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Stop Career Burnout Before It Stops You


Are you feeling the effects of career burnout? Would you recognize the signs you were approaching career burnout if you were?

As women in business, we have our heads down focused on the tasks at hand, continually pushing through the common cold, peer challenges and tough bosses and may not even realize that we are approaching the end of our rope. So take a minute to read what I’ve been learning about career burnout so you can put the brakes on before you hit a brick wall.

Sherry Bevan, The Confident Mother, offers 5 Signs of Career Burnout in her article, How to Spot Career Burnout.

The 5 signs of career burnout are:

  1. You feel overwhelmed all day every day.
  2. Your heart sinks every time the phone rings.
  3. You feel exhausted.
  4. You keep getting sick.
  5. You are not looking after yourself.

It’s ironic that the last thing on the list is what should really be at the top of your “to do” list every day. Taking care of yourself is so important. Sherry says it well:

Looking after yourself is really important. It’s about eating well, sleeping well, taking time to rest and relax, being active, and doing things outside of work or business. If you don’t do any of these because you ‘don’t have time’, then now is the time to ‘make the time’. Nobody is invincible. None of us are super woman. At least, not all day, every day. Even Superwoman eats, sleeps and rests. In fact that’s how she gets to be Superwoman.

So what do you do if you are feeling the effects of career burnout? American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD offers some great suggestions in the Forbes article, 10 Signs You’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It. In the article, Dr. Ballard let us in on what to do if you recognize the above symptoms in yourself. Here are just three of his suggestions:

Take Relaxation Seriously

Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.

Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life

Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).


While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.

And so you say to me, “That’s all well and good but I’m juggling a full-time career, a rich and hectic family life and also spend time volunteering at a local venue that is important to me. How do I find time to unplug or add a hobby? Sleeping is my hobby and I don’t get to do much of that!”

Well, that’s fair. It comes down to prioritization and delegation. What tasks can you delegate? Grocery shopping? Dry cleaning? House cleaning? Are there projects that you are responsible for that no longer line up with your career goals? Is there a way to reassign them to someone else? What do you say “yes” to that perhaps it is time to start saying “no?”

Do you make time for yourself each day? Just 10, 15, 30 minutes that you can call on as your own? I enjoy getting up 30 minutes before the rest of the family so that I have time to collect my thoughts, review the calendar and my to-do list for the day so that I can start the morning prepared before the demands of family and career.

I am not suggesting an overhaul but consider this – An easy and wonderful addition to your to-do list should be:

Listen to the Birds

Yes, you read this correctly. Why Bird Music Is Great For Relaxation, Stress And Anxiety is a fantastic collection of research, videos, recordings that can help you relax and focus. I specifically love the video under What is Bird Music.  It quickly refocuses my energy and minimizes my stress and anxiety.  Thank you Deborah for sharing this amazing body of work!

Are you worth putting on the priority list for today? I say, YES. Don’t let career burnout zap you of all you have to offer.

The Mayo Clinic also had advice to share on career burnout. Here are a few of their tips:

Evaluate your options

Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Perhaps you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Is job sharing an option? What about telecommuting or flexing your time? Would it help to establish a mentoring relationship? What are the options for continuing education or professional development.

Adjust your attitude

If you’ve become cynical at work, consider ways to improve your outlook. Rediscover enjoyable aspects of your work. Recognize co-workers for valuable contributions or a job well-done. Take short breaks throughout the day. Spend time away from work doing things you enjoy.

Seek support

Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope with job stress and feelings of burnout. If you have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), take advantage of the available services.

You are too valuable to let career burnout stop you from your ultimate successes in life. Take action!

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