For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.
Sometimes, it can almost seem like stress and exhaustion are just part of having a job — even a job you genuinely enjoy. People are much more likely to be heard complaining about work rather than speaking positively about it. It's so common to talk about job stress that it can sometimes be hard to recognize the signs of work burnout in your life.
Work burnout is a state of both physical and mental exhaustion that happens after feeling stress for a really long time. Work burnout symptoms include feeling completely unmotivated, bored, incapable, and kind of miserable. If you have work burnout, you probably feel like you can't do anything right, you might think your career future seems bleak, and you most likely have zero energy. While it can happen because of your job, it can negatively impact everything else in your life — and that's exactly why you need to learn how to deal with it.
It might seem like the most obvious solution is to find a new job. After all, if you're that unhappy, it must mean you need to change something, right? This might be true for some people, but most of the time, there are a lot of easier things you can do to deal with work burnout besides finding something else to do. Not only is finding a new job much easier said than done, it's also not guaranteed to help — it's kind of just pushing the problem aside to deal with it later. Your best bet is to focus on changing other aspects of your life that will make you feel happier and more satisfied with yourself. There are a lot of ways to deal with work burnout, and these suggestions will leave you feeling less stressed and make your job seem more manageable — even when things get tough.
If you've found yourself feeling more burnt out than usual in the last few weeks or months, try to pinpoint the reason. Did something specific happen at work? Were you passed up for a promotion? Did a co-worker start treating you badly? If you can figure out the cause, you can start trying to make things better. If you feel like you deserve more money or a better title, speak with your boss. If something is going on with a co-worker, talk to them or talk to HR. Take matters into your hands to give yourself a feeling of control.
Sometimes, though, work burnout isn't caused by just one big event, and is instead just a collective feeling of exhaustion. If that's the case, just try to think of ways you can make work more enjoyable, and then make a game plan to at least try to accomplish a few of those things.
If you have work burnout, then the feeling of being totally unmotivated to do anything isn't just happening at work — it's probably happening at home too. Maybe you come home and plop in front of the TV for the rest of the night, canceling social plans because you just can't deal with it. It's totally fine to relax and veg out sometimes, but if you're making it an everyday habit, you should switch things up. Coming home to do nothing isn't going to make you feel better — in fact, it will probably make you feel worse.
Instead, find things you can do that you genuinely enjoy. Set aside some time to cook, read, or go for a walk. Make plans with friends once or twice during the weekday. Start a new hobby. You might feel less than enthusiastic about it in the beginning, but push yourself and you'll find that it will eventually help. Part of work burnout is feeling blah, so doing things you enjoy is a great way to feel like you have a purpose.
While you definitely need to fill your time with things you enjoy that also make you feel productive, you also need to make time to just relax and give yourself a break. It doesn't need to be an hour — it can be however much time fits into your schedule, even if that's just 15 minutes. Use that time to totally relax, which can include anything from reading to writing in a journal to taking a quick nap.
At this point, you've probably heard that most Americans don't use up the amount of vacation days they're given each year — and if you've been hoarding yours, now is the time to start using them. When you're feeling serious work burnout, the answer isn't always to keep doing more to distract yourself. Sometimes, the answer is stepping away and taking a short break. Don't plan a staycation where you only want to get things done around the house, either — plan an actual vacation. You can do this even if you don't have a ton of money! Go somewhere close by rather than something extravagant. Set up a few weekend trips over the next few months. Or, plan a staycation where you actually make a point of relaxing.
Science has repeatedly shown that being social and having relationships with others is an important step in being happier. If you're feeling work burnout, you might just want to be alone, but you should push yourself to go out at least once or twice a week. Making time to see friends, even if you're just having a glass of wine in your kitchen, will cheer you up and keep you from focusing on your job so much.
On top of that, hanging with friends can give you people to vent to, and sometimes you might need that release. Opening up to others is a great way to get advice you might need and to feel a little bit less alone. Just make sure not every social gathering involves you talking about work.
When you're experiencing job burnout, mornings can be really tough. You feel unmotivated, and waking up to get ready for another long day of work can feel impossible. Do something to make your mornings a little more enjoyable so they aren't just about getting ready for work. Wake up a little earlier and set aside time to eat breakfast, take a walk, read a book, or do some yoga. You can do whatever you want, and it doesn't have to be an extra hour — even an extra 20 minutes could make a difference.
If you feel like you have no one to talk to at work, that can really make burnout worse. If possible, try to get friendly with the people you see every day. Work can really become so much more enjoyable if you have friends there. They don't need to be your best friends, but having someone you can talk to and laugh with throughout the day will definitely make things more bearable.
Working out is a proven way to get rid of stress, anxiety, and general unhappiness. Exercise will make you feel more energetic and motivated — it can just make you feel a little more free. Find something you genuinely like to do so it doesn't feel like such a chore. Maybe some days, you need a relaxing yoga class, while other days you'd rather do something intense like cardio or kickboxing. If you can, take a walk or go for a run outside to get some fresh air for an extra boost of endorphins.
There's a reason breaks are mandatory for employees — sometimes you absolutely need them for the sake of your mental health. If you're feeling job burnout, start taking a small break at least once a day. If you get a lunch break, take it. Even if you just get 20 minutes, going for a walk, sitting somewhere that isn't your office, or even getting together with a friend can really make your entire day better.
Once upon a time, it was easy to leave your job at the end of the day, go home, and disconnect for a few hours. Today, with email notifications popping up on your cell phone, it's not so easy. It can be hard to just ignore things, but your time off should be your time. So, give yourself at least a half hour without technology each night. Put your phone away, keep the TV off, and hide your laptop. Having that time to recharge without staring at a screen is way better than it sounds.