burnout at work

How to Prevent Burnout at Work

Although work is not the only cause for burnout, today we will be looking at how to prevent burnout at work and how to deal with it if you are suffering from this condition. In truth, many events and situations can lead to burnout, not only the workplace.

Other events and life situations that lead to burnout can be one or more of the following:

  • Constant abuse at home, within the family, or with so-called friends or even with co-volunteers in non-profit organizations
  • Constant bullying
  • Stressful situations that stretch on for long periods of time – Someone who commented on my previous post gave me a good example of this, the IVF (in vitro fertilization) process. Other examples can be animal rescue in which rescuers are exposed to cruelty, animal abuse, and death on a permanent basis.

how to prevent burnout at work

All of these factors may leave you feeling empty, emotionally and physically drained, and unable to cope with the constant demands of daily life.

In my next post I will address the above-mentioned causes, but today we will look at burnout at work.

What Exactly is Burnout?

In 1974, Herbert Freudenberger used this word for the first time in his book “The High Cost of High Achievement”. He defined burnout as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

In the work environment, burnout is a direct consequence of a high load of stress that stretches over a long period of time. It is characterized by the following three symptoms:

  1. Exhaustion: you feel exhausted all the time, emotionally as well as physically.
  2. Cynicism: you hate your job
  3. Feelings of reduced ability: you feel less capable at work, you feel as if you can’t do anything right.

stuck at a job you hate

Although burnout is extremely common nowadays and it is considered a mental health issue, it isn’t a psychological disorder that can be diagnosed. Perhaps that is the reason why it still isn’t taken seriously? Who knows …

Nevertheless, it should be taken seriously, very much so. In my opinion, burnout is the modern-day illness that many of us cope with, the majority undiagnosed and with no help. More support should be given to people who are suffering from burnout.

The Usual Misconception

confused

One common mistake is that burnout is confused with stress. As I mentioned in my previous articles, burnout is not stress that one cannot handle, but it is rather a result of stress. Bear in mind that a high stress job doesn’t necessarily have to lead to burnout. If stress is managed well, then there should be no negative consequences.

But how do you manage stress “well”? That is easier said than done, isn’t it? Before we go over ways to handle stress, let’s take a look at what causes stress at work.

Causes of Stress at Work

  • Unreasonable time pressure

pressure

Most of us can all relate, right? Not enough time to meet project deadlines, pressure to finish at the expected time … It can get to us. Employees who have no time pressure are less likely to experience burnout. Firefighters and paramedics are, understandably, at a higher risk. Imagine healthcare workers now during the covid pandemic, they are under an enormous amount of pressure.

  • Lack of communication or support from a manager

managerLack of communication is a problem and it can lead to stressful situations. Been there, done that. If you feel supported by your manager, it takes a load of stress of your back, but if there is no communication and hence no feeling of support, employees are more likely to experience burnout.

  • Lack of role clarity

This may sound strange, but many workers do not know what is expected of them. Sometimes, expectations change or are unclear, and it only confuses employees who do not know what the boss really wants them to do. They end up having to figure it out themselves, and this again leads to a feeling of not being supported. Those employees are also at risk of getting burnout.

  • Unfair treatment

Employees who feel that they are treated unfairly at the workplace are at a high risk of experiencing burnout. Unfair treatment could be favoritism, bullying, unfair compensations, harassment, and other mistreatments from co-workers.

Bullying is not restricted to school. It also happens at the office, factory, or any other workplace, and it does take its toll on the victim. If you experience any unfair treatment from a co-worker, you must report it at once and get it taken care of.

bullied

  • High workload

An unmanageable workload is a high cause for stress, for everyone. You quickly end up feeling overwhelmed, and that can also lead to burnout.

How do You Deal With All This?

First of all, it is important to have time for yourself. Regular exercise and getting enough sleep are at the top of the list. If you are not into exercise or you have no time to spend at the gym, then go for walks. Walking exercises the whole body and it also calms the mind.

A healthy diet is also a great help. If your body gets the right fuel, it will perform and heal better.

