How To Recognize And Prevent Burnout

When your job starts to evoke negative emotions within you, including disillusionment, helplessness, and exhaustion, it's possible that you are on the road toward burnout. Burnout can come out of nowhere for many people who find themselves working at jobs that don't satisfy them or make them happy. But according to Help Guide, it's actually possible to find balance and regain hope in your workplace after experiencing burnout. 


The Mayo Clinic explains that although you can't necessarily be medically diagnosed with "burnout," it still heavily impacts individuals in a way that should be taken seriously. The feeling you have when you're getting dressed for work or heading to your workplace environment says a lot about the well-being of your mental health. In more serious cases, it's possible that burnout can lead to serious health issues. No job is worth your happiness, health, or peace of mind. These are the major signs of burnout to look out for, and the ways you can prevent this from becoming a reality.

You're feeling cynical about your job

One of the biggest signs that you're dealing with burnout at work is that you're starting to feel cynical about your job. In other words, it feels like every day is a bad day, no matter what is on the schedule. Right Attitude explains that it's possible to conquer your cynicism in the workplace if you put your best foot forward with enthusiasm and positivity. That advice is easier said than done, though. 


Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership explains that being cynical at work could potentially be stalling your career from moving in the right direction. The issue at hand is that if you hate what you do for work every day, it's incredibly difficult to pull yourself out of that bleak headspace to become a more optimistic individual. You aren't necessarily harming anyone by showing up to work with a cynical attitude every day, but in a way, you are hurting yourself by carrying around dark, brooding, and negative energy like a lingering cloud.

Analyze all the positives your job brings to your life

Moving past your cynicism in the workplace starts with surrounding yourself with high-vibrational individuals who share your routine and responsibilities. If you can visually witness other people accomplishing the same tasks as you while maintaining a happier mentality, then you know that it's possible for you to do the same. Analyzing some of the reasons why your job is actually a good thing in your life can also be incredibly helpful. If you can recognize all of the positives your job provides, that can help you feel a little less cynical.


Proactive Insights notes that company culture and values, being well-paid, and having the chance to contribute to a larger purpose are some of the possible things you might add to your list of job positives. mentions that when a company offers flexibility, goal-oriented leadership, an open-door policy, quality benefits, and room to grow, you might appreciate your job a bit more. Even if the only positive you can think of regarding your job is that you're earning a paycheck that covers your bills, that still counts. Try to come up with a small list of things that you genuinely appreciate about your workplace and notice if your cynicism starts to dwindle.

You're dragging yourself into work each day

If you feel like you're dragging yourself into work every day, then you're definitely experiencing some burnout. Knowledge City Learning Solutions explains that when you're suffering from burnout, it often feels like your enthusiasm has been crushed and your energy has been zapped whenever you head to work each day. Leaderonomics says that those who feel like they are dragging themselves into work are often consumed with boredom, frustration, and full-throttle dissatisfaction. 


If you feel resentful about waking up at a certain time, getting dressed in a presentable way, making your commute, and then actually walking in to get started, it's pretty obvious that you have no interest in being there at all. If you're spending your entire shift checking the clock to watch how slowly the time is passing, then you have even more confirmation. Struggling with the daily temptation to simply call in sick or quit altogether means that your job is psychologically weighing on you in a way that has gone a tad too far.

Discuss work-from-home options or schedule changes with your leadership

Struggling to make the trek into the office every day is a true sign of burnout that can be avoided altogether with a schedule change or work-from-home arrangement. According to, seeking out a schedule change can be done if you present your case to your scheduling manager effectively, honestly, and clearly. Determine exactly what you're requesting, whether it's starting at 10:30 am instead of 9 am every day, nixing graveyard shifts, or something else time-related.


Ambition and Balance by Doist says you can request to work from home using top-notch negotiation tactics that will get you far if the type of job you have can actually be done from home. There are tons of jobs that require you to be there physically and in person. But if your job can be done remotely in any capacity, it's worth it for you to make the request and see what happens. The challenges of going into work each day may feel more manageable if your scheduled work hours are more suitable for you, or if you're simply doing your job from home moving forward.

