May 27, 2011

Managing Job Burnout

Written by Rachel Eddins

career counselor burnout road sign

In today’s busy society, it’s easy to operate at full capacity on a regular basis at work. Many people are working longer hours and taking on more responsibilities.

There are more demands, information, stimuli and the threat of job loss. What are the effects?


Though you may feel that you have the energy to continuously manage high demands right now, without proper self-care, you may find yourself hitting the wall.

If you’re feeling stuck and need an objective perspective to help you find career direction or a more meaningful career, a career counselor can help!

Stages of Job Burnout


1. The Honeymoon

  • Enjoyable stress, enthusiasm, energy, ability to push ourselves farther, eagerness to accept challenges, job satisfaction, fulfillment
  • Uses up adaptive energy (special fuel sources that provides power to mobilize body and give strength when under stress; is finite and must be replenished)
  • Positive self-care and stress management habits must be utilized or the burnout process begins.
  • Idealists, perfectionists, workaholics, high achievers most susceptible to burnout. The more they achieve, the more the work is piled on.

2. Fuel Shortage

  • Vague feeling of loss, disappointment, on verge of losing balance.
  • Warning signals: job dissatisfaction, inefficiency at work, fatigue, sleep disturbance, escape activities.
  • Weekends don’t provide enough time for renewal.
  • Starting to avoid interacting with others; isolating from people.
  • Still have some energy, can recharge; good opportunity to use stress reduction techniques before moving on to next stage of burnout.

3. Chronic Symptoms

  • Feeling that “something is happening to me,” chronic exhaustion, physical illness, anger, depression, hopeless feelings.
  • Arriving late at work on a regular basis; avoidance.
  • Obsessive thinking about work; work continues to be on the mind even when doing non-work activities.
  • Boredom with the job and loss of enthusiasm for projects. Questioning whether work is meaningful.
  • Addictive behaviors increase (attempts at self-soothing): increased caffeine, alcohol, TV watching, internet surfing, food intake.
  • Important time to find relief, work on “recovering.”

4. Crisis

  • Psychological symptoms include negativity, obsession with frustrations, self-doubt, “escape mentality”, despair.

5. Hitting the Wall

  • Unable to continue working, loss of control of life, great deal of time and understanding required.

 How to Avoid Burnout

  1. Practice regular self-care with adequate exercise, nutrition,  and sleep.
  2. Reduce intensity in your life (long hours of crunching numbers, cooking dinner after a long day at work, etc.). Try and eliminate those tasks or take a new approach to them.
  3. Pace yourself. Our bodies need up and down times. We can work intensely for awhile, but then need a break. Insert quiet and relaxing time throughout your day. Don’t wait until the end of the day to realize you haven’t taken a break, haven’t eaten lunch, etc.
  4. Minimize worrying. Worry solves nothing and increases your anxiety. Write down your concerns and talk to a friend or counselor about them, come up with a resolution and take action.
  5. Nurture YOURSELF more than others. Learn to say no. Recognize when you are agreeing to long hours or projects due to approval needs vs. self-care. Focus on making time for yourself a priority. Don’t get caught up in caring over the needs of others as a detriment to your own.
  6. Set boundaries at work and remember that it will always be there tomorrow.
  7. Acknowledge and understand your emotional reactions (anger, loneliness, irritation, fatigue).
  8. Plan for balance. Distribute your time and energies to satisfy your needs.
  9. Avoid isolation. Create a support system and increase communication skills with others.
  10. Set realistic goals and be willing to modify or change them.
  11. Maximize resources of time and energy by delegating, sharing jobs, and setting limits.
  12. Utilize a revolving “to-do” list and review it daily.
  13. Be willing to change and seek help.

Next Steps

Our career counselors are available for face to face sessions as well as online therapy sessions in limited areas. Contact us in Houston to find out how we can help.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

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