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Tips for Combatting Burnout

Matthew Cuddeback LCSW

We all experience burnout at some point in our careers. It is easy to find yourself gradually slipping into this difficult place without even noticing it. However, it is an incredibly important feeling to pay attention to, as the pitfalls of ignoring it can have highly negative consequences, and managing it well can often bring you to an even better place in your career. Below are a few tips to address and combat those feelings of burnout when they creep in:

  • Take Time Off – This one is straightforward, take time off if you can, and oftentimes employers are far more understanding about time off than we think. If you can’t, it is possible this is an indicator of underlying reasons for why you are feeling burnout, and of course, there are other steps that can be useful if this is not an option.
  • Search for Specific Annoyances – It is always a good first step to start exploring what are the specific things that are making you feel frustrated or annoyed. When feeling burnout, pay close attention to what is most frustrating. Is it your co-worker that you sit next to and their negative attitude? Is it the way your boss talks to you? The project you are currently working on? When you can get a list of these annoyances it can help see underlying themes. If everything that is bothering you has to do with your boss, that may be easier to address. If it is mostly centered around the project you are working on, you now have a better handle on what to focus on.
  • Ask Yourself What May Be An Underlying Cause – Is it just that you’re exhausted, or is that you are not feeling like you are achieving your potential? Are you in the wrong job or the wrong position? Sometimes we think the problem is our loud co-worker, but in actuality, it’s something bigger underneath the surface, we want to make sure we are not confusing the symptom and the cause.
  • Explore Mindfulness – Part of mindfulness is acknowledging without judgment, the things we are thinking and feeling. If we are trying to put our head down and get through the day but end up unhappy every day, we may need to spend more time allowing ourselves to feel what we are feeling instead of trying to hide or deny it. We often fight our feelings and hiding from them does not work in the long term.
  • Identify Small Changes – If you’re feeling particularly frustrated by your co-worker, maybe it’s worth a conversation to address the issue. Maybe you need to start listening to music to better be able to focus. Maybe coming in earlier will help you get more work done before others get there, or you could talk to your supervisor about ways you could work better together.
  • Identify Big Changes – Maybe it’s bigger than that. You have been unhappy for too long, your supervisor is inappropriate, or you realized you want something completely different. Well, maybe it’s time to talk to HR, or start updating your resume, or even start thinking about going back to school. These big steps can be scary, but if you have tried smaller changes and adaptations and they haven’t worked maybe it’s time to take a bigger step.

Research tells us that when we ignore burnout, we do much worse in our work. The quality of our work suffers, our work relationships deteriorate, and our negative feelings about our work become more deeply ingrained. We all experience burnout at some time, it can be a systemic issue or something more internal and personal. There are small steps and big steps that can be very helpful to navigate this frustrating situation and they are all worth trying. Sometimes it is just a matter of changing the way you are thinking about things, making a small change, or maybe it’s bigger than that, and more drastic steps are needed. Regardless, addressing the burnout will work better for you in many ways instead of trying to pretend it’s not there.

Talk to one of our Chicago therapists about burnout and learn tools to help you manage burnout in a healthy manner. Contact Symmetry Counseling today.

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