How To Avoid Burnout At Work

Burnout is a feeling of complete mental and physical exhaustion caused by high stress levels or overwork.

It is a dangerous condition because it can impact your health and increase the risk of some serious illnesses.

In this post, I’ll share the common burnout warning signs and share some useful strategies for avoiding burnout at work.

The Warning Signs of Burnout

The warning signs of burnout can vary between different people, but the most common signs are:

Physical illness

If you have been dealing with a persistent cold or stomach upset for many weeks, it could be a warning sign of burnout.

The stress of burnout will cause your immune system to become weaker, which increases the likelihood of illness and can make it difficult to shake off certain illnesses.

You may also experience unexplained headaches and back pain.

Feelings of stress or anxiety

The early stages of burnout often involve persistent feelings of stress and anxiety.

These conditions can manifest itself in many ways including:

  •   Insomnia
  •   Tense muscles
  •   Upset stomach and nausea
  •   Repetitive negative thoughts
  •   Low energy levels
  •   Irritability or hyper-vigilance
  •   Lack of concentration
  •   Excessive worrying and fear

Developing a negative and critical attitude at work

As you approach burnout, you might notice your personality changing.

Instead of being your normal easy-going self, you may suddenly become quite cranky and negative towards other people at work.

You won’t be as patient with others and may become hypercritical of your colleagues.

In some cases, you may also also become hypercritical of yourself.

Changed eating patterns

As you approach burnout, the way you eat food may change.

Some people find that they begin to skip meals or experience distracted eating (eating whatever is nearby without thinking about its nutritional content).

Others find they begin to overeat.

Lack of engagement at work

It’s common for people suffering from burnout to begin “switching off” while at work.

They will feel cynical about their job and may experience feelings of resentment towards others.

This sense of resentment often occurs because a person is feeling that their needs are not being met, which is an indication that burnout may occur.

Low energy and exhaustion

As a person’s risk of burning out increases, they will begin to feel emotional and physical exhaustion.

After work, you don’t feel like doing anything or going anywhere.

Activities like exercising, eating at a restaurant, or catching up with friends all feel too difficult.

What causes burnout?

There are several possible causes of burnout, but the most common are:

  •   Working extremely long hours
  •   Working for a business that is dysfunctional
  •   Not receiving recognition for your work
  •   Having unclear goals
  •   Working in an extremely boring and monotonous job
  •   Taking on the majority of the work and not receiving support from an employer and colleagues 

How to Avoid Burnout

Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use yo avoid burnout.

#1 – Separate your work and home life

Having some time away from work is crucial if you want to avoid burnout.

This can be difficult if your boss constantly calls you while you are at home or asks you to work from home.

Set some clear boundaries about your work and home life by refusing to work from home unless it is an absolute emergency.

#2 – Exercise every day

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and the risk of burnout.

It will give you some time to clear your head and provides a boost to your mood thanks to the release of “feel good” chemicals named endorphins.

Exercise is also a great opportunity to let any pent up frustrations out.

The best kinds of exercise will take you into nature, so riding a bike, going for a walk, swimming in the ocean, flying a kite, playing soccer and so on.

Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day.

#3 – Get plenty of sleep

As you sleep, the body performs several important biological tasks.

One of those tasks is the balancing of hormone levels in your body, including cortisol – which is the primary hormone responsible for stress.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, the body won’t have time to even out your cortisol levels, which will worsen any feelings of stress you are currently experiencing.

Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

#4 – Manage your time better

If you are stressed because you don’t have enough time to get everything done each day, re-assess how you are using the time.

Have you set your priorities?

Are there any ways you can free up more time for yourself?

Can you improve your time management skills or productivity levels?

#5 – Never skip your vacations

Think of vacations with loved ones as a “stress reset” button.

Vacations give you a chance to clear your head, enjoy time with the people you love, and explore the world.

A good vacation will re-energise your mind and body, greatly reducing the risk of burnout.

#6 – Learn to say “No”

Many people suffer from burnout because they are doing the work of other people.

If your boss, colleague, friends or family ask you to do work on their behalf, don’t immediately say yes.

Check if you have the time to take on the task before accepting. 

#7 – Work with purpose

One of the leading causes of burnout is the feeling that your work has no purpose.

If you feel this way about a job, it is easy to become disillusioned and bored.

If this sounds like you, take another look at the reasons why you do what you do.

Are you working to help others? Is it a stepping stone to a better job?

Is the job essential for providing security for your family’s finances?

Reflecting on these questions can give you a renewed sense of purpose.

Thanks for reading How To Avoid Burnout At Work.

For more articles on productivity and healthy work/life balance, be sure to bookmark the website!

author: Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international and domestic tax consultant who specialises in solving complex problems. As well as advising on tax matters, Stephen also enjoys exploring topics relating to physical and mental wellbeing. You can follow him on Twitter at SColeclough.


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