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Burnout! A Dreaded Word

Charred matches, each one burn a little more than the last.
Concept of patience. A row of burnt matches, from left to right, from almost a whole match to a completely burnt match to the dust. White background, flat lay.

Burnout at work is bad on both sides, for the employee and for the employer. If you are an employee dealing with burnout in the workplace, you might be feeling unmotivated, overwhelmed, anxious or unhappy, just to name a few. In serious instances, this burnout can impact your health. For the employer, this translates to lack of productivity, lower employee morale and possible loss of employees. In general, burnout is a dreaded word for all.

But, something can be done, and done before it leads to the extremes for either party. Here are a few ways to deal with burnout in the workplace.

1.  Acknowledge the feelings.
Because of the negative association with burnout many go far too long before acknowledging the feelings, let alone talking about it. As with anything, acknowledgement is the first step to accomplishing a resolution. 

2. Determine the triggers for your burnout. 
Sometimes there is one or two big triggers, such as a big project or event. Likely though, it is a series of smaller things that lead up to it. Keep in mind that burnout is not only triggered by things in the workplace but also outside factors, such as family happenings and other things, play a big role.  Make a list of those triggers, as well.

3. Analyze if your burnout is situational or temporary. 
Again, based on the situation, the feeling of burnout could be short lived. If that is the case, you can still use some of these pointers to get through this period, but hopefully you can ride the wave of this point in time. Knowing that it is temporary can be enough to help you push through.

4.  Take your list of triggers and determine if YOU can influence change to make the situation better. 
Empowering yourself to develop resolutions is helpful — you are taking control of the situation. You’ll be surprised how much you can improve on your own when you look at it in this mindset.

5.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Lean on co-workers. My guess is they are more than happy to help. At home ask for help from your spouse, kids or hire outside help if necessary. Babysitters, cleaning services and mail order food providers can eliminate a lot of load.

6. Take a break, find balance.
Use your vacation, lunch breaks and sick time. These are there for a reason and meant to provide you a mental break. Go on a walk or to the gym over your lunch, read a book, run errands so you don’t need to do them later. There are so many ways to use that time for yourself. It is very easy to keep going and not take these breaks, but in the end, you will be a better, happier employee for doing so.

7.  Still feeling the strain?
Take that list of triggers and those that you perhaps can’t influence much and talk with your supervisor or manager. Share your concerns and ask for assistance. Go in with an open mind to brainstorm. Focus on healthy communication and give-take scenarios. Ask for help.

8.  Evaluate your options.
Hopefully the above gets you to a point of alleviating some of that burnt out feeling. But, if not, evaluate your options. Maybe it’s time to make an adjustment. This could be to your schedule. It could be to what activities you take on outside of work. It could be a new job opportunity. Evaluating doesn’t mean you have to act; it just gives you options. Weigh the pros and cons. Decide, work through it and make adjustments!

All jobs have their stress load and yes, you must deal with some of that. Don’t act rash and jump to a case of burnout right away. Coping is a skill we must deploy. Using some of these tips along the way, before you hit that burnout wall, can help you avoid it all together! We spend most of our time at our jobs (even more so with digital connections to our jobs 24/7); don’t spend that time feeling burnt out, not enjoying what you do. Do something about it!


About the Author

Erika Osmundson lives in Iowa with her husband and two kids. She’s been with for nearly 15 years and currently serves as director of marketing and communications. She writes and works on projects for all things career success. Look for more from Erika on Seed World PRO.