At any given moment in our careers we have all felt burnout in some way.  Whether it is not being able to get out of bed in the morning, struggling to feel motivated to go to work, not being productive at work, and or feeling cynical about our jobs, this is something we have all felt.

Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) categorized burnout as legitimate medical diagnosis for the ICD-11, meaning that burnout is now even more prevalent in workplaces than it has been before, and it needs to be addressed.

The actual definition is difficult to pin down, but the WHO defines burnout by these three markers:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
  • Reduced professional efficacy.

I have seen burnout both in myself, many of my friends, and my family over the years. When burnout has been discussed, it feels as if there is a joking manner about it in ways where it doesn’t feel real or we are scared to truly talk about what is going on.  Sadly, burnout is real for so many of us, and it should not be something to feel shame or guilt around.  When a person feels they are beginning to burnout they might try to hide it from others at work or try to blame it on a project they have at work to justify what they are feeling.  Most often, it is not just the project but overall the fact that we sometimes are being overworked and do not have healthy outlets from work to disconnect.

While there are a range of things that a person can do to help with burnout, here are 3 ways that have helped me manage burnout when I start to notice it in myself.

1) Favor Fresh Air

When I notice that I am feeling exhausted and tired at work instead of turning to a trusty cup of coffee I will get up and go walk outside and try to get some fresh air.

2) Distance Yourself

After leaving work it is important to try to distance yourself from work and recharge your brain by exercising, cooking, sleeping or doing something that you find relaxing.  For me I am all about taking my 20-minute walk home as the perfect moment to relax my brain by listening to some music and noticing our beautiful city.

3) Use Your Support System

If my exhaustion from work is getting to the point where I am procrastinating more than normal, I will reach out to my support system for help and to talk about what is going on for me.

We all have struggled with burnout throughout our lives and it should not be something to feel guilt and shame for.  If you notice you are burning out, please take a moment and do something nice for yourself or find someone to talk to about what is going on.

-Beth Sanders, MA, LMHC