Happy hump day! Once we get through today, it’s all downhill from here. Wednesdays are the hardest day of the week for me– harder than Mondays. Because by Wednesday, I’m starting to feel a little worn out from work and I have to check myself before it turns into full blow burnout.
If you’ve ever dealt with burnout, you understand how miserable it can make you feel in all aspects of your life. Burnout can happen for many reasons, but some of the most common are: not working your ideal job, feeling overworked and underpaid, and having little to no support.
Burnout also leads to a lot of mental health concerns, like having low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. We talk about work-life balance, but the truth is, it’s hard to balance work and your personal life when you’re completely burnt out in your job.
Before taking my current job, I worked at a job with a high turnover rate. At first, I loved the position. I had a great relationship with my coworkers, I was doing work in my dream field, and I was able to set my own hours. It was everything I thought I wanted. But I was working in a very demanding field, and as a fresh counselor right out of school, I didn’t know how to handle burnout, let alone how to be proactive about it.
About six months into the job, it started to occur to me that there were more cons to the job than there were pros. The aspects to the job that I really liked at first started to become the reasons for my burnout. My coworkers were great, but I hardly ever got to see them. Yes, I set my own hours, but there were also many long hours and sleepless spent working on call in the ER. I didn’t know how to say “no” very well, so I often felt overworked.
And there I was: burnt out with no idea how to deal with it.
When you work in the mental health field, or any demanding field, burnout is a subject that is probably addressed in your workplace. Heck, we talked about it in school at length! But you may not recognize when it happens to you until you’re already in the throws of the stress and cynicism that burnout can cause.
You Might Have Burnout if:
- You find it hard to wake up in the morning/you wake up exhausted
- You’re constantly running late to work
- You find it hard to concentrate or have any semblance of productivity
- You complain about your job all the time
- Your outlook on life is generally negative
- You feel anxious or dreadful when thinking about your job
But knowing the signs of burnout does nothing if you don’t know how to fix it. Thankfully, there are many ways to address burnout.
How to Reduce Burnout
1. Start with the basics
Are you getting enough sleep? Do you regularly work through your lunch hour? Are you getting enough fresh air and exercise? It is amazing how much better you feel when your basic needs are met. In fact, one super famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, believed that you can’t be a “self-actualized” person if your basic needs aren’t being met. So this has to be your starting point. Period. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep. Eat a good breakfast. Take a hot shower, and tuck yourself into your warm cozy bed at night. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel right off the bat just from meeting your basic needs.Reduce burnout by starting with the basics. Eat well, exercise, and get enough rest. Click To Tweet
2. Take a good, hard look at your habits
Okay, it’s honesty hour. Raise your hand if your habits maaaaay have something to do with why you’re burning out at work?
Maybe you are answering e-mails after work hours? Staying late? Working overtime just because you didn’t get your work done in time? What changes do you need to make to your own habits and routine in order to lessen the burnout?
(Related reading: Develop a Time Management System to Rock your Work Week)
3. Practice good stress management skills
Learn how to practice self-care at work. Give yourself a time out and take some deep breaths, stretch, or practice mindfulness. When you get out of work, make sure you’re dedicating time at the end of the day to unwind. Take a walk around the block, take a shower with some lavender oil, or drink a cup of tea.
(Related reading: 8 Quick and Easy Self-Care Practices for Work)
4. Use your PTO
I can’t stress this one enough! If you get PTO through your employer, they want you to use it! Otherwise you wouldn’t get it. Vacations are a great way to recharge. In fact, not taking vacations actually can reduce your productivity at work. And don’t forget about sick days. If you’re sick, take the day off. We’ve all had a sick coworker before that we’ve had to avoid all day. Working while you’re sick not only makes you feel resentful, but also reduces your productivity and puts your coworkers at risk.Your employer wants to you take your PTO. Reduce burnout. Treat yo'self! Click To Tweet
Here comes the really embarrassing lesson I learned about using my sick time: One time at my old job, I was doing an intake session with a new patient. AKA this is the very first time I met this family and I showed up sick. To my credit, I had a cold come on maybe an hour before I was supposed to meet these people for the first time. Regardless. Here I am, asking them a bunch of questions when my nose decided to start running out of control and before I knew it, I was dripping all over their paperwork. SUPER disgusting and embarrassing, but let me tell you! I call in sick now!
4. Switch up your routine
If you’ve been working the same job for a long time, you may be facing sheer boredom. You could probably do your work with your eyes closed. You could do it in your sleep. What can you do to switch up your job and make it more exciting again? If you go about this the right way, it looks really good to your employer. Believe it or not, employers want to know when you’re burning out, because they want productive workers too. So explain to them that you’re looking for new responsibilities. Are there any roles they think you’d be great for?
With that being said, don’t take on more than you can handle. If you’re feeling overworked already, you certainly don’t want to add more responsibilities to your plate. What tasks can you delegate? Who can you turn to for help?
(Related reading: Work-Life Balance: Manage your Time, Improve Relationships, & Avoid Burnout)
5. Make friends
Having a good support network at your job can do wonders for burnout. Take the time to invest in your coworkers. Get to know them! Have lunch with them and vow to not discuss work for the entire hour. Choose to spend your time with positive people– people who aren’t already burnt out at work. Pick people who can encourage and lift you up. Spending time with your coworkers who are also burnt out can make the problem worse. In contrast, talking to those who enjoy the job (or are at least impartial to it) can do wonders for your morale.
Recovering from burnout isn’t easy. Once you’re burnt out, it sometimes feels like a losing battle. But it doesn’t have to be. What do you do to avoid or reduce burnout?