July 7, 2015

Low to moderate levels of stress are not only good but a necessary part of achievement and healthy development. When stress reaches excessive levels, however, it is a destructive force. Over long periods, it will almost undoubtedly produce the dreaded burnout stage: a feeling of complete mental and physical exhaustion commonly attributed to a job.

Whats worse is burnout can be difficult to overcome given its deep and systematic nature. Among other physical effects, high stress over long periods disrupts our immune system, sleep patterns, cognitive function, eating habits, and hormone levels. The emotional and psychological effects are equally powerful. They can manifest themselves as overall sadness, weakened self perception, and ironically, an attitude that is counter productive for making much needed changes. Luckily, when burnout happens, we have options. Here are 6 ways to confront it:


If you do not exercise regularly, you should. Albeit a stressor in of itself, physical exercise can positively stimulate your body and work to counteract many of the adverse chemical  effects caused by workplace burnout. In addition, an exercise routine can enhance self-perception through improved body composition and appearance. Yet, not all exercise routines induce the same bodily response and overexercise can actually amplify burnout. A regimen combining both cardiovascular (e.g. running) and muscular development (i.e. weightlifting) oriented training will likely generate the most benefits.

Minimize Outside Stress

Workplace burnout is produced by an overabundance of stress originating from work, home or a combination of the two. Assess whether there are any contributing stressors outside of work. Because burnout is by definition total exhaustion, more complex personal issues can feel impossible to resolve in a timely manner or at all. Therefore, take immediate steps to eliminate the stressors that you are confident in confronting and require little energy. At the very least, begin formulating a plan for alleviating major issues.

Find Support

Our conviction, decisiveness and productivity are all lessened during burnout phases. This makes it harder to form a plan and act on it. Support from one or more sources can be a powerful force in moving forward. Friends, family and/or a mental health specialist may be able to offer clarity and coping mechanisms. Trusted co-workers can provide additional support as well. However, there should be limitations on how you use a co-worker’s support for reasons of professionalism and a potential connection to your performance on the job. Your supervisor is likely another person you should work with if burnout is due in part to a problem with job expectations or contributing personal issues of a serious nature.

Manage Your Sleeping And Eating Habits

The burnout state is one that produces inertia among bodily systems. As this state persists, it becomes more difficult to maintain an adequate diet or sleep schedule. The result is negative health effects, diminished resiliency and ultimately the perpetuation of burnout itself. This means that strictly enforcing positive changes to your diet and sleep schedule are essential for breaking the cycle.

Rediscover Your Passion At Work

Many of us choose a job because we are passionate about the type of work. With burnout, our passion and the energy to perform is lessened or lost entirely. Whether the causes are an increased workload, new job duties, or unknown performance expectations, rediscovering this drive is necessary for salvaging your job. Thus, search for opportunities to better understand or change your work environment and job description.

Assess Your Job’s Worth

A job determines much of our lives whether we like it or not. Beyond deciding monetary power and time availability, it influences the level of mental and emotional resources we have to pursue non-work related passions. A stressful work environment that produces burnout will eventually become unbearable and cascade into all areas of your life. Simply said, a job is important but burnout is no way to live.

Countless people face burnout every year due to their jobs. The effects can be dramatic, widespread and actually reduce the ability to make positive changes. There are still many ways to confront it while maintaining your job. Just remember that burnout is not sustainable and if you cannot overcome this state in your current position, it is likely time to move on.

Inter-Connect is a leading employment agency within the Tri-State region of Illinois, Missouri and Iowa. Throughout our firm’s 20 year history, we have helped candidates find the best positions for their individual success.

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