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Does someone you know talk constantly about being mentally overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted by their job? Or maybe you are the one feeling trapped on your drive to work, and it feels like every spark of excitement your job once created is gone.
Burnout is a feeling of exhaustion, frustration or being overwhelmed that happens when stress and toxicity build up over time. It’s when we put so much effort into taking care of everything—without rest, recognition or results—that we drain ourselves of energy and sap our emotional and physical wellness.
Gallup did a study of almost 7,500 full-time employees. In it, they found about two-thirds had experienced burnout at work.1 So, how do people get burned out?
5 Causes of Burnout at Work
No Passion for Your Work
When your job doesn’t matter to you, you begin to believe your work doesn’t matter. Then, you start believing you don’t matter.
Being around poor leadership, gossiping coworkers or teammates who don’t trust one another is draining. No matter how hard you try to have a good attitude, that kind of day after day negativity will crush your spirit.
Maybe you like your line of work, but you feel like you’ve hit a wall because you’re doing the same tasks day in and day out. When you’re not challenged at work, motivation evaporates.
You might be feeling the effects of burnout because you’re overworked. Staying late each night, and wrecking your work-life balance is enough to make anyone’s health suffer.
Everyone needs to feel appreciated. That doesn’t mean you need constant awards, applause and pats on the back. But if you’ve gone months, or even years, without having your hard work recognized, that starts to hurt.
Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout doesn’t look the same for everyone. Some people experience more mental and emotional symptoms of burnout. Others have a more physical reaction with their stress and exhaustion. Here are a few signs to look for:
- Lack of productivity
- Irritability or impatience
- No motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling disconnected
- Overreacting to minor things
- Zoning out
- Stomach issues
- Disrupted sleep or insomnia
- Low energy and fatigue
- Body aches
- Getting sick more than usual
- Feeling jumpy or sluggish
Remember, too, there could be other things going on that contribute to these symptoms. Talk with a trusted doctor, counselor or pastor for more guidance.
How to Recover from Burnout
If you’re truly burned out, your body and spirit will need time to heal. You can’t expect a weekend getaway or a good night’s sleep to fix problems that have been around for months or longer. Recovering from burnout is a process that requires effort, time and maybe more than one approach. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Rediscover Your Why
Understanding your why means getting clarity on your purpose at work. This is important because when you don’t know why you do something, it’s hard to push through when things get hard. To rediscover your why (or discover it for the first time), ask yourself questions like:
- Do I enjoy the work I do?
- Do I connect with the results my work produces?
- Am I tapping into what I do best (my talents) and what I love to do most (my passions)?
Talk with your leader before making any major changes. If you have too much on your plate, ask your leader to help you prioritize and set boundaries. If people around you are gossiping or stabbing each other in the back, bring it to your leader.
Change Your Perspective
Sometimes you just need to adjust your attitude, and see your job in a new light. There may be times you need to stay in a job you don’t love longer than you want, because you’re hunting for a better opportunity. In that case, your current job is funding your future.
Change Your Role
Maybe you love the company you work for, but there’s a different role that better suits your skills and passions. If there are any open internal positions you’re interested in, and know you’d be a great fit for, talk with your leader about making a transition.
Focus on Wellness
You have to care for your body and spirit if you want to heal from burnout, but you don’t need to do a complete health overhaul to start feeling better. Take tiny steps each day to get your wellness on track:
- Get to bed a few minutes earlier.
- Eat healthy meals, or at least get an extra serving of fruit and vegetables.
- Add daily movement, like walking, stretching or yoga to help relieve stress.
- Spend a few minutes soaking up sunshine, or laughing with a friend.
- Pray, meditate or journal to get your thoughts out of your head.
Change Your Location
If you can’t do what you love in your own town, it might be time to consider relocating. Before you make a bold move, I want you to have a new job on the table or three to six months of living expenses saved to keep you afloat while you job hunt.
When you’re feeling burned out and at the end of your rope, there’s still hope for you to turn things around. You might need to make some tough decisions and shift priorities to make it happen, but you can bring balance, purpose and wellness back to your life!