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Last Updated on September 15, 2021

7 Signs You’re Burnt out (And How to Bounce Back)

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7 Signs You’re Burnt out (And How to Bounce Back)

If you are in a fairly stable career, the likelihood that you’ve experienced feeling burnt out at some point is quite high. We all have moments where we get tired of doing the same thing, day in and day out. Fortunately, there are ways to get out this funk.

Burnout can happen to any of us. It can happen as a direct result of a toxic work environment, or it can creep up on us as we pour all of our energy into doing the work that we love. Either way, when signs of burnout become apparent, they tend to look the same. Furthermore, adjustments must be made to reverse burnout and to prevent it again in the future.

Behaviors and habits that can lead to burnout include staying up long nights working on projects, saying yes to every request or opportunity, taking on extra work from co-workers, and decreasing connections with your family members and friends outside of work.

Outside forces, such as ineffective leadership, unclear expectations, a toxic work culture, a persistently high workload that blocks work-life balance, and no room for growth can all raise stress levels and add to burnout.

Keep in my mind that burn out may mimic other conditions such as depression or anxiety disorder. Please see your trusted doctor or mental health provider to rule out any of these conditions.

Keep reading for some key signs and symptoms of burnout:

1. Poor Performance and Loss of Self-Confidence

Noticeable declines in work performance and confidence in your ability to complete previously mastered assignments are signs of being burnt out.

The pace of the work environment can seem faster and more demanding than ever. The goal of you doing world-class work may diminished to hopes of you barely getting by. You may have decided that staring into space or searching for a new job seems like a better alternative to working.

Poor work performance can become a routine and often leaves the person wondering how this became a problem in the first place. You may even think that your boss will call you out on your performance sooner or later.

How to Bounce Back:

Think back to the motivation you had when you were hired or when you were getting your job done with ease. Think about your thoughts and actions that allow you to perform well. The ability to perform at or around this level is still within reach.

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Make a plan to eliminate distractions at work. Also, prior to coming to work, make sure you are well rested and are eliminating interactions that drain your energy levels.

2. Pessimism

Talking about the amazing work you do has given way to negative talk. Constantly complaining over small tasks that didn’t bother you in the past is a sign of pessimism. Your co-workers may even point out that you have been increasingly negative with your communication lately.

Your outlook on life, especially work, is in the dumps. It’s harder to find positive things to say.

How to Bounce Back:

Even in the midst of feeling burnt out, your time should be spent on forward-moving thoughts.

Change the way you are looking at your current situation. Your body will do everything in its power to make sure that your actions are in alignment with your mindset and thoughts.

Therefore, thoughts that are negative and self-defeating will need to undergo a productive reframe. A high level of awareness must be initiated. Coaching yourself through negative thinking can be the first step in awareness.

When you catch yourself having negative thoughts, first ask yourself “How does this make me feel?” Then, decide if those feelings will push you closer towards your goals and priorities or keep you from taking action.

If your thoughts are not forward-moving, ask yourself what thinking and feeling the opposite of this looks like? It may seem awkward at first, but keep at it until positive thoughts are at the forefront of your thinking once again.

If this doesn’t work, try implementing a long-term gratitude practice. Studies have shown that increasing a sense of gratitude is a major factor in determining overall well-being and optimism[1].

3. Feeling Unfulfilled

Sometimes, the workplace is known for being a fast-paced, high-stress environment. Feeling like you’re part of the team and your contributions matter can really help increase your level of fulfillment.

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When our talents and strengths are highlighted in an environment, we will thrive as we get things done.

When we are constantly left out of vital conversations, we will feel irrelevant and as if things are happening to us and not on behalf of us.

How to Bounce Back:

Talk to the person in charge and discuss your concerns. Confiding in a trusted and knowledgeable co-worker prior to meeting with your boss will help to make your communication with your boss fair and objective.

Set goals and deadlines with your boss or team leader to help increase your fulfillment. Follow up with your plan of action on your goals.

