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When was the last time you took a mental health day? When was the last time you felt inspired by the work you do? And while we’re on the subject of asking questions, here’s another one: Do you feel a sense of failure and self-doubt? If the answer to the first two questions feels like a distant memory, and the third one hits home, you may be experiencing burnout at work.

It is very common for working individuals to feel burnt out at some point in their careers. In fact, 77% of workers experience burnout at their jobs, according to a survey (Fisher, n.d.). Sometimes, we get so caught up in work that we forget to take time for ourselves to relax and reset.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly is workplace burnout and how you can prevent it.

Recognizing Burnout: Signs and Symptoms

Burnout isn’t just about feeling tired or stressed; it’s a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive, prolonged, and unmanaged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Here are some common signs and symptoms of burnout:

1. Physical Exhaustion

While burnout is not classified as a medical condition, it can affect your physical health. This is because mental and emotional distress takes a toll on your physical health. This often presents itself in the form of persistent fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension. You may also experience changes in appetite or sleep patterns. All of these physical factors can decrease your immunity and, therefore, lead to an increase in illnesses, such as colds and flu.

2. Emotional Withdrawal

Burnout can lead to feelings of detachment, cynicism, and irritability. You may also experience becoming emotionally distant or disengaged from your work and colleagues.

3. Decreased Performance

It is no surprise that burnout often results in a decline in work performance and productivity. Tasks that once seemed manageable may now feel overwhelming, leading to procrastination and missed deadlines.

4. Lack of Motivation

You may lose interest in your work and struggle to find meaning or purpose in what you do. You may become apathetic or indifferent towards your responsibilities.

5. Increased Negativity

Burnout can fuel a sense of pessimism and negativity. You may have feelings of frustration, resentment, or dissatisfaction more frequently.

Strategies to Prevent Burnout

There are several ways to avoid burnout at work. It is important to note that no single strategy is more effective than others, and the best approach is a combination of various methods that work well for you. Here are a few of them:

1. Prioritize Self-Care

First and foremost, remember that self-care isn’t selfish–it’s essential. Just like you wouldn’t expect your car to run on an empty tank, you can’t expect yourself to perform at your best without proper care and maintenance. The key is to prioritize activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul; whether it’s getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.

2. Find Activities to Recharge

The easiest way to burn out is by working long hours with no time to unwind and reset. With that being said, the first step is to ensure your current working conditions allow you time for activities and hobbies. If that is not your current employment situation, you may have to re-assess and find one that offers work-life balance. Make time weekly for activities to help you de-stress and recharge for the next working week. These do not have to be exotic activities; something as simple as a game night with friends or reading your favorite book can do the trick. If you need some inspiration, check out this list of fun weekend activities.

3. Set Boundaries

In today’s always-on culture, it’s easy to feel like you need to be available 24/7. But the truth is, setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining your mental health and preventing burnout. Whether it’s designating specific times for work and personal life or turning off email notifications after hours, establishing clear boundaries will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for combating stress and promoting well-being. By practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or simply taking a moment to pause and reflect, you can cultivate greater resilience in the face of challenges and prevent burnout before it takes hold.

5. Seek Support

You don’t have to go through it alone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling with burnout, don’t hesitate to ask for support. Whether it’s talking to a trusted colleague, seeking guidance from a mentor, or accessing resources through your company’s Employee Assistance Program, there are plenty of options to help you navigate through the challenges and prioritize your well-being. The Florida Department of Health also offers helpful resources for additional support and guidance.

6. Take Regular Breaks

Research has shown that regular breaks can improve productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. So, don’t be afraid to step away from your desk and recharge your batteries throughout the day. Whether it’s taking a short walk, grabbing coffee from the kitchen, or simply closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths, make sure to give yourself permission to rest and rejuvenate.

7. Reduce Your Load

Don’t be shy to seek help when your work list becomes unmanageable and you feel overwhelmed. You might be able to delegate tasks to others or ask your management team for additional support to get caught up. Most leaders appreciate when you proactively communicate any hurdles instead of waiting until things collapse or miss deadlines to ask for help. It might feel daunting at first, but your stress levels will reduce significantly when you no longer feel like your list is unaccomplishable.

Take Charge of Your Health

Burnout does not happen overnight; recovery requires time, patience, and shifting focus to self-care. Take proactive steps to manage stress more effectively and lead a more balanced life. Remember, you are worth more than your productivity or your job title. Take care of yourself, and the rest will fall into place.


Fisher, J. (n.d.). Workplace burnout survey. Deloitte.

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