Your co-workers and management team annoy you

It would be ideal if you got along well with all of your co-workers and your management team. Realistically, though, that isn't always the case. If you feel overwhelmed with annoyance every time you have to interact with the people you work with, it's obvious that you're dealing with some burnout. 


When your colleagues try to make small talk with you on the job, do you feel like you want to disappear from their presence immediately? Whenever your boss cracks a joke, does it make you cringe? When your coworkers offer to invite you out for drinks off the clock, is your instant response always "no thanks"? Being annoyed by everyone you work with is directly connected to burnout. US News and World Report says that some of the most annoying co-workers include loud talkers who don't have volume control, political agitators, gossips, suck-ups, overworked "martyrs," know-it-alls, and constant socializers. 

When it comes to management types, Fairy God Boss explains that some of the most irritating people to report to include the micromanaging boss, the condescending boss, the negligent boss, the MIA boss, the mansplaining boss, and the boss who doesn't understand the importance of work-life balance. The best work environments are filled with people who vibe well together — but you can't force yourself to love a group of people you simply don't get along with.


Separate from co-workers and management as much as possible

If there's not a single soul in your workplace who you can stomach being around, then your best bet would be to separate from your co-workers and management as much as possible. You know that you have to go to work in order to make money, but that doesn't mean you have to spend every waking moment with a group of people who are in close proximity to you simply due to the circumstances. Business News Daily says you can maintain boundaries with people you work with by staying goal-oriented, skipping out on office gossip, and avoiding any opportunities to overshare details about your own life. 


Chron notes that you can maintain your boundaries in the workplace by saying "no thanks" when your co-workers ask for your personal contact information or social media handles. Steering clear of workplace locations where your co-workers tend to huddle up and socialize is also important. It might seem a bit dramatic to dip off to your car or somewhere else for privacy at lunchtime, but if your co-workers are annoying you, having alone time during your lunch break is something you might want to consider.

You find it difficult to concentrate

Concentrating at work is extremely important if you want to stay on track in your career. When you're burned out, though, concentration is one of the most difficult things to maintain. Life Hack notes that knowing how to concentrate is an essential life tool that must be mastered in order to achieve success. Unfortunately, it's easy to stop caring about concentrating on work stuff when you feel like you're totally over it. 


Healthline explains that a lack of concentration can look like having short-term memory loss, having trouble sitting still, having difficulty thinking clearly, frequently misplacing things, and struggling with the inability to make big decisions. It also looks like a mental struggle to perform complicated tasks, the failure to focus on important things, and constant careless mistakes. Other people at work, including superiors, might start to notice your lack of concentration and assume that you really don't care about keeping your job. Having burnout doesn't necessarily mean you want to be done with your job, but others may very well get that idea.

Keep up with clear checklists

If you want to combat your lack of concentration in the workplace, consider keeping a checklist to get you through each day. Checkify explains that keeping a checklist in the workplace will help you stay organized, act as your backup memory bank, improve your motivation, increase your productivity, help you become more creative, and give you the chance to share your knowledge. Keeping a clear checklist also can provide opportunities for delegation. 


If your management team notices that your checklist is a little too long, they may invite someone else to handle some of your tasks. Hartford Business notes that workplace checklists promote excellence on the job since it becomes way too difficult for you to forget about something that's been written down. One of the biggest benefits that come along with having a checklist is that you'll feel proud of yourself at the end of the day once you complete everything on your list.

You feel like your work achievements mean nothing

If you've reached a point in life where your work achievements mean absolutely nothing to you, then you are fully burned out. Get Bullish says you aren't alone if your achievements are leaving you feeling totally empty. Fast Company explains that there's actually some science behind why you never feel truly satisfied with your workplace accomplishments. It turns out that hedonic adaptation leads even the most driven and ambitious individuals to burnout. 


