3 Steps To Convert Career Burnout To Burnout Recovery

By: Briar Dougherty

With the Great Resignation creating new outcomes for thousands of Americans, the question remains, what about those professionals unable to leave their jobs or change direction in their careers? What happens when leaving your current employer is a desire, but the steps to finding what comes next create an emotional vortex that leads to immediate emotional paralysis? For some Americans, no matter how many extra hours they are required to work during the week or how many personal hours are sacrificed to meet their mounting obligations, leaving their job is not an option. But the burnout these professionals are experiencing is real and weighs heavily on their minds. In most cases, it hinders their ability to answer the question, “Where do I start, and how can I make this situation better?”

When competing priorities leave your mind, body, and emotions low on fuel, how do you call on those much-needed reserves? And what if your tank is already on empty?

How do we convert career burnout to burnout recovery? The first step is recognizing when you’re there. How can you know that you’re experiencing burnout? We often observe in our career, moments of exhaustion, fatigue or even frustration, but that doesn’t always mean it is burnout. So, recognizing the tipping point is an important piece to be able to begin burnout recovery.

As noted in a study by the Mayo Clinic, they site that some of the indicators to tell if you’re experiencing work burnout are seen in both physical and mental changes in demeanor and physical ability. They record that some professionals experience critical, cynical, and even disillusioned feelings at work. Some have an increase in irritability or a deep hesitation in going to work or getting motivated to make progress. Some physical signs present as unexplained headaches and a shift in sleeping patterns.

 If this sounds familiar, career burnout may be the culprit, and it now means you’re ready to turn that knowledge into action to support and build a strategy to begin burnout recovery.

The second step is doing a little introspective work. Identifying the core values that have been constantly overstepped during the course of the last several months. Some frequently violated core values shared by professionals over the last 18 months of the pandemic are family, respect, integrity, and trustworthiness.

When we identify core values first, then we are able to build boundaries around them, to protect and bolster the foundation that makes helps you thrive.

The third step is setting boundaries is the application. This takes practice, but building boundaries to protect your values makes it easier to say no to extra work or set better limits around the hours you will engage with work. When you know it means less time with family or sacrificing time to work on the other things that are important to you. When you don’t know what you’re protecting, it is more likely that you won’t say no or if you do, you may then feel guilt or a pang of nervousness. These tense feelings begin the awful cycle that leads to burnout and setting boundaries helps eliminate those occurrences.

Now that boundaries are created and upheld, the fourth step in burnout recovery is time to think about options. Most fatigue and resentment come from feeling stuck or boxed in. When people feel trapped, they elicit their fight or flight reactions and that can lead to discomfort at work, and emotion leading many key decisions. So taking intentional time each day becomes essential and is an integral step of burnout recovery.

During these times, take note of what needs have to be met for you to be balanced, happy, and much less stressed. Quiet time can help bring clarity to the chaos that’s been overwhelming your days. Finally, when you have small intentional moments and understand the needs that offer fulfillment, you can begin to stabilize your current situation and afford more mental health space to think about the next steps. Options exist, you just need time and energy to explore and pursue them. Giving yourself the space to do so without stress or overwhelm will help you turn discontent into a new career, a new move, or a new take on what success means to you.

Briar Dougherty is a versatile Executive, Strategic Advisor, and Thought Leader with more than 19 years of success across corporate, startup, and nonprofit environments. Her broad areas of expertise span operations, marketing, sales, talent and leadership development, P&L management, and comprehensive strategic planning to grow, course-correct, and scale business. Briar is the CEO and Founder of Career Organic, where she is fortunate to work with clients and professionals from all over the globe, including markets across the Americas, Europe, Australia, and India.

Airyauna Walker
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