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Job Burnout? How to Reignite Your Health

Learn how to recognize — and reverse — job burnout.

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You've started feeling cynical. You’re worn out and unmotivated. Five o'clock can't come soon enough. You may find yourself snapping at your loved ones at home. Everyone has bad days at work. But if you feel like you're trudging through every day, you may be facing job burnout.

Burnout is caused by ongoing stress. And stress that doesn't let up puts your "fight or flight" system into overdrive. This can result in the release of hormones that are damaging to your physical and mental health. This may lead to chronic health problems like heart disease, depression and severe anxiety.

The key is to recognize burnout if you’re at risk, and take steps to prevent it.

Building blocks for burnout

You may be at risk if you:

  • Work in a high-pressure or chaotic environment
  • Are not rewarded or recognized for your good work
  • Find your work unchallenging or monotonous
  • Have unclear, multiple job priorities or overly demanding job expectations
  • Feel you have little to no control over your work
  • Don’t have a good support system where you can discuss your stress and challenges

Your personality traits and lifestyle habits may add to burnout. For example, if you have a high-achieving, Type A personality or you are a perfectionist, these traits can make you more at risk for job burnout. Similarly, if you lack supportive, close relationships, you’ll be more at risk for burnout.

Burnout busters

It's important to recognize the signs, so you can turn things around. Here are some tips:

  • Focus on an outside-work activity. Get back to enjoying a favorite hobby, try something new or start a fun project.
  • Unplug more often. Take technology breaks every day. Stop checking email, put away your laptop and turn off your phone.  Make the weekends a time to unplug from work and concentrate on yourself and your friends and family.
  • Make time for relaxing rituals. For example, meditate for 15 minutes, write in your journal or do gentle stretches. Eat nutritious foods, exercise and look into reasonably priced massage or yoga studios in your area.
  • Talk to your boss. Ask your boss what he or she expects of you. Ask for the authority or resources you need to get your job done. If you can't get what you need, think about moving to another department.
  • Seek support. Reach out to family and friends, even if you feel like isolating yourself. Many companies have an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, to teach you skills to manage stress. There are in-person and online support groups for people going through the same experience as you.
  • Sleep, eat well and exercise. These are building blocks for good health. Always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.
  • Set boundaries. Learn how to say “no” when you don’t want to do something, if you can. Say “yes” more to the things you actually want to do!

By Geri K. Metzger, Contributing Writer

National Institute of Mental Health. Fact sheet on stress. Accessed: December 15, 2016.
American Psychological Association. Overwhelmed by workplace stress? You’re not alone. Accessed: December 15, 2016.
Helpguide. Stress at work: Tips to reduce and manage job and workplace stress. Accessed: December 15, 2016.
Helpguide. Burnout prevention and recovery. Accessed: December 15, 2016.

Updated December 15, 2016