Keep in mind that there will be some level of compromise, but making your boss aware of your viewpoint and feelings is a major step in feeling fulfilled and feeling like a contributing member of your team.

4. Poor Sleep Quality

Staying up late at night, tossing and turning, thinking about your day’s work can really affect your sleep quality. Studies have shown that just a few hours of missed sleep is detrimental to our performance and mental capacity[2].

How to Bounce Back:

If you’re burnt out, try setting a bedtime routine and stick to it. Make sure that your bedroom environment is supportive of a good night’s sleep[3].

Bedtime routine when feeling burnt out

    Social media never sleeps, and it’s best to cut back or eliminate your social media time for about 1 hour before you go to bed. Blue light interferes with your ability to feel sleepy and messes with your sleep cycle[4]. Your electronics can be set to switch to a softer light prior to bedtime.

    5. Dread

    The thought of work sends you into a tailspin of negative thoughts and bodily sensations. You wonder if this will ever end, and the amount of tension in your neck is at an all-time high.

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    The feeling of dread can make you retreat from your daily activities to ruminate on the idea of returning to work. Feelings of dread steals valuable time.

    How to Bounce Back:

    Develop a routine to relax and practice deep breathing. Stress management is key when experiencing burnout.

    Consider a short breathing exercise that you can practice at work if dread or overwhelm creeps in. Go into an empty room or the bathroom, close your eyes, and take 10 deep breaths. Control your breathing as you inhale and fully exhale.

    Notice what time of the day you are needing to step away to take a breath and start scheduling your routines.

    Neck massages at bedtime or therapeutic massages may also help to relax your body and prepare you for the work week ahead. Keep in mind that self care is a necessity.

    6. Lashing out

    You notice that you are short-tempered and lash out at your loved ones more than usual. When you are feeling burnt out, you may find yourself less patient about certain things and snapping at your loved ones.

    You know they don’t deserve this treatment, and you want to get this behavior in check so that you can restore the loving, supportive environment you are used to having.

    How to Bounce Back:

    Be aware that your loved ones may not understand how your work environment is affecting you.

    Consider how you would feel if you were the recipient of irritable interactions when you didn’t have the whole picture of what was happening.

    Take time to explain your situation with your support system. Also, seek services through your work or independently in order to preserve the relationships within your support system.

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    7. Exhaustion

    Does the phrase “this job is sucking the life out of me” ring a bell? Mental exhaustion is totally apparent when work has taken its toll on you.

    Being too tired to do simple house chores or attend events that you once loved is a sign of exhaustion.

    How to Bounce Back:

    Rethink your priorities, and set small goals to take action daily on your priorities. If your priorities include keeping a clean living area or hanging out with your friends once a week, stick to your plans.

    You will find that your mood is improved, and you are not as drained once you are doing things in alignment with your goals and priorities.

    The Bottom Line

    Feeling burnt out can creep up on you. It can be caused by personal behaviors, habits, or toxic work environments. Regardless of the factors that lead to burnout, the signs are the same.

    Awareness is the first step of knowing what is happening. The next step is taking action based on the specific signs you are displaying.

    Recovery from burnout may look like identifying the culprit that caused you to feel burnt out so that you can continue making progress in your work.

    Recovery can also require you to make a strategic exit from your current situation to restore your peace of mind and fully recover—and never look back.

    More on How to Stop Feeling Burnt out

    Featured photo credit: Niklas Hamann via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Mary Stewart

    Mary Stewart is a wellness coach. She helps successful professionals and entrepreneurs to take back control of their life and work.

    7 Signs You’re Burnt out (And How to Bounce Back)

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    Published on November 30, 2021

    Entrepreneurial Burnout: 6 Ways to Avoid And Overcome It

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    Entrepreneurial Burnout: 6 Ways to Avoid And Overcome It

    Burnout became an especially painful issue during the pandemic when the majority of people worked from home, finding it difficult to draw the line between work and private life. However, entrepreneur burnout has been less discussed, despite evidence that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk of burning out.[1]

    It may seem that as the boss, you are more in control of your time and work duties. Feeling stressed? Take a day off. Don’t feel like doing something? Give the task to someone else. But in reality, the responsibility of leading a company weighs heavy on many company owners.

