5 Ways to Cope with Job Burnout

5 Ways to Cope with Job Burnout

Let’s face it: the past couple years have been challenging. Not just in terms of work and career paths, but with everything we’ve faced in our personal lives amid the global pandemic.

It’s no wonder we’re hearing from many of our clients that they’re burned out with work and want to try something new. What is job burnout, exactly? According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s a state of emotional or physical exhaustion that’s accompanied by a lack of feeling accomplished and a loss of personal identity.

Job burnout might look or feel like:

  • Not feeling engaged at work: not feeling motivated to put in extra effort, volunteer for tasks or go above and beyond, since you don’t feel loyal to your employer
  • Negativity: criticizing your colleagues or loathing your work assignments
  • Diminished production: making mistakes because it’s hard to concentrate, or having your work suffer because it’s difficult to get motivated

Another sign of burnout may be using substances or unhealthy habits to cope with work, like drinking alcohol or eating fast food to offer some form of happiness you’re not getting on the job. That can lead to bigger, long-term health effects.

If you suspect you might be feeling burned out by your work, here are five things you can do to cope.

1. Be Honest with Your Supervisor

Your manager plays a significant role in your work satisfaction. According to Gallup research, managers determine 70% of the variance in their team’s engagement.

Start your approach to tackle burnout by strengthening your relationship with your manager. Some ideas:

  • Ask to have regular check-ins with your manager, at least a half-hour one-on-one each week, if possible.
  • During your check-ins, explain any roadblocks you’re facing to being more engaged and productive at work. It might be that you’re overloaded with tasks, or you’re doing work that someone in a different role should be doing instead.
  • Be positive during your meetings. Let your manager know you’re grateful for meeting with them, you want to do a good job, and that you need specific support in order to do so.

If you currently lack substantial face time with your manager, they may be clueless that you’re suffering. Employee turnover is expensive for businesses. Part of your manager’s job is to provide you with the tools you need to succeed.

An honest conversation positions you to get that support. When you establish regular check-ins, you can stay at top of mind and create realistic work expectations that help you thrive instead of burn out.

2. Change Up Your Work Day

Other work environment factors could be causing you to burn out. Think about things like the following.

Is your desk disorganized and messy?

That could cause daily stress when you need to locate something or find it difficult to concentrate. Research shows office clutter can lead to hours of wasted productivity each week, as well as less creative thinking and reduced focus.

Whether you work in an office or from home, organize and declutter your desk. See how that impacts your next work day.

Who do you talk to during the day?

If most of your informal work day communication is negative or focused on gossip, that could drain precious energy you could use on the job. Aim to decrease the amount of time you spend talking about negative topics with coworkers.

Form relationships with mentors who can help you advance your career, instead. Focus on learning and growing, rather than complaining about what you’re dealing with.

Do you take breaks?

If you tend to grind on the job without taking breaks or even eating lunch, that could lead to burnout. Research reported by Michigan State University shows taking a work break increases work focus when you go back to the job, which can improve your productivity. Breaks also contribute to better mental health, well-being and work satisfaction.

Take at least one 5-minute break around each hour to get up and stretch your legs, walk around or have a positive conversation with a coworker or friend.

3. Identify Your Strengths

Another cause of burnout is when you don’t enjoy the work you’re doing. Even when you’re in a position you were originally excited to apply for, your job may have evolved to require tasks you don’t actually like or that don’t use your strengths.

Using strengths at work makes us more effective. Gallup research shows people who use their strengths daily are:

  • 6x more likely to be engaged on the job
  • 8% more productive
  • 15% less likely to quit their jobs
  • 3x more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life

It’s in your employer’s and manager’s best interest to give you work that lets you activate your strengths. Going back to point #1, when you have your check-ins with your manager, tell them what your strengths are. Suggest ways you can apply them in your role.

If you realize your strengths are better used in a different type of position and there’s no way to work them into your current job, it may be time to move on to #4: look for a new job.

4. Begin a Job Search

When your mental and/or physical health suffers due to job burnout, everything else in your life will be impacted, too. In a typical week, you spend at least one-third of your waking hours in a full-time job. Your job significantly impacts your life. If you’re not happy and you’re feeling the effects of burnout, you can start to look for something new, even as you continue working.

We recommend to:

  • Update your resume: This ensures you’re ready to edit it for new jobs and send it quickly when opportunities arise.
  • Edit your LinkedIn profile: Make sure your LinkedIn profile’s professional and up-to-date, too. Research shows the vast majority of recruiters, hirers and managers use LinkedIn to find and evaluate candidates.
  • Prepare for job interviews: If it’s been awhile since your last job interview, practicing answering questions out loud will position you to be confident and capable when you meet with a hirer.

You might also want to look into job seeker programs with a career coach. A career coach can help you identify your strengths, so you know what types of positions you’re qualified for that might be a better fit. They can also get you ready to start applying, with other tools like cover letter templates and job search organizers.

5. Prioritize Self-Care

Whatever job you have, wherever you are in your career, it’s important to prioritize your health with self-care practices. Self-care can help you cope with burnout you’re experiencing and put you in a better mental space to move on from your current job or gain the confidence to make things work at your employer.

Some ways to practice self-care include:

  • Use your vacation days and personal time, especially if your time off is “use it or lose it”.
  • Unplug from work at the end of your work day. If your job description doesn’t require you to be available 24/7, feel confident about walking away from work on your off time. That includes during your vacation and personal days.
  • Find hobbies and activities that bring you happiness and joy. This could be starting a fitness routine, taking a class for fun or finding a creative outlet. Schedule time to devote to your hobbies or activities each day.
  • Dedicate time to relationships that lift you up. Spend less time with people who are mostly negative or complain a lot. Create boundaries in your personal life so you don’t spread yourself too thin.

Your life and happiness are worth focusing on. It can be helpful to write out what you typically devote time to each week. Think about what you can spend less time on, which areas you can set boundaries in and what activities you can do more of to boost your mental and physical well-being.

Feeling Burned Out by Work? We Can Help

At HiConsulting Services, we provide career coaching to help you find work you love, that brings more meaning to your life. If you’re feeling burned out, it may be time to adjust what you’re doing at your current employer or explore new career options.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation on how we may be able to help you.

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