Imagine starting out in the career of your dreams and finding out that your current job is overwhelming and unsustainable. You’ve went to college or had some training to excel in your chosen field. You are excited. You work hard and stay up later to achieve more than your peers and colleagues. People compliment you, look up to you, and they may even wish that they were you. You silently take the compliments but you’re thinking, if only they knew how tired and sometimes exhausted you’ve been lately. You’ve lost the motivation to do what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. How could this be? If this sounds like you then you may be on the verge of job burnout.

What is burnout?

Job burnout is a type of persistent stress directly tied to your job. Burnout can creep up on you and take a toll on you physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Behaviors that are consistent with burnout include:

  • Decreased motivation and productivity

  • Isolation and irritability with friends and family

  • Changes in sleep pattern

  • Loss of interest in work related activities

  • Increased cynicism

While these signs are true for impending burnout, you should always follow up with your personal healthcare provider to rule out any health concerns.

How do people become burned out in the first place?
I have listed a few factors that play into burnout.

Ineffective leadership. Ineffective bosses fail to provide clear direction, or constructive feedback. They may also be resistant to suggestions for personal improvement. These behaviors can lead to persistent stress for the people that they supervise.

Monotony and no room for growth. Initially things may have been exciting as you learned your job. If you do the same thing, day in and day out with no chance to grow, you may notice that you are starting to crave something new and exciting. You may find yourself becoming bored. You may feel like you need to leave that job in order to grow to your maximum potential.

Overwork. Being overworked can lead to physical exhaustion, feelings of loss of control, or feeling like your opinion does not matter. When ineffective leaders are approached with concerns, they may ignore them or blame you for not being able to handle the workload.

There are things you can do to counteract impending burnout.

1.Identify a support group or a supportive friend to listen.

If you don’t have a support group, the bright side of this is you will have an opportunity to identify and teach your friend how to show up for you. For instance, you may want to call and vent about some issues at work and may not necessarily want feedback. You also know that it’s not good to dwell on the negative aspects of a situation for too long.

You can teach your friend your behavioral tendencies and allow them to share new observations in a supportive, nonjudgmental manner.

An example for such dialogue could be,

“Hey Mary, I’ve been dealing with some issues related to work and I really need someone to talk to. Things are stressful for me and I would like it if you could listen to me every once in a while. As you may know, I respond best to thoughtful questions as opposed to a lot of advice giving. Also, if I continue to verbalize the same negative work situation, please remind me that I can reframe that situation to find the positive components.

I may have blinders on and may not always see how I can make a positive shift in my thinking. Please tell me if you have noticed something and would like to share.”

This can create a closer bond between you and your friend. Hopefully a situation you can reflect back on with a light heart.

2. Increase or restart socializing with friends.

Sometimes it’s hard for your friends to completely understand how things are for you at work. They should not be blamed or shamed for lack of insight.

Try to spend more time with them. Focus on your relationship and how it makes you feel to be with people that love and support you.

3. Reframe your thinking and focus on what is important to you.

The same issues that cause stress and burnout for one person may not cause it for another. Finding the good in what you do may seem like an impossible task. It will be worth it to think positively as you recover.

Make a list of things that are important to you. Do something daily (no matter how small) to reach that goal. Make sure to find time to do activities that are meaningful to you outside of work.

4. Get plenty of sleep.

Sleep is the foundation of wellness. It improves mental clarity, energy, and mood. Many have trained themselves to get less sleep but we cannot be trained to require fewer hours of restful sleep. If getting more sleep is new to you or your sleep habits have been altered, it may take some time to sort out your sleep regimen.

It will take more than a night or two to get back on a good sleep regimen. Stick with it. A good place to start is decreasing screen time as a way to wind down and to go to bed at the same time every night.

5. Prioritize your time and protect your environment.

Creating barriers and boundaries around your personal time are going to be essential for you to start feeling better. There are situations that you can control.

If you don’t have to take work home, leave it at work. Take a break from people that bring your energy down. Create some downtime to recharge. Avoid negative people and experiences as much as possible.

The impending signs of job burnout are sneaky and may catch you off guard. It will take some time to successfully reverse the feelings of overwhelm, stress, and burnout. 

 You have done so much to get where you are in your career. With a solid plan of action you can reverse impending burnout. You deserve to work for an organization that suits your needs and values. 

Even if it means searching for a better fit…

– this story is also published at