doing the same thing day in and day out and a switch up in your routine can help," Kaslassi tells Bustle. "Communication is key. Talk to your manager about taking on new tasks, or switching to other clients that may require different efforts from you. A chance of scenery like this can also make your job more exciting." Look for little changes that can make a big difference.
5. Reach Out
Often, when we're feeling at the end of our rope, we find it easier to focus on trying to keep the stress at bay and eventually just ... implode. Remember, you have people around you and you can reach out to them. "Spend time outside of work with people you don't work with," says Kaslassi to Bustle. "It's a form of emotional support that will help keep you engaged and also a different way of letting off some steam. Feel free to vent to them, too. They've probably been through burnout before and will offer some good advice."
6. Be Realistic
One of the worst things about burnout is it often makes us worse at our jobs — so we keep trying to take on more and more to counterbalance it and show we're "good". It's a vicious cycle and one you should try to break. "Set better boundaries to leave work at a certain time, take planned days off to rest, make your weekends more fulfilling," Rubin says to Bustle. "Don't commit to things that you can’t or won’t fulfill. Instead protect your time at all costs." Rather than take on more, try focusing on doing well on the tasks at hand — while protecting your mental health.
It may sound extreme, but sometimes the only way to combat burnout is to change your job completely. "If you've tried different ways of getting over burnout but you feel like it's either quit or lose your sanity, then quit," Kaslassi tells Bustle. "It doesn't help anyone when you're miserable at work — your work suffers, you suffer, and it also impacts the people around you. Try to find a job that gives you a purpose — find the deeper impact of that that job is every day." It might be a big move, but it's worth it to protect your mental health.
Work burnout is such a common issue — but there are ways to cope. See if you shift things in your job (and outside of it) to create a healthier, more sustainable role. And, crucially, don't be afraid to ask for help.