What is Burnout – And How Do You Fix It?
As we learn more and more about the benefits of a healthy work-life balance, we’re also learning about its opposite: burnout.
From TikTok trends to infographics, burnout has become a trendy topic to discuss online - and there is no shortage of self–care tips to cure it.
But as much as we might wish burnout could be fixed with a relaxing night off, a face mask, and a good book, the truth is that burnout is a lot more serious than we might think.
Here at KMA, we understand how detrimental burnout can be to your quality of life. We offer specialized Career Counselling and Psychotherapy to help our clients successfully balance their work life and family life, and confidently handle challenges in the workplace.
This article will help you to learn more about the effects of burnout, and how you can take back control of your life.
By the end of this article, you’ll understand the difference between stress and burnout, the signs of burnout, and strategies to heal from burnout.
How Burnout Differs From Stress
There are certainly similarities between feeling stressed and being fully burned out – being stressed over a long period can even be one of the factors that lead to burnout.
However, the opposite is true – when you’re feeling drained and exhausted, minor situations that you’d usually be able to handle can feel more stressful.
A stressful situation, such as an upcoming work deadline, can leave you feeling anxious until the situation has passed. But once you’ve met your deadline, the feelings of stress typically pass, giving way to relief.
When you’re experiencing burnout, facing an upcoming work deadline can also cause you stress. But even after you’ve met it, you often don’t reach a point of relief. You may still feel drained and find yourself with a lack of motivation to keep working.
Ultimately, stress can be unpleasant, and long-term stress can certainly be unhealthy. But burnout leaves us feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted.
If you think that you’re experiencing something more than stress, keep reading to learn about the signs of burnout.
Signs of Burnout
You could be experiencing burnout if:
- You find yourself unable to care about your work life or your home life
- You don’t feel like your work is appreciated or makes a difference
- You feel exhausted and drained almost all of the time
- You feel moody, impatient, or short-tempered
- Your productivity has been reduced
Although it’s normal to have days where your motivation fluctuates, when you’re burned out, these feelings are constant.
At this point, you may suspect that you’re experiencing burnout. But what steps can you take to fix it?
How To Fix Burnout
1. Create More Time for Rest
Since one of the primary factors of burnout is exhaustion, creating the time for more sleep is essential.
This can certainly be easier said than done – if we had the extra time to sleep, we might not be burned out in the first place.
However, small steps like creating a set sleep schedule, establishing a nightly routine, and unplugging electronics for 30 minutes before bed can have great long-term benefits for your sleep hygiene.
2. Create Stronger Boundaries at Work
Especially with our increasingly-online work world, there can be a lot of pressure to be available for your job 24/7. You may feel guilty saying “no” at work or feel anxious about taking time away from your inbox.
But beyond its benefits for your mental health, taking the time to fight burnout can make you a better employee.
Some simple ways to set boundaries at work include:
- Learning to say no to additional tasks, or tasks that are not your responsibility
- Identifying your priorities every week (which includes identifying what doesn’t have to be done)
- Taking time off when you need it (both vacation time, as well as taking smaller breaks during the day)
Something as simple as taking a quick fifteen-minute walk during your lunch break, rather than eating at your desk, can help you start to feel better throughout the day.
3. Speak with a Therapist
Speaking with a Career Counsellor or Psychotherapist can be a great way to learn more about setting boundaries at work and finding a balance between your work and home life.
Some issues they can help you with include:
- Feeling under-valued at work
- Feeling over-worked in your job
- Facing discrimination in the workplace
- Changing careers or starting your own business
And while feeling withdrawn and exhausted be signs of burnout, they can also be a sign of something more – it’s always a good idea to speak to a therapist when you’re experiencing challenges with your mental health.
Next Steps to Dealing With Burnout
After reading this article, you now have an understanding of the difference between burnout and stress, indicators that you may be experiencing burnout, and what to do about it.
Here at KMA, we understand how frustrating facing burnout can be – but you don’t have to face it alone.
Our career therapists are here to support you in setting goals, exploring motivations, and facing challenges so that you feel prepared to succeed.
If you’re not yet ready to book your introductory session, explore these resources for more information:
- If you’re still wondering whether psychotherapy is right for you, read: Will Psychotherapy Help Me?
- If you’re unsure about therapy, read: The 5 Most Common Misconceptions About Therapy
- If you’re wondering about the price of therapy, read: Is Therapy Worth the Cost?