Make sure that you plan in frequent breaks at work. It is ideal if those could include a little walk outside or even a five-minute break on the company building’s terrace or courtyard. Regular breaks will provide you with those downtimes for yourself, preventing you from getting burnout.

walking

If you are suffering unfair treatment from a co-worker, even bullying, you must report this at once. Speak to your boss or to human resources, so that this situation can be solved. Suffering abuse at work is terrible and should be taken care of. Bullies must be dealt with.

bullA week away from work will not heal you from burnout. If it is possible for you, take a long vacation. That might help to recharge your batteries and find time for yourself and heal again.

If your job makes you unhappy, gives you impossible workloads and requirements, big consequences for failure, lack of recognition, bad communication, poor leadership, and unfair compensation, then it is time to make a drastic change and look for a better job.

If nothing will ever improve at your workplace, it doesn’t matter how much time of you take; coming back to work you may fall into the same trap again and suffer the same consequences. So, in that case, it is best to take the bull by the horns, say goodbye to all that, and find new employment.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this will help you if you are suffering burnout at work. Burnout is a serious condition and I really want to help other people to get through this. Not enough help is offered for this, which is the reason why I set up this website.

If you have any questions, please let me know, and I will be happy to help. In my next post I will address burnout that is caused by factors such as bullying and abuse at home and/or with loved ones.

26 thoughts on “How to Prevent Burnout at Work”

  1. This is a really great article and many people can relate to it I’m sure. I know I can.
    I don’t know if I’m feeling burnt out at my job necessarily, but I do know if I were staying I would be. I am a travel nurse. One of the reasons I do it is to avoid burnout. I can always tell when I’m ready to leave an assignment because things start to bother me more and more. The idiosyncrasies agitate me faster. I love knowing I’m leaving and will be leaving all those behind.
    You mention ways to deal with it are a healthy diet. That’s for sure, when you can eat. I start working at 6 a.m. and sometimes don’t get to sit and eat something until noon or 1 p.m. (hence why I’ll be happy to move on to my next assignment)
    This is a good article. Great advice.

    Reply
    • Hi Teresa,

      It gives you a certain amount of freedom, knowing that you can leave and move on to the next assignment. It must be hard, though, not to be able to eat until noon or 1 pm, I know it would be hard for me 😉 Perhaps you can keep some healthy snacks in your bag, to eat them during the morning when you feel hungry.
      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Hi
    Good website to help people here, I had a burnout one time in my life and it is not easy to recover of it. It took me more than 3 years and still I would not go back to that job were I was at that time. I change carrer and I’ve been better sencce then. Thank you for sharing this information.
    Lyne

    Reply
  3. Christine,

    I can SO relate to this topic! A few years ago, just after turning 50, I was on the brink of burnout when I pulled the brakes and said “enough!”

    You are right. Stress doesn’t have to cause burnout IF we manage it well. The thing is, most of us do not. We hide behind eating unhealthily and too much, drinking, becoming couch potatoes . . . the list goes on.

    Exercise and frequent breaks from the daily routine and demands does it for me. Thankfully, I have never burnt out and always managed to get back on track quickly.

    Thank you very much for this informative article. I will be following you for more inspiration.

    Cassandra

    Reply
  4. Thank you for addressing such an important topic. I feel like nowadays the common response to burnout is to just get over it or that you’re weak for experiencing it. This always just makes it worse. As a college student at an extremely intense university, burnout leads to awful mental health complications, and at least a few times a year for us, suicides. It’s truly horrifying stuff that isn’t addressed properly nearly as much as it should be.

    As an architecture student, I’m constantly under extremely tight deadlines with absurdly high expectations and perpetual fear of failure. Oftentimes my studio setting can turn into an extremely hostile and toxic environment around deadlines as people shooting cynical comments around the room and crying in bathrooms from breaking down under stress is just accepted as the norm. This is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable, but the School tends to see it as completely expected and does little about it. I’m not immune to this either and have had panic attacks in our building bathroom on countless occasions. The only difference is that I’ll tell it to whoever wants to know.