In other words, being recognized for achievements at work might've excited you at one point in time, but feeling like you're on a demoralizing hamster wheel eventually takes all of that enthusiasm away. When you first started working, the idea of getting recognized by your management team, receiving a promotion, or being labeled "employee of the month" might have enticed you. When you're past the point of caring about such things, it means that your level of burnout is at an all-time high.

Celebrate your work wins, however small they might be

You might not care to be recognized for workplace achievements by your co-workers or management team, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be celebrating your wins on your own time. Fellow explains that celebrating small wins is a way of showing yourself love, respect, and appreciation for the effort you put forth. Life Hack notes that you can go about small win celebrations by rewarding yourself with something you feel you deserve. 


Treat yourself to your favorite meal for dinner or a brand-new pair of stylish shoes. If you don't want to spend any money while celebrating yourself, treat yourself to a car ride listening to a playlist of your favorite songs or an early morning wake-up call when you can admire the beauty of a sunrise. You can celebrate your small wins at work by lightening the pressure you put on yourself with your obligations or even taking a personal day off.

You rely on substances or unhealthy distractions during your time off

You are 100% dealing with burnout if you feel the need to rely on substances or unhealthy distractions like oversleeping during your off time. If your first instinct is to grab an alcoholic beverage or something similar as soon as you clock out of work, it's obvious that your job might be stressing you out too much. The Raleigh House says that burned-out workers deal with panic attacks before, during, or after their shift, they feel overwhelmed at work, they have trouble sleeping at night, and they develop nervous habits such as nail biting or pacing the room. 


Dabbling with substances to distract yourself from work-related stress isn't exactly a healthy route to take. Some people deal with burnout at work by oversleeping on their days off, which isn't the best habit, either. Healthline explains that adults should be getting anywhere between seven to nine hours of sleep. Oversleeping on the weekends to make up for the lack of sleep you're getting throughout the week is directly correlated to burnout. Overeating comfort foods, binge-watching TV shows, and endless social media scrolling are a few other unhealthy distractions that burned-out individuals lean on.

Get busy with hobbies that benefit your well-being

Instead of risking your health and well-being by relying on substances, excessive sleep, TV shows, comfort food, or social media, it's best to seek out hobbies outside of work that will truly benefit you. Everyday Health suggests honing in on a specific hobby that intrigues you, because doing things you enjoy can have a range of positive effects. Refocusing your attention on positive things that have nothing to do with your job can help boost your mood in a significant way. Life Hack suggests hiking, dancing, or yoga as some physical activities that will guide you in the right direction. 


Some creative outlets to think about include painting, sculpting, writing, knitting, or woodwork. For those who want to improve their mental health, activities such as journaling, meditating, and reading high-vibrational content are some great ideas. Other wonderful suggestions include cooking, gardening, and volunteer work. The hours you spend at work might not be in your control, but you get to decide how you spend your free time. You're the one who chooses how fulfilling your life outside of work will be.

Your work obligations tend to spill over into your free time

It's easy to feel burned out at the office if your work obligations spill over into your free time. When you're at work, it's up to you to focus on your obligations. As soon as you're done working, though, you should be free to do your own thing. Some companies don't care about your personal life and will expect you to continue working off the clock. TRC explains that when a company doesn't care about work-life balance, it leads them down the path of low morale and high turnover rates. 


Your management team should be encouraging you to use up all your vacation time, they should be flexible when it comes to your scheduling needs, and they should be restrictive about how many hours you're working each week on a professional level. Morgan & Morgan says that it's absolutely illegal for your employer to make you work off the clock, which means tons of jobs might try to skate past the law in order to squeeze more responsibilities out of you.

Prioritize work-life balance

Standing up for yourself in the workplace by prioritizing work-life balance is a must when fighting back against burnout. says you can achieve this by limiting nonessential activities, learning when to say "no" to your supervisors, and knowing when to unplug. Keep your schedule in mind, communicate your needs, and determine what your core values are. Remind yourself that you don't exist as a human on the planet to work for some company from sun up until sundown. 


