If you haven’t felt some form of emotional fatigue in the past year, you, my friend, are a unicorn. Feeling run down by the weight of the world is nothing new, but the last few years took those feelings and cranked them up to 11.
Burnout is a completely normal feeling that we’ve all experienced. Though the events leading up to burnout generally are not, the feeling itself is healthy; it’s one of the ways your brain tells you it’s time to take a break. When the Burnout Beast rears its ugly head, it’s important to deal with those feelings in healthy and productive ways. Here are 4 tips for picking yourself up when you find yourself in a burnout rut.
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Before we get into the tips, it’s important to remind you that your professional career is only one aspect of who you are. This is important to mention because feeling burned out at work doesn’t have to be triggered by something work-related. Think about it like this: if you are feeling pressure from your boss about a project or upcoming deadline, you’d carry that with you into the weekend, so why wouldn’t the opposite be true?
In the context of the professional world, this is why the waters are so muddy. There’s no protocol on how employers should handle burnout and emotional/mental fatigue --or if it’s even their place to do something about it.
Of course, no one expects our bosses to be our therapists, but mental health plays a big role in how productive you are and your attitude. Mental health impacts things like company culture and employee morale. Throw in the social isolation of remote work and America’s glorification of unhealthy work practices, and you have yourself a perfect storm for burnout. Though employers might not be at fault, it is a problem they most certainly are accountable for –assuming they're invested in their employees' successes.
1. Identify your Warning Signs
Identifying burnout can be hard to do, especially if your burnout is caused by workload volume or being understaffed. You might have your nose so close to the grindstone, you can’t see when you (or your colleagues) are throwing up red flags that it’s time to take a break.
Though everyone is different, common early warning signs are feeling mentally/physically exhausted, unmotivated, or procrastinating more than usual.
Regardless of what your warning signs are, it’s important to know them and be honest with how you’re feeling. Let your supervisor know what your warning signs are, too. 99% of the time, they will be in a better position to see these red flags before you—and they’re also the ones who are in a position to change up your workload/processes if they see you’re close to red-lining.
There is more truth than you may realize to the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty glass”, so give yourself time to rest and recharge.
2. Communication 🗣
While burnout can take many different forms, one of these three things is usually the cause:
- Too heavy a workload
- Unclear communication
- Lack of training
All of which lead to poor(er) work performance. If you find yourself feeling confused or overwhelmed at work, communicate this to a supervisor. They can’t help you solve a problem if they are not aware there is a problem.
If you can communicate concerns or questions to your supervisor –whether it is needing additional direction, assistance on difficult tasks or even talking about workload –having that conversation can help them understand how you work, and equip them to support you more effectively.
Part of stopping the vicious cycle of burnout negativity is being self-aware. If you’re having these feelings of fatigue, see if you can identify why you are feeling this way.
Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- When I think about what is causing me to be overwhelmed, is there a pattern?
- What is the source of my lack of passion/enthusiasm?
- Is the current work culture hurting my productivity? If so, what can I do to change it?
Though none of these questions will immediately stop the feeling of burnout, they do provide insight that can put you on the path to find tangible, productive solutions to the cause of your burnout. Do you simply need to touch base with a supervisor or colleague about the way you’re feeling, or is a more dramatic change in order like a different work environment, or career change?
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4. Give Back Time to Yourself
Mental health is and will always be important. Sometimes the best thing you can do for burnout is to take time for yourself. There is more truth than you may realize to the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty glass”, so give yourself time to rest and recharge.
Take a PTO day. Put the phone down. Get outside. Get a massage. Spend time with family. However you press the reset button, do it. Just make sure you’re making yourself the priority. If you work for a boss who wants to bring out the best in you/your team, they understand how important recharging is, so asking for time off shouldn’t be an issue; it benefits them/ the team in the long run.