burned out gentleman

Burned out at work 7 Symptoms and How to Address Them

by Tina Collins, CSP, on June 04, 2018
Let’s say you are sitting at your desk, unhappy, scrolling through social media. Do you envy others’ posts about promotions, new jobs, or work celebrations? Do you put projects off because you’re bored? Do you feel stressed out or like there is no light at the end of the tunnel? You may be experiencing symptoms of job burnout.  Below are seven symptoms and how to address them.

Impaired Social Functioning- Stressing Over Everything

Stress carries over into everything you do. According to the Association for Psychological Science, “burnout not only impairs people’s personal and social functioning, it also can overwhelm their cognitive skills.” A simple email from a co-worker could cause resentment because your job burnout is hindering how you function socially. Emails containing productivity killers, negativity in the workplace, or a colleague who doesn’t see eye-to-eye can cause unneeded stress in the workplace.

It’s important to recognize when your burnout is causing your stress.  Limit your contact with negative co-workers when possible.  People who complain will only drag you down. If you have to work with them, address the situation before it has a chance to become something more. Try to talk about the problem face-to-face. It is very easy for email communication to be misread and the tone to be misunderstood. Lastly, don’t forget to keep an open mind and listen. Stay calm and know when to ask for help. If the situation needs assistance from a supervisor, be sure to reach out.


Are you always playing catch-up from the day before? Do you find yourself procrastinating more and more because you don’t want to do the task at hand?  Research shows that there are many reasons people procrastinate. The work might be boring, frustrating, without reward, difficult, or unstructured. The more averse you find a task, the more likely you are to procrastinate.

Consider thinking differently about the task you’re dreading. Give yourself a short-term goal and start by breaking the task into phases. When it is broken down, the mountain looks more climbable. Accountability is key to accomplishing any size project. When you are done, treat yourself!

Work-Life Balance – The 24-hour Workday

Do you feel like you live, breathe, and dream about work?  Common dreams are forgetting to complete a project, uncomfortable and stressful conversations with clients or employees, or forgetting about a crucial task. A common symptom of job burnout is feeling trapped in the 24-hour workday. Letting work interfere with your personal life too much may be a warning sign of burnout.

You need to turn off work when you are off the clock. Constantly running and never escaping can lead to burnout very quickly. Strive to get a better night’s sleep by de-cluttering your area. Make sure that the room is dark and quiet. Disconnect from your devices, especially email and social media before you start to wind down. Too much stimulation can prevent your brain from letting you fall asleep.  Use essential oils, like lavender, to trigger your brain to recognize that it is bedtime.

Dreading Going to Work

Do you dread Monday mornings? Believe it or not, it is a fairly common feeling. A Monster.com study found that 59% of Americans experience “really bad” Sunday night blues.   Maybe you’ve felt it. Monday means that you are starting all over again. If you are in a meaningless job, dislike your work, or hate your surroundings, it can make the approach of Monday unbearable. Burnout can take a serious toll on your health, performance, and, psychological well-being, not to mention the impact on those around you.

Mondays are great days to embrace the fresh start. You can do something small like wear your favorite outfit, schedule a lunch date, or do something fun after work. Transition into your day by asking your co-workers about their weekend. A little talk around the watercooler can be refreshing. Look at every Monday as a chance to start over and be awesome.

Lack of Recognition

Is someone else always being rewarded for your ideas? Alternatively, is someone being praised for something you do just as well? You might have a case of the “ME” vs “WE” mentality. No matter what they tell you, every employee wants to feel needed.

According to an employee engagement survey by SHRM, 71% of respondents believed that appreciation by a direct supervisor had the most impact on employee engagement in their organization. An unexpected pat on the back or recognition in front of peers for a job well done can be a tremendous ego boost and go a long way toward stemming the onset of job burnout. 

Stagnation -- Reaching the Glass Ceiling

Feeling like you are never going to advance? You might be reaching the glass ceiling. When you have topped out at your career, the feeling of being stagnant can get you down. There are various reasons for the proverbial stop sign.  You might be in your company’s blind spot. Maybe the need for your forte only goes to that point.

Don’t hold yourself back! You can’t keep doing the same old thing repeatedly and expect a new result. Think fresh! Even though you might not be able to advance in your department, you might be destined to be in a different role within the organization. Build your reputation as a go-getter, and find a mentor.


Are you constantly feeling tired, drained, and like everything is too much effort? People who experience burnout start to become detached from their work and feel ineffective on the job. Don’t push yourself to the point of becoming ill or not taking care of yourself. You might think staying an hour later will give you an edge on your competition.  However, in reality, they are balancing work and home, which could make them more successful.

Be healthy. Be strong. Be resilient. Be smarter about time management. Don’t let the stressors get to you—fight on and overcome them! Start exercising more and eating better. We tend to overlook our health when we are stressed. You give your job and employer eight or more hours each day, so give yourself at least one. Believe me - you are worth it!

Where do you go from here? If you felt like this was written about you, don’t give up hope. There is some good news -- you have the power to change what is in your control.  Every job will not be a good fit. At least you can start looking with a clear conscious that you did the best you could. Make sure you give at least two weeks’ notice, and then start fresh. Do not burn bridges. Take every experience as a stepping-stone that will lead you to your career path. Be thankful, even for the mistakes.
Tina Collins, CSP

Tina is a Human Resources Specialist for the LandrumHR Staffing division. She is a military spouse, and has a sincere passion for helping veterans and other military spouses find jobs!

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