    In addition, when you’re passionate about growing your business, it can be tricky to notice the symptoms of burnout. It may take long months or even years of putting yourself through survival mode before you notice that your body or mind has raised a white flag.

    The tips compiled here will help you avoid entrepreneur burnout and tackle already existing burnout symptoms, like exhaustion, sleep problems, irritability, weakened immune system, and others. However, if you feel that these have already become serious issues, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor or a psychotherapist in addition to following these tips.

    1. Find a Reliable Business Partner

    There’s a reason why most startups nowadays have at least two or three people on the founding team. Starting and growing a business is a challenging endeavor and can become a gargantuan task if you sign up to do it alone. Even if it may seem doable at first, new responsibilities, needs, and issues will arise as your company grows.

    If you’re lucky, you already have a trustworthy partner to share the highs and lows of managing a business. If you’re going at it solo but would like to find a business partner, look for someone who:

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    • you trust and, ideally, have already worked with, either as colleagues or co-founders;
    • has a complementary skillset and temper;
    • has similar work habits and ethics;
    • will be equally invested in the business, both financially, practically, and emotionally.

    Rihards Piks, the co-founder of on-demand supplement fulfillment service Supliful, shares that he and his business partner Martins were childhood friends and had already worked on several business ideas together before Supliful. Their close-knit partnership played a crucial role when their previous business was facing bankruptcy: “When we decided to take out personal loans to save our business from going under, we both took an equal share of the risk – and an equal share of the loan. Neither Martins nor I became a tag-along co-founder.”[2]

    2. Set Your Priorities as Soon as Possible

    When starting your business, the list of tasks and plans seems endless, and it’s clear as day that it’s not humanly possible to attend to all of them. That’s why priority setting is so important when you’re a company owner. In other words, take small but focused steps in the right direction.

    If your company is still at a very early stage, prioritize the tasks that help you create a Minimum Viable Product or MVP to kick your business off and start attracting customers. An MVP is the most basic version of your business idea that can operate. Gather the first clients, and get valuable feedback.

    If you’re leading an already established business, think about slowly transferring operational tasks to others, keeping the focus on company goals and other crucial aspects of your business.

    Jonna Piira, the founder of Kali, worked on too many projects until she was forced to take some time off due to an unfortunate fall down the stairs. That’s when she realized she was experiencing entrepreneur burnout and decided to take a critical look at her list of priorities: “I reviewed everything that I was doing. I listed all of my commitments from most fulfilling to least. I then reviewed how much time each commitment was taking each week. Then I cut out the items at the bottom of my list.”[3]

    3. Delegate Instead of Micromanaging

    First-time founders are at the highest risk of entrepreneur burnout simply because they operate in high uncertainty and thus, feel they have to be responsible for every aspect of the business and control everything. More experienced business owners know that it’s impossible—and unnecessary—to participate in every process and decision within the company.

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    Instead of trying to control everything, follow these tactics:

    • Hire great people and trust them to fulfill their responsibilities.
    • Remember the list of your priorities and focus on them instead of constantly checking your team’s performance.
    • If necessary, schedule weekly or monthly meetings with different teams and employees to stay in the loop about the most critical processes.
    • Delegate straightforward manual tasks to freelancers (e.g., from platforms like Fiverr or Upwork).
    • Prepare documentation to streamline how processes run within the company (more on this in the next section).

    Toms Panders, co-founder and CEO of ad tech startup Setupad, said: “Prior to launching Setupad, I had spent almost 10 years in the advertising industry, so I felt that I knew how to do things the right way and wanted to participate in every decision made within the company. However, as the company was quickly growing, I realized that I must release the reins and trust my team if I want to stay sane and avoid burning out. I also realized that micromanaging is an overhead cost. I prefer to invest in improving the hiring process and education.”

