Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing for too long. Maybe you’re in the wrong type of role. Maybe you’re working for the wrong company. Whatever the reason, if you dread going to work almost every day, if you feel your work is meaningless, if you feel stressed every Monday through Friday, you probably have career burnout. How can you know for sure—and more importantly, how can you get rid of it?
Burnout means being physically and emotionally exhausted, on an ongoing basis. We all feel like that sometimes, but if you feel the following often, it’s time to make some changes:
- every day at work is a bad day
- exhausted most of the time
- no joy or interest in your work, depressed by your work
- overwhelmed by your responsibilities
- less patience with others than you used to.
Especially if you also engage in escapist behaviors, like excess drinking or taking drugs, or experience physical symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, sleeplessness, or heart palpitations, burnout is a serious problem.
What you need to know: burnout will not go away on its own. It will even get worse unless you identify and solve the underlying issues causing it. Don’t delay!
Bouncing Back from Burnout
The first thing to do is analyze any negative feelings that you have about your job or your career path. What’s really bothering you? Once you've identified the root of it, write down at least one way that you can handle or eliminate that source of stress or unhappiness. This might involve delegating, working from home one or two days a week, or asking to be transferred to a different department.
If you can’t leave or change your job, you’ll have to focus on the one thing you can change: yourself.
If you're experiencing burnout, your body needs attention. Burnout has an adverse effect on your health. So start by making sure you’re getting exercise, even if it’s just a daily walk around the block; getting enough sleep; and making an effort to eat well. These tips might seem obvious or cliched, but overworked people often ignore their most basic needs, and doing so can contribute to worse burnout.
If you can, take a vacation. It will give you distance from work, help you relax and rest, and hopefully give you a clear head so you can decide what to do next. You may need to assess your personal goals and your values, and figure out if your current job or career align with both or either. If not, it may be time to have a chat with your boss, your manager, or a higher-up about how you can turn your job into a source of satisfaction, not stress.