It seems like lately, more and more people are feeling burned out at work. Burnout, or the overwhelming feeling of mental and physical exhaustion, even affects those who typically enjoy their jobs. The problem has become so widespread that companies are reporting that they are facing an employee burnout crisis.

With the economic pressures rising and endangering our social needs and the relaxation we all seek (but never seem to have time to find), it seems we’re all exhausted.

But being burnt out does not necessarily mean you need a new job. As a career coach, I have had many clients come to me outlining signs of burnout and thinking they need to do a 180 flip on their entire career. While that may be the case for some people, that isn’t always the only solution. Burnout means you need to slow down and take care of yourself so that you can not only love your job again, but be happier in your non-work time as well.

While I work with clients who are on the hunt for clarity on their career path, or a new job, I also have found it’s necessary to tackle their burnout, as it’s a huge block to their purpose and next step forward.

Here are 9 tips to try out for yourself.

1. Acknowledge that you are burnt out

You must first acknowledge that you have reached burnout. Some key indicators are mental and physical exhaustion induced by repeated pressures and stresses in your life. If you feel drained and unable to complete tasks, and if you feel as though your life-force battery is running dangerously low, then you may be burnt out. One indicator of burnout is that after a long night’s sleep, you don’t wake up feeling rested. Psychology Today listed out the telltale signs of burnout as the following:

Chronic fatigue


Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and focus

Increased illness

Loss of appetite



If you read through this list and feel it resonates closely with your current state, it’s likely time to recharge and start planning your next steps. If you are feeling these symptoms strongly, and it is affecting your life beyond work, it may be worthwhile to explore professional mental health options.

2. Talk to your boss

Don’t be afraid to talk with HR or your boss about your burnout. As mentioned, the burnout phenomenon is well known, and they are likely to sympathize with your plight and will work with you on a solution.

Before you head into the conversation, have a plan in place and already have a few options for what would help you most. If that looks like being removed from a specific project or applying for a leave of absence, have your idea in mind along with a few other options handy. Walking in prepared with solutions will show your manager you are serious and want to take action, rather than that you are simply looking to vent frustrations. Instead of saying “I’m burnt out,” you can consider approaching the conversation like this:

“I wanted to bring something up with you that feels vulnerable to admit, but my hope is that you can help me come to some solutions that will make me perform even better for the company. I’ve been feeling a more severe sense of burnout, and I wanted to see what my options were to refresh my mind so that I can keep contributing to the best of my ability. I read the employee handbook and took a look at my benefits, and here’s what I’m thinking I could suggest: [enter suggestion…] What do you think?”

During your conversation, consider also emphasizing how much you enjoy working there, but suggest that you might benefit from some time off. If they are good employers, they will understand. If they value you and if you approach the situation with respect and professionalism, they will want to work with you to try to find a solution to keep you happy at your job.

3. Take some time off

One of the only ways to properly recover is to detach yourself from your work environment for a while. Taking a vacation could in fact be the thing that saves your career to bring you back to rock-star mode.

Work within your abilities and means. Although not all of us are provided a two-week paid vacation, most established corporations and companies provide some sort of time off for their employees. Knowledge is power, so do some research and find out. Employee handbooks and HR are the best resources for this.

Try this route first and foremost so that you can still pay your bills while recalibrating and reenergizing yourself. If not, no problem. Just take a shorter vacation.

But whatever you do, take one. People who take vacations are proven to have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life and more motivation to achieve goals upon returning to work. It isn’t just about work; overall well-being is improved and—get this—women who take vacations are reportedly more happy in their marriages than those who don’t take time off.

Whether you take a couple days off, a week off, or two weeks off, it is much-needed time so you can get back into your groove and regain the energy and enthusiasm that you once had for your job.

4. Love your job again

During your time off, you will find yourself immersed in precious moments of much-needed sleep, relaxation and recalibration. It is also a good time to discover ways you can avoid burnout when you return to the office.

A great place to start is by doing some intentional reflection and enjoying the benefits of journaling.

Once you are on your time off, take a couple hours every day to reflect on reasons why you are grateful for your job. The scientific benefits of gratitude are real, so try to bring this habit with you even after your break. Trying to deliberately shift your thinking from negative thoughts to more positive ones can help improve your outlook. One thing to note, in one gratitude study it was found that it’s actually the lack of negative emotional words, not the abundance of positive words, that improved mental health. So, if you struggle to think of highly positive ideas to start, simply ensure what you are writing isn’t overly negative. Words influence feelings … and your feelings matter, my friend.

