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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

How to Fix Burning out at Work and Get Back on Track

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How to Fix Burning out at Work and Get Back on Track

Anyone that has held a job for a few years, even six months, may have encountered burnout. Burnout can be physical or mental exhaustion.

The passion that once flamed for the job has burned out and you are left dreading the feeling of going into work. You may have anxiety or are constantly overwhelmed. The constant stress has you in fight or flight and your energy is gone.

Burnout is more than working hard, burnout affects all areas of your life. At work, your productivity goes down, you may feel cynical and resentful at the job and you can’t seem to find the answers that are usually right in front of you.

At home, you may have a short fuse with your family and struggle to wake up and get out the door. At night you may zone out completely and have a hard time focusing on what matters.

Why Do We Burn Out

A typical job schedule in the United States is 40 hours a week. You may work a little less some weeks and a little more other weeks. Some people work a lot more than 40 hours a week, every week.

When you spend this kind of time in one place, it is easy to see that a person can burnout. To be more specific, some of the reasons people burn out are:

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  • Job repetition
  • Low salary
  • High volume of workload
  • Staying in the same place for too long
  • No room for advancement
  • Lack of social connection

There are many contributing factors to burnout, and it can vary by person. Burnout for one person may come a lot later than someone else. The breaking point for each person can change. It is important to recognize the causes and the symptoms of burnout so you can make a shift.

What Everyone Is Wrong About Burning Out

Before we dive into how to fix a burnout, I want to bust the myths many have about burning out. Only by understanding burn out more will you be able to fix it from the root.

Myth #1: Because you’re burned out, you are weak or cannot handle stress.

This is not the case, in fact, burning out is the opposite. It is your body’s way of showing you that it is time to slow down so you can handle the stress.

When you burnout, your body and your mental brain can become cluttered. When you recognize this, you can make a shift and reevaluate what you are working toward. Our natural instinct is to blame ourselves. However, no one is made to handle that stress load for long periods of time.

When you look at successful entrepreneurs and see the load in which they carry each day, you have to recognize that they have tools in place to support them and a team to help. No one person, can do it all.

Myth #2: You should keep burnout a secret.

If you keep burnout a secret, you are risking your well being. I am not asking you to stand on top of your desk at work and scream out loud saying that you are tired. What I am saying is to find a partner to communicate with. This can be a co-worker, a friend, or your partner.

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The Burnout Fixing Plan

Fixing burnout could be a simple self care routine that you implement each day or it can be jetting off for a week of unplugged vacation time.

There are many strategies that can support you and here are a few of my favorites.

Set a Goal and Stick to It

Take a look at your current goals, do you have too many things to focus on, but lose the focus for the most important things? Maybe what mattered two years ago when you took this job no longer matters now.

Either way, take a look at your goals and assess what you want to keep and what you want to let go.

Activity breeds more activity. When you start to get busy, life gives you more things to do. You have to get clear on what matches your goals and is aligned with your long term plan.

Get More Sleep No Matter What

Late night work may have seemed productive for some; but the reality is it hurts more than it helps. Let go of the late nights and hit the pillow sooner.

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When you get more sleep, you can better handle the problems that life throws at you. Instead of reacting, you can create a plan and start shifting.

If you are afraid of not getting enough done, take a look at your priorities and start looking at what is on your plate that does not matter.

Go to bed early and wake up early before everyone else. You can get 8 hours of sleep and work for 90 minutes uninterrupted in the morning.

It may take practice, yet when you show up each day and make this a new habit, it will become easier.

Don’t Skip Breaks

A vacation allows you to temporarily leave the stressor. When you get into an argument with your partner, you may allow yourself to walk away before you resume the argument to make sure you don’t yell.

This applies to work too. If you find yourself on a short fuse, take time off. If your natural instinct is to shut everyone out and become a hermit when times get tough, take a break. Separate yourself from the stressor.

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The break will help you regain your focus and you can spend some time shutting off your brain to reset.

Reset Your Body, Reset Your Brain

Right now you may be thinking, I can’t just leave my job this week. I have two major projects due and I have a coffee date planned. That is okay, start small and build up.

Start tonight by setting an alarm on your phone an hour before bed. When the alarm goes off, write down your number one priority for tomorrow, plan out your day, and brush your teeth. Go to bed fifteen minutes earlier and get more sleep.

Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed.

