Career Tips

Recognizing Burnout at Work and How to Fix It

Date Posted: 09/17/2015

Research shows that a little on-the-job stress is good for you but what’s not healthy is when stress turns into burnout.  Most demanding non-repetitive jobs guarantee some stress and it’s natural for energy levels to fluctuate from day to day.  However, complete work burnout affects your total well-being, career and even personal health and relationships.

Work burnout is defined as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. This exhaustion of energy can bring a feeling of emptiness, hopelessness, helplessness and a sense that nothing is going to work out.  Burnout can sometimes lead to serious health risks such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and accelerated aging.

According to the American Psychological Association, work burnout is “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in job performance.”

Burnout does not happen overnight.  It creeps in slowly over time and is hard to recognize.  It is, however, not insolvable and without hope of solution.  First of all, you need to recognize the symptoms then identify the causes and remedy the situation at an early stage.

Here are some signs to show that you are burnout:

·     Dread going to work

·     Chronic exhaustion

·     Depression

·     Apathy

·     Anxiety

·     Hopelessness

·     Insomnia

·     Resentment

·     Irritability

·     Boredom

·     Disillusionment

·     Disgruntled

·     Doubting oneself

·     Feeling overwhelmed

·     Overly Cynical

·     Difficulty concentrating

·     Procrastination

·     Poor performance at work

·     Conflicts with colleagues or supervisors

·     Deteriorating health

·     Reliance on drugs or alcohol


If you say yes to some of the signs above, it’s time to step back and start making changes.  Try some of the following:

Trim down your to-do list
No matter how good you are at multi-tasking, you will find yourself overwhelmed with less important tasks.  Prioritize the things that are most important.  If there are things you absolutely must handle, do make sure you take care of them first.  The things that are not that important might be delegated to someone else or tackled later.  Don’t try and finish everything today!

Set boundaries
Set an end to your workday and work to achieve the goals you set for the day so that you can leave at a specific time and feel good about ending your workday.

Get organized
When you have order in your day, you feel more in control of how it turns out.  Plan and direct a complex undertaking by systematic planning so that it can be undertaken as a united effort.  Bring order, organization and structure to your work so you operate according to some principle or idea.

Take Breaks
Efficiency is greatly enhanced by taking breaks during your workday as much as two brief breaks per day where you don’t think about the problem to be tackled.  Empty your mind so when you return to work, you can think more clearly and creatively.

Relax by meditating, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk, etc.  The motivating power behind your work should be enjoyment rather than wanting.

Exercise has a strong correlational relationship with stress.  Proper exercise of even 30 minutes a day has been proven to reduce stress.  It also releases endorphins which help improve mood and general wellbeing.  Exercise also keeps your brain stimulated, your heart and lungs in good order and is one of the best medicines you can take.

Green Spaces
Studies have shown that people who spend more time in “green spaces” such as parks and gardens had relatively lower levels of stress hormone.

Take vacations
Taking vacations and spending some valuable time with friends and family is a good way to reduce stress and burnout.  Beneficial effects of vacationing last up to five weeks after returning to work.

Get enough sleep
In order to recover from continuing stress and burnout, eliminate or reduce the demands on your body and mind and replenish your resources with proper sleep.  Sleep of six to eight hours per day is most important in replenishing your body’s and mind’s resources. Poor sleep can have a negative effect on job performance and productivity. Sleep can also improve memory and recharge your physical energy.

If you are not encountering any of these problems, congratulations!  However, you should keep these warning signs in mind as burnout happens over an extended period of time and can creep up on you as you’re living your busy life.

If you are already experiencing some of the signs above, take this as a wake-up call that you may be on a dangerous path. Try to honestly evaluate the amount of stress in your work life and look into addressing the problems before it is too late.

©2015 Ikon Solutions Asia, Inc.

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