Advertising
Advertising

Published on April 17, 2020

Burnout from Work? 7 Research-Backed Strategies To Recover

Burnout from Work? 7 Research-Backed Strategies To Recover

Are you exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically, probably due to long-term, unresolved stress? Have you lost your drive to become productive?

Have your experienced changes in your sleep habits? Do you find it hard to focus?

Perhaps you are losing meaning in your work, and you are becoming pessimistic about life.

What you are experiencing is called ‘burnout.’

What is Burnout?

Here is how Mayo Clinic defined it:[1]

“A state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also includes a loss of personal identity and a sense of reduced accomplishment.”

Mayo Clinic also reiterated that burnout is not a medical diagnosis. A lot of experts believe some underlying conditions such as depression are responsible for burnout.

In addition, a report by Gallop shows that about 44 percent of employees think they are suffering from burnout. Sixty-three percent of the surveyed employees will take sick leave due to Burnout.[2]

What Are Some Common Symptoms of Burnout?

  • Showing a pessimistic perspective to life or work
  • Physical, emotional and mental exhaustion
  • Lower immunity to diseases or sicknesses
  • De-motivation
  • Lower productivity
  • Depleted energy levels

If you are having any of these symptoms, you might need to read further as I will show you seven researched-backed strategies to recover when you are burnout from work.

But before that, is there a connection between stress and Burnout?

What Is the Difference Between Burnout and Stress?

Burnout may emanate from long-term, unrelenting stress, but it is not the same as stress.

Stress incorporates overbearing pressures that take a toll on you mentally and physically. People who are stressed can feel better if they can bring everything into balance.

Burnout, on the other hand, is a state of feeling empty, absence of motivation, and mental exhaustion. When you are suffering from burnout, you do not see any hope in your situation.

While excessive stress is being drowned in responsibilities, burnout is a state of complete depletion.

Advertising

Here is another side to it.

While you are mostly aware when you are going through a lot of stress, for burnout, you do not realize when it occurs.

So how do you know when you are experiencing burnout?

You can follow these five stages.

What Are the Five Stages of Burnout?

Anyone can suffer from Burnout at any point in life. However, research conducted by NCBI indicated that the symptoms of burnout varied according to different stages of life among working men and women. Young men and women between the age of 20 and 35 years, as well as 55 years and above, are prone to burnout.[3]

The symptoms of burnout, just like any illness, differ from person to person. Nevertheless, in general, these are the five stages of burnout.

1. Honeymoon Stages

What is the honeymoon stage like?

At this phase, you are very excited about your work, and you are not experiencing any stress-related symptoms.

Do you remember your first day at work? Or the beginning of your new start-up?

Your job satisfaction level was high, and you were super-committed, energetic, and highly creative.

While you may notice predictable stresses on the job, you may discard implementing coping strategies to help you achieve a full life. You are super enthusiastic about your work, and you are trading off other aspects of your life.

Here is the theory behind this stage.

If you can establish coping strategies and maintain a work-life balance, you can live all your life in this honeymoon stage without end.

Here are some common symptoms to track:

Advertising

  • Unconstrained energy levels
  • Job Satisfaction
  • High level of commitment to a task
  • A steady stream of creativity
  • High levels of productivity

2. The Awakening Stage

What is the Awakening Stage of Burnout?

The awakening stage is when you begin to lose steam on your optimism. It is that stage when reality finally sets in. Your high expectation about that business or job is crashing down.

Not only that, but your needs are not also met, and you start to feel disconnected from your teammates. Starting with this disappointment, you will begin to see other symptoms.

Here are some of them:

  • Lack of Focus
  • Dissatisfaction on the job
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lower productivity
  • Insomnia or reduced sleep quality
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of memory
  • Headaches
  • Unusual heartbeats
  • Trading off of personal life
  • Change in appetite

You may also start feeling bored with your work or unusually tired.

3. Chronic Stress Stage

The third stage is the chronic stress stage. during this stage, you will experience a notable change in your stress levels – from losing motivation to frequent tiredness.

These are some common symptoms:

  • Continuous tiredness early in the morning.
  • Lack of hobbies
  • Anger
  • Transfer of aggression
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Social withdrawal
  • Escapist activities
  • Repeated lateness at work
  • Absenteeism
  • Apathy
  • Physical illness
  • Missed deadlines on project milestones
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Increased alcohol or sugar intake
  • Increased caffeine intake
  • Fear of being panicky
  • Feeling overburden or out of control

4. Burnout Stage

This stage is where all symptoms become severe. This is the exact stage people refer to when they talk about being burnout. At this stage, you will feel like it is just not possible to continue with your life.

