How to overcome job burnout


My pregnancy happened at the end of a very challenging year at work. It came when I was going through a mild job burnout with high chances of escalating. Thankfully, due to my pregnancy work ban because of the pandemic, a potentially accute burnout was prevented.

I experienced excessive stress at work via constant headaches and stomachaches, heart palpitation when approaching my workplace, neglecting my self-care, high levels of physical and emotional fatigue, loss of purpose and dreading going to work.

I reflected extensively on how I experienced the beginning of the burnout and what helped me overcome it and take preventive measures for a similar occasion.

What is burnout, and what are its symptoms?

The term burnout was coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974. It describes a state of mental or physical exhaustion due to prolonged workplace stress.

Some of the burnout symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety – dreading work
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sleep issues 
  • Weak immune function 
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest or pleasure
  • Behavioural issues (aggression, impatience, irritation)
  • Neglecting personal needs
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling worthless
  • Withdrawal
How to recover from or prevent burnout

Burnout is not fun. It’s a horrible state of feeling lost or trapped in a situation that seems impossible to change or escape. Burnout makes you wonder if the rest of your working life, and consequently, your social and personal life, will forever be colourless and painful. 

Fear not, though! You are strong and capable enough to elude this vicious circle of self-doubt, emotional and physical pain. There are steps and strategies to help you deal with burnout and prevent a relapse. 

The good news is that none of these steps are rocket science. The bad news is that you must work hard towards a specific purpose. But that’s good, isn’t it?


If you read this blog regularly or follow me on Instagram, you know I am a self-care preacher. I faithfully follow the motto “Me, myself and I”, for I believe that no one else should ever be in charge of myself but me. And this includes self-care. If I am not tending to my physical, emotional and psychological needs, nobody else will do it successfully. 

Good sleep habits, exercise, a healthy diet, staying hydrating, a warm bath, or a fulfilling hobby are some of the elements of self-care. Do not underestimate the impact of those factors on your daily operations!

Personal values

Losing track of our values and beliefs is a common cause of burnout. The why behind our actions and behaviours drives our course of action. When we lose sight of the values we stand for, then we miss the intention behind anything we do, including our job. 

Nobody will ever guarantee that our profession will be like sailing in a smooth sea forever. Every job contains challenges, disappointment or conflicts, and no job is a daily piece of cake; therefore, it is essential to frequently review our values and whether our life choices align with them. 

Sometimes it helps to actively jot down our personal values, goals and intentions, so we can easily refer to them when we feel disoriented.

Remember what you stand for, and your lifestyle should reflect that.

Priorities and time-management

Oh, all the things we need to tick off from our endless to-do lists. How can one dodge anxiety when our devices relentlessly buzz, reminding us of all the tasks we have been so skilfully evading to accomplish!

There will always be numerous, mercilessly attention-seeking tasks. No surprises there. But one can only do that much.

Prioritise. Not everything is as urgent as it appears to be. Some tasks can wait. If you feel helpless, remember that good time-management skills are one of the keys to preventing or recovering from burnout.

Organise yourself by writing -or typing- down the tasks demanding your attention. Then, on your physical or online calendar, distribute some of these tasks according to their importance or urgency. 

Keep your goals and deadlines SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) and refrain from cramming your day with numerous jobs to do, which will eventually lead to disappointment.

Build connections

Even strong, independent humans need support and guidance from time to time. A mistake we often make is underestimating the presence of significant others in our life and their input during times of concern, such as burnout.

Therefore, investing time and energy in creating a circle of reliable, trustworthy and important people is eventually rewarding for many reasons. One of them is the support we can receive in tough times when we tend to believe that we are alone in this. 

We are afraid to open up and show weakness. We are frightened to admit that we can’t continue living a life that no longer feels purposeful and rewarding. Well, that’s a mistake, for there is no such thing as immunity to everything. 

Even worst, there is no such thing as perfection. There is something wonderfully liberating in admitting to our imperfections and -when necessary- asking for help from the significant figures in our life.

Ask for a specialist’s support

Psychologists, counsellors, life coaches and psychotherapists would starve if it weren’t for our admitting to our weaknesses. These people can perform wonders, especially once we locate the right for our needs person.

But asking for a specialist’s help means you automatically agree to move beyond your comfort zone, walk the extra mile and do the hard work. It means getting yourself ready to put your trust in someone else. And it means you are ready to encounter some ugly truths to become a better version of yourself.

Investing in yourself and taking your well-being seriously is NEVER a wrong choice. Our well-being reflects on the people around us, especially the ones we dearly care about.

That’s why you should always be your top priority. Do you consider it selfish? Selfishness is to drag other people down in an attempt to emerge on the surface when we are at our lowest. Investing in our well-being by healing our traumas -literally or figuratively- is an ultimate act of selflessness.

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