How To Avoid/Navigate Burnout

Luna Schrøder
Luna Schrøder

How To Avoid A Burnout.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is the state of mind that comes with long-term, unresolved prolonged stress that can negatively affect your work and your life. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Why Burnout, Why Now?

Burnout is something a lot of people seem to experience.
In the past years, burnout has had a bigger and more intense effect on the workplace and the people in it. before, burnout was more known by CEOs and the board, but these days younger people are feeling it even more. Millennials are the generation most affected by burnout.
60% of 18-24-year olds and 41% of 25-34-year olds reported the pressure to succeed as a stressor, compared to just 6% of people aged 55+.” it's insane to think how it is these days, the pressure that young people feel through social media to reach a goal that is not even obtained by most people. These stressful scenarios are only exacerbated by the social aspect of the millennial workforce who are constantly reminded of how everyone around them is doing through the often-rose-tinted lens of social media. Society has made it so that more people feel they have to have a high success rate at a young age for them to fit into society.

The pressure young people feel to succeed shouldn’t be underestimated. It can come internally or from external sources like family expectations, seeing friends climbing the career ladder, or media headlines proclaiming, ‘You should be earning X amount by age X’.

The Difference Between Stress And Burnout

Burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and mentally. However, stressed people can still imagine that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.
Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress feels like you’re drowning in responsibilities, burnout is a sense of being all dried up. And while you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.

Do I Relate To This Feeling?

Mundane tasks have become the thing that gets cast to the side more often than they should, feeling the need to just focus on the work at hand and not having the motivation to do anything but stay active at work, but not having the will or energy for anything else (aka mundane tasks)

Why can’t I get this mundane stuff done? Because I’m burned out. Why am I burned out? Because I’ve internalized the idea that I should be working all the time. Why have I internalized that idea? Because everything and everyone in my life has reinforced it — explicitly and implicitly — since I was young. Life has always been hard, but many millennials are unequipped to deal with the particular ways in which it’s become hard for us. - Anne Helen Petersen BuzzFeed News Reporter

Stages Of Burnout

When we undertake a new task, we often start by experiencing high job satisfaction, commitment, energy, and creativity. This is especially true of a new job role, or the beginnings of a business venture.

Common symptoms include:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Readily accepting responsibility
  • Sustained energy levels
  • Unbridled optimism
  • Commitment to the job at hand
  • The compulsion to prove oneself
  • Free-flowing creativity
  • High productivity levels

The second stage of burnout begins with an awareness of some days being more difficult than others. You may find your optimism waning, as well as notice common stress symptoms affecting you physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Avoidance of decision making
  • Change in appetite or diet
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • The general neglect of personal needs
  • Grinding your teeth at night
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Inability to focus
  • Irritability
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Lack of sleep or reduced sleep quality
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lower productivity
  • Unusual heart rhythms

The third stage of burnout is chronic stress. This is a marked change in your stress levels, going from motivation to experiencing stress on an incredibly frequent basis. You may also experience more intense symptoms than those of stage two.

Common symptoms include:

  • Lack of hobbies
  • Missed work deadlines and/or targets
  • Persistent tiredness in the mornings
  • Physical illness
  • Procrastination at work and home
  • Repeated lateness for work
  • Resentfulness
  • Social withdrawal from friends and/or family
  • Uptake of escapist activities
  • Anger or aggressive behavior
  • Apathy
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Cynical attitude
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Denial of problems at work or at home
  • Feeling threatened or panicked
  • Feeling pressured or out of control
  • Increased alcohol/drug consumption
  • Increased caffeine consumption

Entering stage four is burnout itself, where symptoms become critical. Continuing as normal is often not possible in this state as it becomes increasingly difficult to cope. We all have our own unique limits of tolerance, and it’s key that you seek intervention at this stage (for clinical issues, please refer to our partner Thrive Your Life).

Common symptoms include:

  • Development of an escapist mentality
  • Feeling empty inside
  • Obsession over problems at work or in life
  • A pessimistic outlook on work and life
  • Physical symptoms intensify and/or increase
  • Self-doubt
  • Social isolation
  • Behavioural changes
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic stomach or bowel problems
  • Complete neglect of personal needs
  • Continuation or increase in escapist activities
  • Desire to "drop out" of society
  • Desire to move away from work or friends/family

The final stage of burnout is habitual burnout. This means that the symptoms of burnout are so embedded in your life that you are likely to experience a significant ongoing mental, physical or emotional problem, as opposed to occasionally experiencing stress or burnout.

Common symptoms include:

  • Chronic sadness
  • Depression
  • Burnout syndrome
  • Chronic mental fatigue
  • Chronic physical fatigue

How To Avoid/Get Rid Of Burnout?

Build your mental resilience. trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage. Now is the time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself overcome burnout and feel healthy and positive again.

Turn to others for help! People that are in your life want you to share your struggles and they want to help!

  • Reach out to those closest to you, such as your partner, family, and friends. Opening up won’t make you a burden to others. In fact, most friends and loved ones will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your friendship. Try not to think about what’s burning you out and make the time you spend with loved ones positive and enjoyable.

  • Be more sociable with your coworkers. Developing friendships with people you work with can help buffer you from job burnout. When you take a break, for example, instead of directing your attention to your smartphone, try engaging your colleagues. Or schedule social events together after work.
    Limit your contact with negative people. Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you spend together or get another job.

  • Connect with a cause or a community group that is personally meaningful to you. Joining a religious, social, or support group can give you a place to talk to like-minded people about how to deal with daily stress—and to make new friends. If your line of work has a professional association, you can attend meetings and interact with others coping with the same workplace demands.
    Find new friends. If you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and expand your social network.

Whether you have a job that leaves you rushed off your feet or one that is monotonous and unfulfilling, the most effective way to combat job burnout is to quit and find a job you love instead. Of course, for many of us changing jobs or career is far from being a practical solution, we’re grateful just to have work that pays the bills. But being able to enjoy and be proud of your work is important for a healthy mindset. Whatever your situation, though, there are still steps you can take to improve your state of mind.

  • Try to find some value in your work. Even in some mundane jobs, you can often focus on how your role helps others, for example, or provides a much-needed product or service. Focus on aspects of the job that you do enjoy, even if it’s just chatting with your coworkers at lunch. Changing your attitude toward your job can help you regain a sense of purpose and control.

  • Find balance in your life. look for meaning and satisfaction in your life: in your family, friends, hobbies, or voluntary work. Focus on the parts of your life that bring you joy.

  • Make friends at work. Having strong ties in the workplace can help reduce monotony and counter the effects of burnout. Having friends to chat and joke with during the day can help relieve stress from an unfulfilling or demanding job, improve your job performance, or simply get you through a rough day.

  • Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave of absence, anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue other methods of recovery.

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