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Personal Health

10 Timeless Tips for Coping with Career Burnout

Male florist taking inventory

Are you feeling exhausted, bored, or uninspired at work? Is your workload overwhelming and demanding? Have you been struggling to concentrate on everyday job tasks? Do you dread Mondays or the start of your shift? If so, you’re likely burned out. Burnout is the extreme stress and fatigue you experience when working too hard. Career burnout is a physically and emotionally draining state where you feel utterly depleted. Being burned out long-term can even make you sick. Addressing your burnout right away is essential to protect your health. Here are 10 timeless tips for coping with career burnout and recharging your batteries.

1) Use Your Vacation Time

Working 40 or more hours for 52 straight weeks could make anyone burned out. The majority of employers offer two weeks of paid vacation time each year. Please take this advantage. There’s no prize for banking the most unused vacation days. Give yourself the gift of a mental health break. Burned out people often plan an exciting trip or cruise to get away. You don’t need to tour exotic destinations though. If money is tight, stay at home and enjoy fun activities you rarely can. Whatever you do, don’t work on any business. Leave your briefcase closed and your email inbox unchecked to truly unwind. Keep your home the sanctuary away from your job.

2) Take Work Breaks Too

You’re most at risk of career burnout if you don’t take daily breaks. Constant focus on work 24/7 is dangerous. So, stop working right through lunch at your desk. Take the 30 to 60 minutes off to eat your lunch in peace. Spend time chatting with colleagues in the cafeteria. Put together a lunch walking group to get moving. Perhaps read a good book or listen to music while munching away. Besides lunch, take at least 10-minute breaks for every few hours of work. Rest breaks get your eyes off the computer screen to avoid strain. If you’re working on your feet, breaks give you the respite of sitting down. When you return to work, you’ll be more alert and productive.

3) Get Plenty of Shut-Eye

Career burnout gets worse when you don’t sleep enough. Doctors generally suggest getting 7-9 hours of rest each night. Skating by on three or four hours of shut-eye won’t cut it. Sleepless nights working late will catch up to you. Make sleep a priority by sticking to a relaxing nighttime routine. Calm your mind down with a cup of chamomile tea. Decompress with a warm bubble bath. Silence your phone and turn off the TV. Close the blinds tight to darken your bedroom. Relax into the pillow, close your eyes, and consciously clear your mind. If you’re still awake and staring at the clock, talk to your doctor about an insomnia sleep aid.

4) Keep a Nutritious Diet

Long office hours often correlate to poor food choices. You’re tempted to eat vending machine snacks and substitute fast food for missed dinners. Handling career burnout requires feeding your body healthy foods. Don’t fall for supposed “comfort” foods like pizza and ice cream. Balance your diet with fruits, veggies, and lean proteins for essential nutrients. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and nuts, are great stress relievers. Lay off the sugar and carbohydrates that sap your energy. Avoid caffeine drinks and extra coffees that will make you feel more frazzled. Drink at least two liters of water daily. Limit your alcoholic drinks because this depressant affects your mood.

5) Exercise Regularly

Coping with career burnouts requires daily workouts. Office workers are prone to sitting too long. Sedentary lifestyles lead to many dangerous health consequences like heart disease. Therefore, get moving when you’re off the clock. Exercise is a natural mood-booster that triggers happy endorphins. Intense workouts, such as kickboxing and running, let you release pent-up anger. Relaxing exercises, including swimming and yoga, take your mind off stressors. It’s best to fit 30 to 60 minutes of exercise into your schedule. If needed, pencil in three 20-minute exercise breaks to get your heart pumping. Morning exercise before work can boost your energy for the day. Evening exercise after work may improve your ability to sleep.

6) Meditate

Burnout causes a string of anxious thoughts racing through your brain. You’re likely doubting yourself, worried about your future, and wondering “what ifs.” Negative feelings keep running like a hamster wheel. Breaking this mental stress cycle is critical. Mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to calm your overactive psyche. Locate a relaxing, tranquil space to sit down cross-legged. Settle into a comfy seat or pillow and close your eyes. Inhale deeply to your diaphragm and exhale slowly out your nose. Picture a blank slate in your mind that’s completely void of worries. If your mind strays, simply release the thought and focus back on your breath. Keep this relaxation going for 10 to 30 minutes per day.

7) Connect with People

Busy work lives aren’t typically conducive to relationships. People with demanding jobs spend more time in the office than at home. You’ve probably missed plenty of family milestones like birthdays and recitals. Strained relationships can compound career burnout though. Don’t push loved ones away. Prioritize a work-life balance where you’re present for family and friends. If you’re single, attend social events to meet new friends and potential dates. If you’re married or committed to a partner, keep scheduling a date night to stay connected. Build a support system you can turn to when feeling stressed. Loved ones can buffer you from career burnout when you let them in. Talking out your repressed feelings and worries with them can help.

8) Unplug from Technology

Technology has saturated our world. Everyone walks around with a phone or tablet glued to their hand. Busy workers index their whole work life on computer hard drives. People even wear smartwatches and smart glasses. We’re constantly drawn into checking our email and reading social media on all of these devices. Too much technology can contribute to your career burnout. Sometimes, you don’t want to be constantly reminded of work and responsibility. The simple solution is to unplug. Unless you’re a doctor on call, it’s okay to power down your devices outside business hours. Lift your head, stretch your shoulders, and enjoy the world around you. Practice a digital diet where you block out technology for a few hours daily.

9) Practice Saying “No”

Career burnout frequently happens when you’re overwhelmed. Do you feel the work piling up? Is your boss asking you to take on more than you can handle? Then, practice saying one simple word – no. Don’t feel guilty about telling people “no” or “not right now.” Taking care of yourself needs to be priority one. Be upfront, direct, and honest about your current workload. Make it clear you’re declining the request because you’re swamped. If possible, reschedule the favor or project for a later date. Most people won’t fault you for keeping your workload manageable. Devoting your full attention to completing one task well is better than finishing two poor jobs.

10) Consider a Career Change

Are these tips for coping with career burnout not working? A big career change may be needed. Maybe you’re not burned out because of stress or fatigue. Perhaps you’re in the wrong career. Take a pensive look at your goals and desires. Ask yourself if you feel fulfilled and engaged. If not, start brainstorming better careers that suit your interests. Head to online job boards and see what openings are available. Read job descriptions and pinpoint which ones excite you. Rewrite your resume with transferrable skills and experiences for these new jobs. Keep applying and interviewing while you work. Once you land a brand-new job, you can resign and hopefully leave career burnout behind.