    It’s important that people experiencing burnout talk about it and get the help they need. I love the tips that you’ve outline here and will 100% be implementing them into my next semester of college as well as telling them to my peers so that we can hopefully get through these even more than usually stressful times relatively unscathed. Here’s to less bathroom breakdowns. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Maria,

      Universities do demand a lot from students and they do not take into account the emotional stress this is causing. I am horrified to read that it even leads to suicides a few times a year and nothing has been done about it . I remember from my time at university that my professors did not care about my living circumstances and time spent at my job, I had to deliver … It is very stressful and apparently a common attitude at universities. I understand …

      It is important to talk about this, and I know that the common response is to “just get over it” or that “others are also going through stuff”. Replies like that can be discouraging. That is why I created this website, to offer this help, or a listening ear. 

      I am glad that my article is offering you some help and that you’re sharing this with your peers. Feel free to check my previous articles too, there are some more tips there as well. 

      Reply
  5. Thanks for sharing the great content!
    I feel it really happen with me or most of the people. Now these days everyone will feel stress, just see how to release it. I will try a way out to deal with my stress after work! Really a inspiring content!

    Keep it up for more great content!

    Reply
    • Hi Samuel,

      Yes, nowadays, stress is so common at the workplace, causing burnout for many. It is important to find ways to deal with it. I’m glad that you find his article helpful!
      Thank you for commenting!

      Reply
  6. I can really connect with this site.

    Have you checked out some of the YouTube channels dealing with narcissism?

    These kinds of people are found everywhere and in the heat of the job, cutting through the fog of misinformation and lies can create a great deal of frustration and mistrust.

    I’ve fell victim to many different abuses at work. Some leading to unpaid hours and bounced paychecks. 

    Actually, my on line journey started on Christmas eve of 2015 when my paycheck bounced for the countless time.

    That was a horrible holiday season and I was already burned out from the physical work of building and installing kitchen cabinets.

    I really appreciate that you have the courage to speak about this. I do not have a personal physician or therapist, and trying to get out of overtime or less than acceptable conditions leads to a defense mechanism called bullying.

    If you ever need a ghost writer to write a story for your website, I would gladly write an article for you. It will help heal the wounds of the past.

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      Youtube must have so many channels of dealing with narcissism. I have not checked them out yet, but I will. 

      Abuses at work are, unfortunately, so common. I have seen them and also experienced them … And it isn’t easy to deal with them … 

      It must be horrible, getting a paycheck that bounces, and that right before the holiday season… I hope that that problem got sorted out. 

      If you like to share your story here on my site, you are welcome to do that. Writing about it can indeed help heal wounds from the past, it’s like therapy with the pen 🙂

      Reply
  7. Hi Christine,

    I know the feeling when I am stressed at work, and it would come to me & makes me become super passive about everything. My way to overcome this is to work out at gyms if I can spare one or two hours on the same day. If I can’t, I would choose to meditate in a quiet place that I can focus on my breath & talk to myself.

    If I cannot work out or meditate for some reason, I must sleep early and very well that night(close to hibernating) to get all the energy and good feeling back to my mind. Otherwise, I can’t handle the burnout situation.

    I am glad that I have a good boss that always communicates with me & my colleagues for things we have concerns about, no matter for work or our private lives. I am always grateful for this. So, if nothing improves for you, I do agree with you that to find a new job.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Matt

    Reply
    • Hi Matt,

      Working out at the gym does wonders. It is a great way to release stress from your body. You are indeed very lucky to have such a caring and understanding boss. Communication is important and it is wonderful that you and your boss have a good communication.
      Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  8. Thanks, Christine, for this awesome article!
    This comes at a great time for people to read. And not only because they’re overworked or overtired, but due to the stress of working from home during this COVID time.
    Though it works out fine for many people, there are certain jobs where this causes excess stress because they don’t have access to the things they need in the office.
    There’s also those of us who have always worked from home, yet that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are still timelines to meet and people to please. And when you work from home, it’s impossible to leave “work at work”. It ‘s always just a few steps away to your computer, lol.
    You’ve given some great advice here, thank you!
    Suzanne

    Reply
  9. I love your article. Most of the statement is so true in the real-life, especially for those who work in a big corporate company. I was there before, I understand the feeling of burnout. In my humble opinion, love what you do and do what you love is the best solution for avoiding burnout at work. And, I do agree with you that regular exercise and a healthy diet have an effect on our energy and work performance. Another way I always practice is to get up from my work chair every one hour I am working on my computer. This can be reminded by a smartwatch, it will alarm you every hour. 

