Burnout is a term that gets tossed around often in the workplace, but it’s more than simply feeling tired or overworked. It’s a continual sense of pessimism about your present and future that can lead to a decline in your work performance. In a recent survey of U.S. adults who experience symptoms of stress and burnout, 25 percent said they feel run down and drained of physical and emotional energy. Twenty-six percent said they feel they are still achieving less than they should.

Even the most driven people are susceptible to this sense of negative exhaustion. Because when you don’t take the time for self-care and evaluating your priorities, burnout is almost inevitable.

Warning Signs You’re Headed Towards Burnout

Some common signs of burnout might include:

  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions at work
  • Experiencing relationship problems at home because of work negativity
  • Dreading the end of a vacation
  • Talking negatively about your work performance
  • Avoiding or complaining about interactions with coworkers
  • Experiencing chronic stress and potential health issues
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How to Avoid Burnout

The best way to deal with burnout is to take evasive maneuvers before you even begin to become overly negative. That doesn’t imply, however, that you can’t make simple, immediate changes to your life if you’re already throwing your hands up in the air at work. Let’s take a look at a few.

Take a Break

Everyone needs to take a step back and evaluate your progress and also clear your mind of catastrophic or irrational thoughts. This could mean taking small breaks throughout the day to stretch, chat with positive people, and take some deep breaths. Breaks are also great for pondering how you’d like to spend your time the rest of the day or week. Try not to focus on the number of hours you’re working, but whether you’re using that time to accomplish what’s most important, instead of checking your email or getting dragged down by other people’s negative talk.

Reward Yourself

Many people only dream about vacations or speculate about time off without setting them in stone. If you’re financially able to do so, make the commitment to making your reservations and buying tickets. If you can’t swing a long vacation, consider taking a mental health day or a “staycation” with your family where you choose not to focus on work. Also, consider giving yourself weekly “rewards” that can keep you motivated. Schedule a happy hour or coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Plan a bike ride or a short hike to clear your brain. When you have something to look forward to at the end of the day, you’re more likely to stay focused on a task and get out of the office on time.

Unplug Yourself

Technology and smart phones create the illusion that we need to be available 24-hours a day. The reality is, however, is that most of us don’t need to check our email every hour when we’re out of the office. Unplugging is about teaching yourself when to focus and when to relax. It also helps you sleep better and appreciate leisure time when you have it. So try turning off notifications when you can and shutting off screens at least an hour before bed. If possible, set certain times for checking your email so you won’t fall into multitasking mode that makes it difficult to concentrate at work.

Focus on What’s Controllable

If you’re experiencing many doomsday thoughts about your work, then it might be time to sit down and make a list of what you don’t like or what is discouraging to you. Circle the items that you have a fair amount of control over. Would you like to have a more flexible schedule? Collaborate more with your colleagues? Set aside time for brainstorming or giving that new project a try? Focusing on what you can change about your work and the environment can give you that needed boost of energy and remind you about what drew you to the job in the first place.

Engage Other Interests

Being a career-driven individual is wonderful, but so is engaging your passions outside of the workplace. Having hobbies that aren’t based on performance or competition can help you unwind and get excited about the simple things in life. They can also help you expand your social network outside of the office and encourage you to live a healthier, fuller life. What would you do if you weren’t focused on recognition or money? Pursue that in your leisure time, and see what a difference it can make in the quality of your work life.

Above all, fighting any kind of negativity or exhaustion, including workplace burnout, is about taking care of your mind and body. If you’re not getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly, then you should expect to be susceptible to burnout. Consider how mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques, and maybe even seeing a mental health professional can help you get the focus back on your personal wellness. If you lack the time or resources, why not try using one of the top 25 mental health apps? Mental health apps offer a multitude of resources from free meditation guides to thought journals, and can even put you in direct contact with a therapist. By prioritizing your own health, you are only bolstering your potential in your career and beyond. Don’t see self-care as slacking off; think of it as an investment in your future.

Last Updated: Feb 24, 2018