The signs of being burnt out are pretty obvious (at least, they are to those around you). You’re tired. You’re grumpy. You’re frazzled. You’re set off easily by little annoyances, and you no longer feel the love and joy for your work that you once did.
But the solutions for dealing with it are a little less so. Maybe you’ve tried the usual tactics—setting weekday lunches with friends, trying to relax on the weekends, and making sure to hit the gym at least a few times per week. But if you’ve been dealing with long-term stress or unhappiness that’s resulted in full-on burnout mode, you’ve likely found that even those moves don’t get you very far.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry: While it may seem like you have to change jobs or make a significant life change to get over the hurdle, there are smaller steps you can take to move from burnt out to back in the game. The four-step recovery program from Creative Boom features strategies for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed and over it—and while they’ll take a little more time than an hour on the treadmill, they’re definitely more effective.
Stage 1: Be Proactive
Burnout is often the result of issues in the workplace or problems with clients. In which case, be proactive and make the necessary changes to improve the situation. You’ll feel much better if you actually do something about it, rather than allowing things to get worse.
Do This Now: Think about the top two or three things that are really wearing on you. Is it a demanding boss? A problem employee? An overwhelming workload? Then, for each of those things, identify one thing that you could change about your current situation (even if it seems like it might be unrealistic). Chances are, there’s at least one thing you could ask for from your boss and co-workers that might make things better.
Stage 2: Find Support
Burnout can make you isolate yourself from the world. But instead of hiding under your duvet, turn to family and friends for support. Don’t be ashamed to admit that you’re suffering and share your problems with loved ones.
Do This Now: Ask a trusted colleague or a friend in your field to lunch, and share that you’ve been feeling burnt out. Trust us, you are certainly not alone in this feeling, and you’re likely to get sympathy (and smart strategies for coping in your specific world) from someone who’s been there before.
Stage 3: Reassess Your Life
Burnout can offer a silver lining by encouraging you to reassess your life in general. It can help you to reevaluate your goals, priorities, hopes, and dreams. It can make you discover what does and doesn’t make you happy and help you take positive steps towards a better existence.
Do This Now: This can seem like an overwhelming process, but try taking just one small step: Even a long conversation with a friend or taking one of our favorite career assessments can help you remember what you love, value, and want from work (and whether or not your current gig is providing it).
Stage 4: Take Time Out
Burnout sometimes requires a complete break from your working life. Therefore, use up any holiday entitlement you have to get away. Make sure you leave your laptop and mobile phone at home to completely recharge your batteries and get better.
Do This Now: Plan your next vacation from work, stat. Don’t have vacation time? Ask your boss for a few personal days with the promise that you’ll return to the office recharged and reenergized. Even if you can’t get out of town, a few work-free days to do whatever you’d like can have amazing benefits.
Tell us! How have you dealt with burnout in your career?