More by this author

RebeccaLynn Bologna

MBA, Mom mentor and Business coach

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster How to Fix Burning out at Work and Get Back on Track What the Most Successful People Do in the Evening Real Passion Will Never Die Out? False.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

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The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

I love my sleep. I always make sure to get at least eight hours each night. I’ll even leave parties early so I can get to bed at my usual time Yet, there are still mornings when I wake up feeling exhausted, even after a great night’s sleep. Whenever that happens, I run through a mental checklist, grasping at straws to explain to myself why I feel so groggy: why do I feel exhausted? Did I drink too much last night? Did I stay up past my usual bedtime? Did I hit snooze on my alarm twelve times? Eight hours of sleep a night shouldn’t result in chronic exhaustion, right?

Regardless of how much quality sleep you’re getting, you can still feel mentally exhausted, burnt out, run-down, worn through—whatever you want to call it. Most of the time, you’re so exhausted you don’t even have the time or the sense to see it clearly.

The answer is right in front of your face, but you haven’t had a chance to step back and analyze your situation. Maybe you hate your job, or you’re worried about paying rent, but you’re not actively thinking about it. How could you with all that’s going on? It’s planted in your subconscious, lurking there and eating away at your morale.

That worn-down feeling is a cumulative combination of unconsidered stressful circumstances—an amalgamation of past worries and future anxieties. We aren’t talking about your regular physical exhaustion from a long day’s work standing on your feet. This is purely in between your ears. You’re overstimulated, and it’s dragging you down. But what’s the real reason behind this brain fog? Why do you feel exhausted?

The first place to look at is stress,[1] which is the body’s natural response to a new challenge or demand. Where are you currently experiencing stress in your life?

Most pain, exhaustion, or emotional fatigue is the direct result of stress. Daily life is filled with tiny stressors—running to catch the morning bus, praying you’ll find a parking spot, or worrying about the leak in your ceiling at home. As these small stressors pile on uncontrollably, you realize you’re white-knuckling through the day.

Mental exhaustion,[2] simply put, is long-term stress. It’s having a day like the above over and over again for months on end until it weighs so much it finally drags you to the ground. You can’t keep living like this.

You may have experienced this in the form of a “mid-life crisis,” or even a quarter-life crisis where you stop and realize you never pursued the things you once hoped and dreamed of. Life passed you by in the blink of an eye. What happened to the “purpose” you once wanted to get out of life? Maybe you wanted to be an artist and all of a sudden, you look down and you’re forty-three years old sitting in a conference room surrounded by suits and boring charts.

You’re faking your way through life and you’re tired of putting on an act.

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Why Do You Feel Exhausted?

“Depression, anxiety, phobias… so many things can be disguised in a way that gives a facade of normalcy over a person’s internal struggles.” —Morgan Housel

There are many reasons why you may be feeling exhausted. There may be times when you had complete hours of sleep yet ask yourself after waking up: why do I still feel exhausted?

Why? It’s because there are other possible reasons for this exhaustion other than improper or lack of sleep. Here are some reasons why you feel exhausted.

1. High-Pressure Occupation (emergency responders and teachers)

Working in a highly stressful scene like an ER or police department is an obvious input for stress. Long hours on the job and making high-level decisions in crisis mode need to be followed by a period of rest, relaxation, and debriefing.

2. Working Long Hours

Consistently clocking in 12-14 hour days for weeks on end can drag you down. Many occupations require this type of work seasonally, like accountants during tax season. But when you’re spending that much time at week year-round and there is no end in sight, mental exhaustion can become chronic.

3. Financial Stress

For obvious reasons, being in troubled circumstances with your finances can cause long-term stress and constant worries, which lead to feeling exhausted. How can you enjoy life if you can’t afford to do the things you enjoy? No matter how much you sleep, you will still feel exhausted if something is troubling you at the back of your mind like financial problems.

4. Dissatisfied With Your Job

When you ask yourself, “why do I feel exhausted?” Try also asking, “Am I satisfied with my job?”

Many people slog through life in a job they hate. Whether it’s your unruly boss, the team that you work with, or the customers who you’re sick of hearing complaining, being stuck in a dissatisfying job can cause feelings of resentment in work and your personal life.

5. Clutter

Whether you’re naturally a messy person or life has become so frantic that you haven’t even had a chance to clean or organize, clutter plays a massive part in mental exhaustion. Having a clear workspace and a calm environment to walk into makes a difference in mental clarity. This can also affect your productivity and your attitude towards your job.

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6. Avoidance and Procrastination

When you feel exhausted, it may be because something at the back of your head is troubling you. You may have some responsibilities that you should be doing or have done but still have not. Putting things off too long will cause hidden stress to climb on top of you like a monkey on your back. Avoiding your responsibilities and procrastinating are some of the possible causes as to why you feel exhausted.

7. Living With Chronic Pain or an Illness

Going through life with stress is hard enough. Add on top of that something like chronic back pain or a congenital condition and it’s like taking care of two separate people for yourself. This can also cause feelings of resentment, bitterness, and irritation around people you love, even those who support and take care of you.

