James had just passed out of college and was excited to start working on his new job. Every day was a challenge and he was loving it! But as the years passed, he started to feel bored, not wanting to work and there was no excitement anymore in what he was doing. His productivity was on a low and slowly his confidence and morale were also going down the lane. He wondered on what he was experiencing – then he realized that he had entered the phase of career Burnout!

burned out at work

What is Career Burnout?

Burnout is a phase when a person is mentally and physically exhausted. Burnout brings with it failures, low productivity, depression, low confidence and much more. Following are the symptoms of Burnout.

  • Losing Interest in what you do
  • Exhaustion has taken over your excitement
  • Every day is a bad day
  • Overburdened with responsibilities
  • Reached a new low with patience

You can also experience physical exhaustion symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, sleeplessness and heart palpitations. Your health takes a hit during this phase and hence, it becomes important to get back on the healthy side as the recovery journey is also a difficult path.

Recovering From Burnout:

No illness gets treated, till you identify the early symptoms and go to a doctor. A similar approach has to be followed with Burnouts also. If you have any of the above burnout symptoms then you need to take a break and find a solution to come out of it. It is not a high speed journey but a slow recovery road, where you need to be patient and have strength to reach your destination. Below are some of the strategies that can be used to help oneself overcome burnout, don’t be afraid to try.

Find the reason for the Burnout:

To implement a strategy you need to know the root cause of the problem. So, sit back and ponder on why have you been experiencing the burnout and since when. Is it because of the profession or personal? You need to be clear on the root so that right medicine can be applied. Don’t hurry on going to the next phase, take your time and get to the root before starting the treatment. There are different ways in which you can reach the root.

a. Ask the 5 WHYS:

This technique is an effective way to get to the root of the problem. You need to create 5 WHYs questions based on the problem that you are facing like

  • WHY am I missing on family time?
  • WHY my deliveries are late?
  • WHY am I working on this project?
  • WHY are my concerns not getting addressed?
  • WHY I am not getting a positive feedback?

Now sit down and answer the questions one by one and try to identify your causes of burnout. Once you have an answer try and work towards eliminating it. But work on it one by one and not all together. Solve your first WHY and then move on to the next one.

b. Maintain Stress Diary:

This is an effective method to identify the source of the problem. You need to maintain this diary daily and make sure that you make an entry of the causes that caused stress and exhaustion. If you have been maintaining the diary for a long period of time, then it will hold all your answers. You can reach to the root easily by reviewing what you have written and address the problem accordingly. This diary can be very illuminating to oneself.

c. Start Delegating once the root cause is known:

Once you are clear with the issue and the reason why you are facing the burnout stress, it is time for delegation. If you feel that you have too many of responsibilities at work, delegate it to your juniors to balance your work load. If you feel that you are missing on family time, then start working from home once a week to feel the part of the family again. If you feel that you are not excited or challenged by your existing role then look out for a new role or job.

Things you Can do to Recover from Burnout at Work:

Once you know the reason for the burnout, it is time to get rejuvenated by taking a break from your work. Get charged up completely before you rejoin your work so that you are in the right frame of mind and feel fresh and active. You need to get positive vibes, a peaceful mind, stable and healthy body for burnout recovery. It is not impossible but is a long journey that you will have to take to get back to your old self or meet your new self-confident inner person. There are various ways of re-energizing yourself. Let us look at some of them.

a. Join the Exercise Club:

Stressful environment often takes a toll on your body. You need to get your body back from the stress and the best way to do that is EXERCISE. Join work-out sessions but make sure that you don’t over-do it. You can go for an early morning jog; it is peaceful and quite at that time and you can feel the positive energy. You can start meditating which will help you in boosting your concentration and good vibes within your body. Yoga is a very good form of exercise to get that strength back and to be confident again.

b. Focus on your diet:

Busy life leads to unhealthy food habits which result in low-strength body and mind. You body becomes incapable of taking stress and hence you end up irritated. You need to make sure that you get back on to a healthy diet with plenty of fluids and good amount of sleep. You need to have minimum 8 hours of the sleep so that your mind and body feel fresh and energized the next day. Inappropriate diet also contributes to burnouts.

c. It is time for a HOLIDAY:

You need a vacation to de-stress yourself and recover from burnout. You can select the holiday destination based on what you like. If you are water animal then you can go to adventurous beach destinations. Being away from work and doing what you love will help you to de-stress. Once you are back from the holiday, you can start your work all over again with a positive mind.

d. Review your goals:

One of the reasons for burnout is when you are happy with what you have accomplished or the work you are doing. Goals are assigned professionally as well as personally and now it is time to tally both the goals. Is your work helping you achieve your personal goals? Analyze yourself and find out what you want and what the job is giving you. Work out a plan where you can mould your professional goals to achieve what you had set out for!

e. Learn to SAY NO in an effective manner:

One of the reasons for burnout is overwhelming responsibilities. If you are type of employee who nods his or her head on every instruction given by your senior then you might face a burnout situation sooner or later. You need to say NO to any new responsibilities in your burnout stage. Firstly, finish your pending task and make sure your desk is all cleared. Once you are ready, learn to complete the task by using the magic tool called as Delegation.

f. Get back your positivity:

During the burnout phase, your mind often wonders on the negative track. You tend to question yourself – “Whether you are good enough?” – This question leads to low morale and confidence. It is important to get your positivity back by thinking good things, celebrating small accomplishments, giving back to the society and many more ways. It will be difficult but not impossible to fill your mind and body with positive vibes. You need to re-discover yourself and the passion you have for your work.

g. Get Help:

At times it becomes impossible to deal with the situation on your own and you need a third party to intervene. You can go to your friends and discuss your situation, take their inputs and make sure they are there to watch your back. You can get help from a trained counsellor who is an expert in analyzing your lows and giving solutions on how to come out of it. They can help you step by step to come out of the burnout phase of your life. Friends, family and your personal counsellor are the ones you can rely on and open your heart to, talking out is a good way of de-stressing yourself.

h. Get in touch with your hobby:

There are very few in this world you have made a career out of their hobby. During a break take your time and re-discover your hobby. Over the years with hectic professional life, hobbies take a back seat so, now is the time to get them in the front. Did you love reading, go and buy books of the genre that you enjoy. Do you love to sing then pick up your musical instrument and get back behind your mike?

i. Help others to help yourself:

Identify yourself with others, you see a person in pain then go and help them. Helping others can divert your mind and you can feel good about yourself when you see the guy happy with your advice. Never think that you are the only one sailing alone there are many other passengers on the boat but invisible to you. Together you can achieve a lot compared to what you can do single handed. It is time to remove the lonely glass and join the group to help each other come out of their burnouts.

Commit Yourself to Recovery:

Every person is different and so is the burnout situation. For a similar situation one strategy will work for Person A but might not work for Person B. You need to analyze your situation and based on your personality, select the recovery path. Do not think that it is an easy journey with no hiccups. There will be road blocks but your focus to recover will help you overcome the hurdles.

Try and Try Till You Succeed:

There will be failures in terms of implementing or following a recovery path. Don’t stop, keep on moving – if path A doesn’t work then come back, re-analyze and choose a different path. Keep doing this, till you recover completely from your burnout phase. You need to stay committed and focussed to achieve success which can come in weeks or months or years. No strategy will give you a time frame for a recovery period; it all depends on how focussed and committed you are to get back.

Burnout phase is a dark period in one’s life which brings on all kinds of negativity. You need to keep in mind that you do not take any drastic steps which can cause harm to your family. You need to rise from your failures and see success again. Rely on your trusted peers and talk to them to get positive vibes. Take care of your health, body and mind which also get affected in this phase.