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How to Avoid Workplace Burnout

Tuesday April 18th, 2017

Estimated time to read: 3 minutes

No matter how much you enjoy your job, it can’t be denied that workplace burnout happens. We spend over half of our waking hours at work, which can become taxing on our minds and bodies. When you’re dedicated to your job, it’s sometimes all too easy to put your own needs aside in order to succeed at work. But burnout doesn’t always have to be the result of dedication to your job. A healthy balance is possible if you set priorities and put your self-care at the top of your to-do list.

Before you can identify workplace burnout, it’s important to know what it looks like. Burnout is the result of excessive and prolonged stress, which results in not just physical exhaustion, but emotional and mental exhaustion as well. It can cause you to lose your motivation and feel overwhelmed, hindering your ability to function in all areas of your life. Burnout can leave you feeling hopeless, resentful and defeated.

Workplace burnout is a major hurdle to overcome if you’ve been overstressed and overworked. So here are a few ways to prevent it and stay energized and focused at work.

Learn to Say “No”

Our society has been conditioned to hate the word no. We don’t want to hear it and we’re often afraid of what will happen when we say it to others, especially our bosses. But the word no is a necessary tool in your vocabulary to prevent burnout.

Learning to say no is about knowing your limits and recognizing your tipping point. No one can read your mind or guess when you need a break if you don’t speak up. It’s important to establish boundaries to prevent overload and burnout. And the only way you can establish those boundaries is by saying no occasionally.

If you’re in a leadership position, you have to learn to accept that you cannot complete everything by yourself. Say no by delegating projects to members of your team to relieve some of the burden of work and keep your sanity. Great leaders recognize the strengths of each member of their team and delegate work to ensure that every project is completed efficiently and on time.

It can be uncomfortable at first to say no. You want to be a team player, and someone who goes that extra mile. But you cannot be all things to all people. By saying no when you’ve reached your limits, you are better able to devote your best efforts to the tasks you are already working on. It takes a lot of self-awareness and strength of character to give up being the “yes man,” but developing and improving those admirable traits will help ensure that you avoid workplace burnout.

Give Yourself a Break

We live in a society that is full of people trying to “one up” each other. Everyone is trying to be the fastest, the freshest, and the most powerful. While it’s important to have goals to strive towards, the competitive mentality can often result in people skipping breaks and forfeiting vacations to make sure they don’t fall behind anyone else at work.

You may be physically getting the job done while giving up your breaks and vacations, but you’re likely headed towards burnout. Breaks and vacations are necessary for the brain and the body to reset and recharge, helping to keep you focused and energized. Without a regular break during your workday, you actually limit your ability to work effectively. And without a true vacation from work every so often, it’s much easier for stress to build up and cause you to feel dissatisfied with your job.

So, the next time you consider working through lunch or cashing in your vacation days, consider the toll that may take on your mind and body.


In all relationships, communication is key. Workplace relationships are no different. Burnout can sometimes happen if you are dissatisfied with your work, pay, or environment.

One way to counter that frustration is to maintain open communication with your peers and employers. If something about your job is making you miserable, respectfully talk to your management team to see if changes can be made. Don’t just stay in a negative environment until it wears you down. More often than not, your employers don’t know you’re unhappy if you don’t say so and they are willing to accommodate your requests to help you. They want you to be successful and should recognize that a positive environment and fair working conditions are necessary to help you do your best work.

If you work at a company where such communication is not encouraged, it may be worth considering a new job to ensure that you won’t be in a constant cycle of displeasure and burnout.

Put Yourself First

Your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing are important. Don’t wait until you’re starting to feel the effects of burnout to focus on your self-care. Make yourself the number one priority. Give your mind and body ample time to rest and recharge by taking regular breaks and vacations – you deserve them. Employers offer paid time off and breaks to help their employees recharge and focus on themselves. Maintain healthy working relationships by accepting your limits and communicating your needs and boundaries. By putting your self-care first, you will be much less likely to experience the effects of workplace burnout.

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