Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. It is understood to be bad, but is an accepted part of work culture. We joke about it at the water cooler, complain about it to our spouses and wear it as a badge of honor as proof that we have done our jobs well. In fact, in college, professors often expressed that doing the 9-5 is the bare minimum and only those who put in the extra hours earn the promotions, raises and a picture of their face on the employee of the month plaque. Contrary to what we are taught, burnout does not have to be a part of your career story. When you know the signs, you can prevent burnout before it gets to a point of depression. Below are 6 hidden signs of burnout that you should not ignore. Then I’ll share how to cure burnout.
- You used to like your job but you don’t anymore.
- You find it hard to get out of bed in the mornings.
- You stopped doing things you enjoy because you’re working all the time.
- You constantly feel unappreciated and undervalued at work.
- You are constantly complaining about work.
- You’re always tired.
Now that we know the signs, let’s discuss how to cure burnout. There are several ways that are inexpensive but very effective:
Take That PTO
Paid time off (PTO) is time you’ve earned for working for the company. You EARNED it and you should USE it. Spending time away from the office can help you put things in perspective. Change your environment and adapt a relaxing routine on your vacation. Focus on spending time with your family and loved ones and avoid any topics of work for that week. Here’s a great blog on how you can save money while enjoying that well needed vacation [How To Save Money On Your Next Vacation]!
Have A Conversation With Your Boss
Remember what motivated you to apply for the job in the first place? Think about what excited you to come into work each day and perform your best. Once you have that down, have a conversation with you boss about how you can get on a project that aligns with your passion or what excites you. Do you want to learn a new skill set? Perform more coaching? Assume more responsibilities that align with your career goals? Or maybe just added flexibility that would allow you to spend more time being a wife and a mother? Whatever it is, speak with your boss. Remember, a closed mouth does not get fed.
Learn To Say No
The reason you’re experiencing burnout could be you don’t know when to say no. As you advance in your career, you’ll have to learn when it is in your best interest to say no. Taking on more tasks that leads to frequent overtime and causes missed deadlines will eventually reflect poorly on you. Not only that, it will take time away from your primary responsibilities at work and at home. So, if you want to be a reliable and dependable team player, sometimes it is best to just say no. Of course, this will require some strategy. If a partner asks for help vs a fellow associate, it would be in your best interest to help the partner of the company. Learning to say no is a good way to cure burnout.
Join A New Team
A key sign of burnout is you’re no longer motivated nor positively challenged by the work that you do. Maybe it’s time for you to join a new team whose responsibilities better align with your needs. I’ve seen many of my colleagues who were miserable in their role transfer to other departments, like HR, Underwriting and IT. After the transfer, they began to excel on their new team and so did their careers. If you work for a large company that offers this kind of opportunity, explore it. Let your boss know of your ambition or look for open positions on a team that you want to work with.
Quit Your Job
If you’ve tried all the above to cure your burnout and have no success, it’s time to leave the company. Your mental health and wellbeing should be your primary concern and this break may be necessary. A bit of advice though, leave on good terms. You never know when you’ll need a recommendation/reference for the next role you accept.
My worst burnout was at the height of the pandemic in the fall of 2020. It is not something that should be taken lightly or brushed off as ‘part of the job’. These steps on how to cure burnout can be implemented anytime you’re feeling really stressed at work. If you ignore the hidden signs of burnout, you will be unable to contribute your best self to your team. Your family will also feel the brunt of your burnout as you’ll also be unable to be your best self for them.
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