Side Car explains that a lot of workers fear the notion of unplugging from work because they don't want to be seen as lazy or replaceable. For this reason, workers often ensure that they stay available to their co-workers and management team outside of typical business hours. Prioritizing work-life balance means you'll have to stop stressing about work responsibilities as soon as your shift comes to an end. Allow yourself to rest, relax, and recuperate. Give yourself the grace to focus on other things you care about outside of work.

You're living for the weekends

It's safe to say that you're totally burned out if you feel like you're living for the weekends. Fairy God Boss explains that too many workers spend time perched at their desks, stuck in fantasies about the end of the work week on a regular basis. Imagining all the fun things they'll be able to do when the weekend starts is now a normal mindset for way too many people in the workforce. The Muse explains that "living for the weekend" is a bigger red flag than you might realize. 


If it's barely Monday and you haven't even started your obligations for the day, yet you're already wishing you could fast forward to Friday night, then you have some reevaluating to do. It's not necessarily a bad thing if you are occasionally living for the weekend, but if the weekend is all you can think about because you're dreading what you have to do Monday through Friday, your burnout might be getting the best of you.

Schedule fun things to do throughout your weekdays

Instead of waiting for the weekend to roll around, you can start enjoying your weekdays just as much. Balance Through Simplicity explains that there are several things you can do throughout the week to make Monday through Friday more bearable. Practicing regular self-care with an at-home spa day or beauty treatment is an idea. Getting in some exercise, decluttering your home to make it a safe haven, and practicing gratitude are some other suggestions. Frugal Confessions notes that you can enjoy weekday activities with friends, a significant other, or all on your own — it's really worth your time to improve your weekday mentality. 


Scheduling blissful activities that can be accommodated any night during the week makes the most sense if you want to have exciting things to look forward to all the time. Go out for ice cream on a Monday night, visit a dog park on Tuesday evening, watch a recreational sporting event on Wednesday, and use Thursday night to explore a local museum. Brainstorm a handful of fun, simple, and interesting things to do in your area that are available on weekday evenings.

Your health is suffering from work-related stress

The worst possible thing that could happen to you while dealing with burnout from work would be to realize that your health is starting to suffer from work-related stress. Corporate Wellness Magazine explains that work-related stress is the silent killer of employee productivity and health. After all, when you're stressed at work, it impacts you both physically and psychologically. UMass Lowell explains that some of the short-term effects of work-related stress include sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, short temper, and headaches. 


Some of the long-term and more serious effects include neurological disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and cardiovascular disease. There's also the chance that you could deal with an unexpected workplace injury depending on the type of job you have. If you're really stressed at work, it increases your risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cortisol, a weakened immune system, and high cholesterol. A stressful work environment is also directly linked to anxiety and depression.

Consider starting a new job hunt or pursuing a career change

At the end of the day, your health and well-being are way more important than any job you might land. If your physical or mental health is deteriorating, it might be time to consider starting a job hunt or pursuing a career change altogether. Flex Jobs notes that you can get started with your job search by prepping your resume, polishing up your online profiles, touching base with your network, and setting some personal goals. 


Some of the best websites to log into for job searches include LinkedIn, Indeed, Snagajob, and Monster. The Balance says that if you're interested in a career change, you could end up feeling more fulfilled, less stressed, and loads happier based on the industry you join. Some of the most common reasons people opt for a career change include their desire for better pay, a better work-life balance, or to get away from an original career field that was way too stressful. 

You can work towards a successful career change by checking out job options in the fields that interest you most, setting up opportunities to shadow people who are already doing what you're interested in, pursuing further education to become qualified, and putting yourself out there to land a job in the career that better suits you. Just because you've invested a certain number of years into your current job doesn't mean you're not allowed to make a change when you're ready.