If you need help getting started, remember why you took the job in the first place, and recall the enthusiasm and energy that you once had. While it certainly may be on the depletion-side now, it is not too late to regain it, especially if you can shift your focus to reasons why you are grateful for your job. If you are dead set on getting a new job, use this gratitude practice to notice what aspects of your current job you do enjoy, and be sure to bring those into your job hunt.

5. Know your limits

Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire way to get burnt out, and it is also the easiest way to get bitter toward your boss or your work generally. Ask yourself, Am I over-exerting myself at work? Get really honest and curious about where you’re saying “yes,” tipping yourself over the edge of your capacity.

When you are burnt out, it may feel difficult to make decisions, largely due to what is happening in your brain. The amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, actually has an increase in grey and white matter when battling burnout, depression or anxiety. This increase in matter clouds your ability to make decisions.

This is where list-making steps in and has the capacity to be helpful in taking action and moving out of burnout and back into joyful living.

In your journal, with a colored pen of choice, write down your official duties at work and only what you need to do in your position. Now, in a different color, continue that list of tasks that you do not necessarily need to do and that stress you out, but you do them anyway because you find it difficult to say no.

After you visually see all of the extra and unnecessary work you have been doing, make a commitment to yourself to start tactfully saying “no” as a way to honor your limits. If you are preparing to have a conversation with your boss, consider completing this activity first. You can then walk in with a list of tasks where you have been going outside of your swim lane and talk through ways to get your role responsibilities back on track.

6. Don’t be afraid to say no

Do you ever feel obligated to always say “yes,” just because you are afraid of saying no? Perhaps you are afraid of appearing as though you can’t do the job, or are afraid of appearing rude or unprofessional. Either way, there are major psychological benefits to saying no when necessary.

Admittedly, it is difficult to say no, especially if saying it to a boss or co-worker. But it is even more difficult to say yes and then be unable to do the job to the best of your ability, or compromise your health and well-being in the meantime, which leads to burnout.

Fortunately, there are healthy ways to say “no” in a way that do not make anyone question your ability but, on the contrary, makes them respect your boundaries and your honesty.

If you phrase the “no” in a way that emphasizes your other commitments or your concern to take on a task that you cannot finish to your best potential, then your boss will admire your honesty. If you want to show that you can do it, perhaps word it with something like, “I would be glad to, however I am currently fulfilling x, y and z commitments, and I would be unable to finish your request on time. Is it possible to deliver this any later? If so, I’d be happy to do it!”

There are a multitude of ways to say no without seeming rude or unprofessional, so prepare a few lines in advance so that, if an overwhelming request comes your way, you are prepared to say no if you need to.

7. Organize your desk

This may seem counterintuitive because it seems like an extra work-related task but, in the long run, it will actually help you work more productively and with less stress.

During your time off, try to devote an hour to organizing your desk and your papers. If you work in an office, pick a day where you can stay for an extra hour to organize your space. An organized desk has been shown to increase productivity, and feelings of productivity generally reduce the feeling of burnout. Research has also found a correlation between clutter and increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and we could all use less of that.

8. Throughout your work day, take time to unwind

While you are working, whether from home, in an office or in a restaurant, be sure to take frequent breaks throughout the day and slow down a little bit when you feel the need. A recent study has shown that taking breaks throughout the day can increase your mental well-being, as well as your productivity. Furthermore, one Harvard study found that, if you face a mental or creative blockage, taking a small walk can reignite your mind. What a great excuse to take a stroll.

Your body has a wisdom of its own, so listen to it. And use your breaks wisely. No need to scroll through your phone. You do enough of that already (and even that can be stressful). Break time is when you stretch, read a chapter of an inspiring book, take a small walk, drink water, have a snack, pop open the Insight Timer app for a meditation, close your eyes for a few minutes or create a little combination of these.

9. Don’t work during playtime

These days, it is very easy for work to follow us outside of work. You perhaps can hear your email notifications going off while eating out for dinner or receive a work call while you are relaxing at the beach. The truth is, while there are perks to being easily connected, there can be some serious downsides to the increased difficulty of creating clear boundaries between your work and personal life. One study found that being unable to detach yourself from work during non-work time increases chance for burnout and stress, so be wise and mindful and make healthy choices.


Don’t think about work when you are not working. Much like you set limits and boundaries with coworkers and managers, you can say “no” to yourself, too.

So preferring to stay in bed and read a good book is not an indicator that you need a new job; it is an indicator that you need to slow down, relax and respect your boundaries more, so that you can give your best self to your work, your family and yourself.

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