    4. Document Processes and Guidelines

    To avoid having to participate in every process within the company, it’s a smart move to streamline your company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) as soon as possible. These are the documented processes specific to your industry or type of work and describe the steps necessary to complete tasks according to industry regulations.

    SOPs are crucial for running a smooth business operation and for onboarding new employees as swiftly as possible. Following such step-by-step documentation, anyone can complete tasks and lead basic projects.

    When starting a small business, it may seem that SOPs aren’t necessary, but as your company grows, you’ll see that such documentation saves your valuable time that you’d have to spend mentoring instead of tending to other business goals. Now, this is not to say that SOPs substitute all human interaction during onboarding and delegating tasks, but they are a huge help and time-saver.

    5. Use Apps That Save Time and Automate Tasks

    Automation can help your business scale without you having to be involved in the mundane and repetitive part of it. Whenever you feel like you’re spending too much time doing something manually, check if there isn’t an app to do it for you! Chances are, there’s already existing technology that will solve your problem and automate processes without requiring much effort and time from you or your team, while you focus on creating value for your clients.

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    For example, there’s no need to manage and assign tasks manually and control who’s responsible for what when there are so many great project management apps out there. Why create attendance shifts and issue invoices manually when effective time management tools can do it for you? Many of these tools offer free trials, so you can test them out before committing to a purchase.

    Julia Gifford, co-founder of PR and content marketing agency Truesix shared with us: “I can’t emphasize how much time and nerves I saved when I switched from manually creating invoices in Google Docs to using invoicing software. It seemed inconsequential at first, which is why it took so long to make the switch. But it’s the little things that are done automatically that really ended up making a difference – like setting the date, due date, calculating totals, calculating VAT. It has made invoicing so much faster, not to mention with significantly fewer errors. Now I don’t dread this task every month like I used to, and am a much happier person for it.”

    6. Nourish Your Life Outside of Work

    Here’s a universal truth that many entrepreneurs have learned the hard way: it’s rarely only work that causes entrepreneur burnout. Usually, it’s a combination of different external factors, lifestyle aspects, and personality traits.

    For one, the health of your mind is directly linked to the health of your body. Neglecting physical activities, eating unhealthy food, sleeping too little, smoking, and drinking too much—all these contribute to burnout.

    If you experience stress, it’s crucial to learn to deal with it healthily, whether it’s through meditation, sports, massage, or something else that relaxes you. In addition, make sure you take sufficient breaks and exercise or at least take a walk also during work hours.

    Armands Broks, the founder of fintech company TWINO, shares how he experienced burnout back in 2017: “I had to turn my company around and basically start from scratch. As burnout wasn’t a widely discussed topic back then, I went through it all alone. This experience taught me that to maintain mental health, all areas of life need to be in balance. You cannot focus only on work, neglecting your body or your emotions. If you cannot hold that balance, getting burned out is only a matter of time.”[4]

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    That said, many passionate and ambitious entrepreneurs and especially startup founders find it hard to slow down and stop working when they still feel they could do so much. Armands Broks told us, “One of the difficult decisions I had to make was handing over the reins of my business to another person. I delegated my operational responsibilities, deciding to focus only on business strategy and growth agenda.”

    Learning from his struggles, Armands has emphasized his company’s employee wellbeing strategy, placing even greater emphasis on mental health. For example, employees are allowed to take some days off for the sake of their mental health or simply resting.

    Watch Out for Entrepreneur Burnout

    Entrepreneur burnout can creep up on people who are ambitious and excited about what they do. In addition, entrepreneur burnout doesn’t happen only when things aren’t going well. Many company founders running successful businesses can be just as susceptible to this modern plague.

    On the bright side, experiencing burnout often teaches a valuable lesson and forces people to switch to more balanced and healthy lifestyles. If you feel burned out now right now, follow these tips and hang in there! Chances are, you’ll come out of this stronger, calmer, and with a new set of priorities.

    More Tips For Entrepreneurs

    Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions via unsplash.com

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