Here are some symptoms:

  • Feeling empty on the inside
  • Self-doubt
  • Behavioral changes
  • Social Isolation
  • Getting obsessed about issues at work or in your life
  • Chronic headaches
  • Social isolation
  • Pessimism
  • Total neglect of personal needs
  • Increase in physical symptoms
  • Development of escapist mindset
  • Urge to disconnect from society
  • Desire to isolate from family and friends.

5. Habitual Burnout

This is the final stage. At this stage, the symptoms of burnout have become ingrained in your life to the extent that you may start experiencing physical or mental issues.

Here are some symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Chronic sadness
  • Chronic physical fatigue
  • Chronic mental fatigue
  • Burnout syndrome

So is there any hope if you find yourself in any of the stages?

While Burnout is curable, it demands that you accept your present reality and make a decision to change your lifestyle and mentality. You need to see your darkest moment as that phase that will enable you to discover your purpose in life.

If you are experiencing Burnout from work, here are ten research-backed strategies to help you regain your focus and productivity:

Advertising

7 Strategies to Help You Recover After Experiencing Burnout From Work

1. List Everything That Overwhelms You

It will amaze you that making a list is very therapeutic. The act of listing enables you to capture every negative thought and organize them in a form that you can better assess and understand.

Take an inventory of what you need to do daily, and then write those to-dos to avoid stressing yourself when you want to recall them. Highlight possible ways in which you can make each item less burdensome.

For instance, if you are writing a book, you can collaborate with other content writers to help prepare the table of content and proofread and edit the book so you do not overload yourself with excessive work.

Moreover, listing helps you maximize your resources by delegating tasks to the best hands.

2. Learn to Take a Break

What you do not take a break from will eventually break you.

According to Len Robinson:[4]

“Burnout does not happen all of a sudden. It usually develops over months or years. Therefore, you will need considerable time to develop coping strategies to recover from Burnout. If you can have fun as you make progress towards your goals, you will experience a happy-work life.”

So, as much as possible, have fun while you work.

3. Focus on Your Capabilities

You will always get tired when you work on tasks that do not match your skills.

Dr. Jim Harter, Ph.D. of Gallup, says that “workers with the highest level of engagement spend an average of four times as much hours performing tasks they excel at in comparison to what they don’t have skills for.”[5]

You enhance your capabilities when you spend time on activities that align with your skills. On the other hand, you will eventually get burned out from tasks that are beyond your strength.

4. Accept Your Weaknesses

It is not enough to focus on what you can do; you also need to accept that there are things you cannot do. You can lose your self-esteem and have your energy depleted when you undertake tasks that you are less qualified or trained for.

So do you have some tasks that you are less qualified for? Outsource them instead.

5. Establish a Formidable Support System

How do you outsource your weaknesses when you do not have a formidable support system? A strong support system such as your friends and colleagues at work can advise and encourage you when you are at your low ebbs.

Advertising

BJCEAP recommends six steps to establish a strong support system:[6]

  • Review your network and identify who can help
  • Attempt new activities to meet new people
  • Enroll in a book club
  • Appreciate important people in your life and let them know
  • Join a local association or work-related group.
  • Be willing to request for support.

Also, it is not enough to simply seek support. You should also strive to become your own best friend.

6. Learn to Say No

When you start to feel the symptoms of burnout from work, do not be timid in rejecting new commitments.

If you have established a strong support system, your team members will most likely understand when you are not capable of taking more jobs.

7. Control Your Usage of Devices and Internet

This is another factor that can make you experience burnout from work. You do not have to reply to all notifications on Facebook.

Is your smart device causing you to get burned out?

Find the time to unplug from the digital world and focus on more critical activities. You cannot get adequate sleep when you are too addicted to your smart devices. Sometimes, you need a rest from your gadgets so you can get back your life.

There is this story of a man who visited the Doctor to get tested for COVID-19 because he was showing symptoms.

Guess what the outcome of the test was?

The Doctor said, ‘Your test did not come out positive to Coronavirus, but you tested positive to Corona bad news.’

What you expose yourself to can impact your mental health. You need to prioritize your mental health as you engage your digital devices and the internet.

Conclusion

Do not say that you cannot. Do not say that it is not possible.

Now is the time to regain your focus and productivity if you are experiencing burnout from work.

More Tips for Dealing with Burnout

Featured photo credit: Shane via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

13 Ways to Develop Self-Directed Learning and Learn Faster delegating tasks How to Start Delegating Tasks Effectively (Step-by-Step Guide) How Long Does It Take to Learn a Language? Science Will Tell You Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

Trending in Restore Energy

1 5 Things That Will Help You Sleep Naturally 2 Feeling Fatigue? 3 Reasons Why And How to Fix It 3 The Effects of Stress on Your Body And Mind (You Never Knew) 4 7 Signs You’re Burnt out (And How to Bounce Back) 5 How to Recover From Burnout Quickly and Feel Better

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

Advertising

  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

Advertising

Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

Advertising

As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

Advertising

9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

Read Next