    Reply
    • Hi Ethan,

      That’s a great suggestion, get up every hour from your desk and take a break, or a walk, anything to be away. I agree that it is also important to do what you love. So many are stuck in a job they hate …

      Thank you for your great comment!

      Reply
  10. Job is not the only reason for exhaustion, and today we will certainly be looking at exactly how to avoid fatigue at the job and also precisely how to deal with it if you are enduring from this problem. 

    In reality, numerous occasions and also circumstances can result in exhaustion, not just the office. Various other opportunities and also life scenarios that bring about fatigue can be several of the following: Consistent misuse in the house, within the household, or with supposed buddies and even with co-volunteers in charitable companies’ consistent intimidation. 

    Demanding scenarios that extend on for extended periods– Somebody that discussed my previous article offered me an excellent example of this, the IVF (artificial insemination fertilizing) procedure. 

    Various other instances can be an animal rescue in which rescuers revealed to ruthlessness, pet misuse, as well as a fatality on an irreversible basis.

    Reply
  11. This post was written for me! 

    Thanks for highlighting how stress can lead to burnout. I saw it not just in myself but also my team and it really is so important to normalise nurturing behaviours and strategies such as meditation, diet and exercise as well as developing boundaries and an openness to changing our working conditions. 

    Great article, thanks again. I hope you’re doing well now. 

    Reply
    • Hi Emma,

      I’m so happy that this was helpful to you! Yes, I’m doing well. Thank you 🙂

      Setting boundaries at work and being open to change working conditions is definitely a great help. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  12. You did a great job ! I believe that this is the information that can’t be find on the web easily and you decided to share it with others for free, that’s really great!
    I didn’t know much about preventing burnout at work but I’ve been always interested to know more about this topic and your comprehensive guide helped me a lot. I don’t know if you wrote this post 100% by yourself or got help from other sources as well, anyway, it has really brilliant information which convinced me to share it with my friends on social networks.

    I think, the Internet needs more quality posts like yours these days, especially when we see a lot of crappy ads and scams about this topic. You can’t read a post easily on a website without seeing tons popups but your site and post is an ideal example of a quality article which is not covered by annoying ads, has very useful information and lets readers enjoy reading every piece of it.

    Thank you again and I wish you continue providing such that quality information in the future which turn the Internet and blogs into a better place to surf!

    Best,
    Ali

    Reply
    • Hi Ali,

      Thank you very much! I appreciate your comments! For this post I did some research, but it is also based on my personal experiences, since I went through burnout from 2016 to 2018 and I learned a lot from that time, about symptoms, people’s reactions, roadblocks to healing, methods to heal, and so on. During that time my only goal was to heal and not remain in that state, so today I am using what I learned back then to help people who are suffering burnout.

      Reply
  13. Hi Christine, 

    This is a great article and discussion about the topic everyone can relate to. Everyone in this world was at least one in the situation under the pressure at work, whether the pressure was given by themselves or their bosses and colleagues. 

    I felt the consequences of burnout so many times. And honestly, I would like to testify that they are much worse when given by others than when I burned myself out in a desire for success. 

    Working for the cruise line over the years I had so many managers. Almost (80%) of the time I was under a gross amount of pressure. I would lose my desire to stay at work but anyways would find a way to deliver good results, but the consequences of the burn out were present (my health, mental health, and smile were under a question) 

    For the last 2 years, I’ve been in a relationship with the best office in the world 🙂 And they never gave me a pressure causing a burnout. In fact, they would warn me not to let myself get into it because of my exceeded desire to succeed. But here I still had their support and all the love and compassion. 

    Over the time I learned how to protect myself from myself as well 🙂 

    Thanks again for a great topic, 
    Sunny

    Reply
    • Hi Sunny,

      I am glad that you are now in a much better work environment. I like what you say, “protect yourself from yourself as well”. We do place such high expctations on ourselves at times, causing unnecessary stress. It is important to make time for ourselves and put ourselves first.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Reply

Leave a Comment

error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)