Overworked: How to Avoid Burnout

Do you dread going to work from the moment you wake up? Does a heavy, gloomy feeling keep you from getting out of bed? You could already be experiencing burnout. People who experience constant stress at work put themselves at high risk of this unwelcome condition, defined as the breakdown of mental defenses that help a person cope with pressure. Once burnout sets in, you may start feeling exhausted, hopeless, and unable to complete even the most simple of tasks. Here are its most common signs:

  • Diminished performance – people experiencing burnout may feel an aversion to tasks, not only at work, but at home as well. They often lack focus, and thus are unable to solve everyday problems.
  • Physical symptoms – constant stress can manifest itself in your physical appearance, such as weight loss or premature aging. It may also lead to health-related symptoms such as headaches or gastrointestinal issues.
  • Emotional distress – burnout can cause people to feel irritable and overly sensitive all of the time.
  • Alienation – someone who’s burned out may start to distance himself or herself from co-workers for no apparent reason. They start to view the office as a terrible place, and may become distrustful and anxious about their working environment and the employees they work with.

People experience burnout for a variety of reasons, but the important thing is to recognize it and do something about it before it does irreparable damage. Here are six ways to overcome a possible burnout at work.

Learn to say ‘No’

If you constantly say yes to every request despite being swamped with tasks, burnout becomes inevitable. The simple solution is to learn to refuse any additional task if you don’t have the time or availability. Unfortunately, if you’re used to saying yes all the time, this is easier said than done. Experts say that the ability to say no is directly linked to self-confidence, and people who are low on it tend to agree to every request.

Tips to try:

  • When saying no, keep your responses short, and be firm. When someone asks you to do something, say something like, “I’m sorry, but I can’t right now.” Convey your resolve in your body language, and don’t over-apologize.
  • Make the distinction between the individual and the action. Remember that you’re refusing a request, not rejecting the person. Most people will understand that it is well within your right to say no.


Meditation is a powerful weapon against everyday stresses. It’s a proven way to prevent the onset of anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. In most cases, 10 minutes of meditation a day can be enough to calm your nerves and put you in a better headspace.

Tips to try:

  • Find the time to meditate. You can meditate anytime, anywhere, even in the busiest of spaces. Bring awareness to your sense and thoughts, breathing deeply throughout. Focus on your breathing and start counting slowly from 1 to 10, then in reverse. Keep repeating until you regain control of your nerves.
  • If you’re having a hard time focusing with people around, look for a quiet spot where you can close your eyes and be alone with your self, then try the meditation technique described above again.

Take a vacation

When you can’t shake off the feeling of being drained all the time, that’s usually a sign that you need to distance yourself from work. While a two-week vacation sounds great, experts suggest that a three- to five-day getaway is more beneficial for stress reduction.

Tips to try:

  • Set itineraries and goals for your vacation. Make sure your itineraries address your goals. Try to find a vacation spot where you can get all you want in one place to minimize stress induced by travel. You don’t want your vacation to add to your worries.
  • Have realistic expectations. Your vacation won’t likely eliminate your dread for work completely, and not everything in your vacation may go the way you planned. Avoid setting lofty expectations, as this can lead to frustration and disappointment afterwards, thus defeating the purpose of your vacation.

Involve other people

Instead of trying to battle burnout on your own, surround yourself with people who can help you overcome the negativity. It can be your family, friends, or co-workers. Draw support from people who can relate to what you’re going through. The positive reinforcement that a caring social circle provides can give you the strength and willpower you need to beat symptoms of burnout.

Tips to try:

  • Communicate with your boss or co-workers if your burnout symptoms are starting to overwhelm you. Sometimes, all it takes is to let people know what you’re going through for changes to happen that may improve your situation.
  • When seeking the help of others, be solution-oriented, and avoid complaining. Think of possible solutions and discuss them with your chosen confidante/s.

Distract yourself

What are your hobbies, interests, and passions? Having personal goals outside of work can help take your mind off the sources of your burnout. Take up art. Indulge in favorite sport. By pursuing an active, creative pastime, you can successfully detach from work and regain your joy.

Tips to try:

  • Think about enrolling yourself in a class relating to your interests. This way, you get to learn and make friends in the process. Look for a class that you can attend twice a week. Once a week is not enough, and thrice a week usually takes too much of your personal time.
  • Join a gym. Many studies have proven that exercise plays a huge role in preventing workplace burnout. If your busy schedule or salary can’t accommodate a gym membership, there are a variety of quick and easy exercises for you to try at home, such as squats, pushups, jumping jacks, and crunches. Do three sets of each exercise five to ten times. Move at a brisk pace to maximize cardiovascular activity.

What if when all else fails?

Sometimes, the demands of your job itself is the main cause of your burnout. When you’ve tried every possible solution and nothing works, a change of scenery may be in order, and a new job or career path is the only solution left for you to take.

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