Signs of Burnout at Work – and What to Do About It

It’s easy to just quit your job if you’re feeling burned out, but what if you can manage your stressors and save your job instead?
The gradsingapore Team
Elliyani Mohamad Ali
Chief Editor, gradsingapore
Signs of burnout at work – and what to do about it

It’s normal to have bad days at work. Having nothing but bad days at work however, is not. If you’re going through this, it’s possible that you’re experiencing job burnout – an overwhelming feeling of physical and mental exhaustion at work. The World Health Organization defines it as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

When work makes you feel nothing but misery, you might feel tempted to take the extreme route and just quit your job. But that isn’t always possible for some, and you may even come to regret it if you do it on impulse without consideration. Moreover, there are also ways that you can handle some of the stressors causing the burnout, so you could also consider that first before turning to your last resort of quitting.

Are you feeling burned out or just stressed?

According to research studies, there is strong evidence suggesting that being under constant stress at work does not always correlate with burnout. The difference is that being burned out isn’t just an irritation or feeling tired from being busy all day – it usually comes with significant functional impairment, including feeling empty and devoid of motivation.

Signs of burnout at work – and what to do about it_Signs

Figure out the source of your burnout

It’s a common saying that before you tackle your problem, you must first admit that you have one. So now that you know you’re feeling burned out, take a hard look at your current work life and list down exactly what you’re unhappy about. Talk it over with your loved ones to help you sort out your thoughts and feelings. Only then will you be able to make your next decision whether it’s worth fighting for your job, or leaving for a different opportunity.

Signs of burnout at work – and what to do about it_Stay or quit

Take some time off

Now’s the perfect time to indulge in your annual leave. Even if you’re unable to travel overseas, you still need to physically step back from work and take a break. Try to take as many days off as you’re able. When you’re feeling burned out, a weekend alone may not enough to destress and recharge. Take note of upcoming public holidays to leverage on and maximise your leave.

Don’t take too long to step away though. The longer you delay, the more intense the burnout can feel, and you may have greater difficulty in managing it.

Signs of burnout at work – and what to do about it_Take time off

Know your limit

There is a high chance you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’re not putting up enough boundaries. Do you always say “yes” when others ask you to take on additional tasks? Do you try to figure out the work by yourself, even though you didn’t get the training or proper instructions? Do you accept bad behaviour towards you instead of standing up for yourself? It’s not too late to understand your limit and be proactive in maintaining your boundaries.

Signs of burnout at work – and what to do about it_Know your limit

Social connections

Feeling burned out can fill you with hopelessness and despair. But with a strong support network by your side, your loved ones can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it’s just a short chat, social contact can do wonders in relieving stress. The person you talk to about doesn’t necessarily have to fix them (especially not if they’re just a friend or loved one!) – they just need to listen to you attentively without judgement. If you can do it face-to-face, it’ll be all the more effective.

Signs of burnout at work – and what to do about it_Social connections

Love your job again

So, you’re in the process of managing your burnout and decided to stay at your current job. But it’s not enough to just continue working as if nothing’s wrong. Imagine getting back together with your ex-partner after a tumultuous relationship. The both of you need to put in the effort to bring back the love in the relationship. Similarly, you need to put in time and effort to enjoy with your job again.

Signs of burnout at work – and what to do about it_Love your job

Ultimately, there’s no shame in quitting your job if that’s the best route for your mental health at the end of the day. After all, there are other job opportunities out there. If you find work to be too overwhelming and you’re leaving the office miserable, don’t force yourself to tolerate it past your breaking point. Knowing how to navigate this is part and parcel of the working life, and there isn’t always a clear answer. In the end, it’s up to you to make the decision that feels right in your gut, and flow with it.