How to Prevent Burnout

man at office desk stressed out

How to Prevent Burnout

It’s the end of the weekend, and you’re not feeling refreshed yet. Tuesday you feel your motivation for the week draining. Wednesday and Thursday you work well into the evening, so you don’t have to put in time on the weekend. But the weekend rolls around and work is on the top of your mind. Once again, it’s Sunday night, and you haven’t had much downtime.


Burnout happens, and for everyone it’s different. Different triggers, warning signs, and symptoms. Burnout affects all of us differently impacting our health, our relationships with others and ourselves. That’s why spotting burnout can be tricky. This article will help you prevent burnout, by exploring the causes, warning signs, and proven methods of avoidance.



Burnout is a state of exhaustion. Physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion from being in demanding situations, usually long-term.


Burnout is beyond “tired”. When we’re tired, a day off or a couple hours of extra sleep are a quick fix. Tired, is a pit-stop on the way to experiencing burnout. In fact, excessive fatigue is a warning sign of burnout (we’ll discuss a little later).


Burnout is detrimental to an employee and an organization. When an employee reaches this state, their productivity has dropped and will continue doing so. Additional negative effects of burnout include:

  • A cynical and resentful outlook.
  • Lower morale.
  • Being more susceptible to illnesses as burnout weakens our immune systems.
  • Increased risk of developing food, drug, or alcohol dependencies.
  • Depression and anxiety.


Burnout is also contagious. The negative emotions we feel from a coworker in this state rub off on us. The team usually needs to pick up the slack of that employee, which continues to increase their risk of burnout.



While excessive work seems like an obvious reason to experience burnout, some people thrive from high-stress situations. A complex physical and emotional state like burnout is usually created by multiple stressors.

  • UNCLEAR GOALS AND JOB EXPECTATIONS: This causes many people to flounder or overwork themselves. They don’t know what’s expected of them but will work to cover all possibilities.
  • DISORGANIZATION: Working in a state of dysfunction, whether it’s a chaotic office, or on a team that doesn’t communicate well.
  • LACK OF AUTONOMY: Not having control over their work, or feeling like issues are left unresolved.
  • NO SUPPORT: Having little support from their boss or management causes an employee to feel overlooked, and unessential.
  • NO STIMULATION: Continual work you find monotonous or unchallenging.



While burnout is different for everyone, we generally experience more than one symptom. As burnout progresses, more symptoms are likely to pop up. The 10 most common warning signs that burnout is on the way include:

  1. An increasingly negative attitude at work.
  2. Feeling tired but can’t fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
  3. Low interest in activities you usually enjoy.
  4. Calling in sick when you’re not.
  5. Increased illnesses such as colds and flus.
  6. Physical aches, especially headaches, and backaches.
  7. Irritability and easily angered, particularly by coworkers.
  8. Feeling like you’re not making a difference.
  9. Thinking of quitting work or changing roles.
  10. Blaming others for your mistakes.



Spotting those warning signs in yourself, or a colleague can provide an opportunity to intervene before burnout fully sets in. You can also try one of these proven techniques.

  • WORK WITH PURPOSE: Make your job more than a paycheck. By finding ways to grow, and learn new skills you’re not only making yourself more valuable to the organization, you’re building a sense of purpose.
  • DECLARE AND ALIGN VALUES: Ensure you have done the work to match your values to the business culture. There is a natural fit, sense of belonging and ease when values are aligned.
  • PERFORM YOUR OWN JOB ANALYSIS: This is often necessary if you’re looking to grow. It will help you understand what you like, what you’d rather delegate, and areas where you can improve.
  • GIVE MORE: Helping a colleague, volunteering for an organization, donating to a worthy cause. Many people feel a boosted sense of self-esteem, and joy when they’re generous with their time and money.
  • EXERCISE: Being active not only improves how you handle stress, but it also helps to prevent stress in the first place. Working out can also improve your sleep cycle and mood.
  • FIND YOUR STRESS RELIEF: Whether it’s meditating, watching a comedy, or playing with the dog, we all need to find ways to increase positive energy.
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