8. Death of a Loved One

Losing a close friend or family member is something everyone has experienced, and it never gets easier. Many people try to play tough and portray to their loved ones that they are okay and dealing with it just fine. But the reality is that it’s weighing them down.

Be honest with yourself about it, and have someone you can talk to. Experiencing your grief alone and not sharing it with anyone may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

9. Lack of Purpose

Life needs to have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose that is entirely unique to their circumstance. It can be guided by religion, occupation, or an ultimate life goal to strive towards, such as writing a book or owning a business. Without an ultimate purpose, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a depression that leads to mental exhaustion.

What Should You Do When You Feel Exhausted?

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” —Nicholas Sparks

1. Talk About It

It may sound obvious, but talking through these struggles with someone is a form of therapy in itself. Chances are, someone has been through the same type of thing that you’re going through right now. Don’t hide it. Open up and learn how others dealt with it. It’s more common than you think.

2. Find an Outlet or a Hobby

One way to help find joy out of a life of exhaustion is to come home to a hobby. Unwind from the workday by doing something you love that’s also a bit challenging. Learn how to play guitar, play video games with your kids, read a book, or learn new recipes to cook for your family. Take your mind away from whatever it is you’re worried about. Focus entirely on the process and get out of your anxiety.

3. Be Realistic

You can’t do everything. Look at your schedule, and be honest with yourself and the people around you about what’s possible for one person to do in a day. You can’t change the world alone. Enlist the help of others and don’t be too proud to ask. Putting the weight of the world on your shoulders may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

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4. Arrive Early

It took me years in life to realize how much being early can relieve stress. Waking up five minutes earlier gives me five minutes to relax and think if I’m forgetting anything before I head out the door. Leaving five minutes before I normally would for an event gives me five minutes to arrive and get a good seat, scope out the scene, or talk to someone and learn something about the place.

Being early allows you to be relaxed and completely comfortable as opposed to running through life in a hurry. Settle in before anyone else and have the mental edge that you’re prepared for anything.

5. Exercise More, Try Healthier Habits

Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But have you ever regretted a workout? One hundred percent of the time it makes you feel better and gives you the momentum to have a great day.

Try healthier habits. Go for a walk right when you get out of bed. Try a new vegetable once a week. Drink more water. Stand more. Replace dessert with fruit. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, try to go one day a month without coffee. Healthier habits ultimately lead to a happier life in more ways than you think.

6. Journal

Similar to talking about your problems, journaling is an excellent outlet for not only getting the thoughts out of your head but also to clarify your feelings. As you write, you’ll realize you actually didn’t understand what you were thinking. Writing helps that. Do it often.

7. Take Care of Something

Get a pet. If you’re not ready for a dog, then buy a few plants to take care of. This takes the attention off yourself and on to something that relies on you for livelihood. It will help put everything in perspective and relieve stress and exhaustion.

8. Meditate

This is such an overly-used cure-all, but meditation really does help with clarity of thinking and developing a sense of calm in your life. Researchers found that meditation “decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.[3]

It doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs cross, fingers in a circle, and saying “Oooommmmmm.” Meditating can take on whatever form you’re comfortable with. It can be taking a few deep breaths before you step out of your car, or it can be closing your eyes and thinking of your loved ones when you’re having a hard time.

Sometimes before bed, I’ll just close my eyes and envision a future I want for myself. I picture the people I love hugging me and saying “Congratulations.” For what? I don’t know, but I’m putting myself in the mindset to succeed.

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Final Thoughts

Dr. Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit:[4]

“The more you work on systems for reducing stress and excess decision-making, the more mental energy you’ll have.”

This is true in so many areas. Work on habits and routines that will eliminate the number of decisions you make. The more disciplined you are in these areas, the more freedom you will have to do the things you truly want and need. But also, understand how you are getting in your own way.

Author Tim Ferriss likes to ask himself, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” or “What are the stories I tell myself that interfere with self-love?”

Take a look at the actions and routines you structure your life around. Are there small tweaks you can make to get out of your own way? What would this look like if it were easy? Sometimes, asking yourself questions like these can lead to surprisingly simple solutions and answer the question of “why do I feel exhausted?”

As I said, everyone is struggling in their own way. How you manage your stress may differ completely from someone else. By being vulnerable and understanding that you have the ability to overcome this exhaustion, you can begin to find meaning. Exercise consistent positive habits and the momentum will attract more positive momentum. Oh, and get good sleep!

More Tips to Help You When You Feel Exhausted

Featured photo credit: Hernan Sanchez via unsplash.com

Reference

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