Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Burn Out a Work

Submitted by amanda.dumsch@… December 18, 2023
Image of a match burning

Burnout often presents with three tell-tale symptoms. 1. Emotional exhaustion – you might have moments where you feel temporarily re-energized but then it is quickly swallowed up by an overall feeling of exhaustion. 2. Cynicism or feeling disengaged from your work – a feeling that none of what you do really matters anyway. 3. Self-doubt – burnout can also present by feeling like you are not qualified or good enough to perform the tasks of your job.

Burnout results from a combination of what you do and organizational structure. There are things that you can do to feel better, but you also have to find an organization and a leader that helps contribute to your wellbeing. More and more research is pointing to the fact that your individual level of burnout is deeply impacted by the type of relationship you have with your direct supervisor. 

Four things to help combat burnout:

1. Self-energy Audit
The first thing to do is to help understand yourself better.  Most people think they have a pretty good sense of what they enjoy, but often have some blind spots. One way to clarify this is through a self-energy audit using an app to track your energy and interests throughout the day. One some have recommended is “How We Feel”. In sum, determine what gives you energy and when you have the most energy. 

2. Create a personal toolbox of self-care rituals 
As an example, a weekly meeting you find challenging – create some rituals that help you prepare. Or if you are feeling really stressed, take a 10-minute walk. Create your own toolbox list ahead of time to prepare for situations that stress you. That way you don’t have to overthink and can just turn to your trusted tools. 

3. Find ways to refill your energy before hitting empty. 
What energizes you? How do you refill your energy? Some people report working out or talking to best friends as energy boosters. Find your go-to techniques for filling your bucket.

4. Find joyful ways to help others. 
Helping others and practicing empathy can also be a way to help pull an individual out of a self-focused lens and see the bigger picture to help find joy in connecting with others. Even trying to do a few small acts of kindness a week can be really helpful. 

5. Assess ways to deal with demands/control at work. 
People who have too much demand and/or don’t feel like they have control over their schedule often get more burnt out. Also, employees who feel like that don’t have collegial or managerial support often experience high levels of burn out.  Sometimes it is important for people to set clear boundaries in terms of online connectivity. Self-awareness can lead to better self-advocacy in professional settings.  

In addition to these tips, there is growing evidence that having a gratitude mindset at work is beneficial. Gratitude prompts at the end of the workday to reflect on what went well and who you were thankful for can help you set a more positive tone. 

Another frequently mentioned tip for combatting burn out is being able to detach from work at the end of the day.  Many people struggle with this, thought, so it might be helpful to write down a comprehensive to-do list to tackle the next morning. This can also be a helpful brain dump at the end of your workday –it’s easy to implement and effective. 


Related posts: