How to Avoid Burning Out at Work

At some point in our career, we all experience pressure, anxiety and stress. But feeling as though you are burning out can be an indicator that it’s time to change the way you work.

Now considered as an occupational phenomenon, resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, feeling as though you are burning out at work can cause a range of problems for both your mental and physical health along with your performance in the workplace.


There are 5 simple steps of burning out, all of which are easily overlooked:

1.Constant feelings of pressure and anxiety.

With anxiety and depression becoming a bigger issue within society (especially for young adults), being anxious about going into work and about your responsibilities is a very common and serious reality. This is often one of the first signs you are burning out at work.


2. Lack of breaks during the day.

This can be as simple as not getting up to get a drink or coffee during the day, and more extreme, not having a lunch break and carrying on working at home. This is easily done with work schedules taking up the day and deadlines pressuring you to meet them. However, breaks are one of the most important parts of your day and should be taken seriously. Without breaks, you are taking yourself further into burning out

3.Physical symptoms set in.

Everyone reacts differently to stress or anxiety, but often your physical appearance and mannerisms change. If you were once the kind of person to look after yourself, then this may move to not making the normal effort when going to work. Equally, you may experience back pain, headaches, colds and sickness from general tiredness. Once the physical changes take hold it is not going to be very hard to reverse the steps.


4. Work performance may be unaffected, but your behaviour is.

While you may be feeling relatively fine and your performance hasn’t changed, some elements of you will, more than likely your behaviour. While you may not notice, your colleagues, family and friends may notice sudden outbursts of frustration, becoming more emotional or becoming quieter than normal.

5. Clients/colleagues may start to complain.

Because of your physical or behavioural changes, managers, important clients etc. may get annoyed with your attitude and how it may be affecting your work at this point. This will not help your situation and may cause even more stress and anxiety as you are trying to act as normal as you can even though you may be struggling.



Burning out can be characterised by exhaustion, negativism and cynicism related to a job or performance, happening over a long period, and can be caused by a number of things:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Unmanageable workloads
  • Lack of clarity about what a role involves
  • Lack of support from managers
  • Unreasonable time pressure

It can also cause you to drift away from things you enjoy and spending time with friends and family, it is a natural reaction to shut people out and stop doing the things you enjoy, to prioritise what is making you stressed.

Now that we know what burning out is and it causes, here are some of the ways to deal and overcome it.

Once you have realised that something needs to change, start by asking yourself some questions:

  1. Has anyone asked you to cut down on your work?
  2. Have you become angry or resentful about your work, colleagues, clients or patients?
  3. Do you feel guilty that you are not spending enough time with your friends, family and yourself?
  4. Do you find yourself becoming increasingly emotional or feeling tense for no obvious reason?


If answered YES for most of these questions, then something needs to be done to get you out of your burn out, and here’s how:

  • Prioritise your jobs – focus on what is the most important at the time and organise your jobs and responsibilities accordingly, equally, looking at how time-consuming each job means that you can get more done by managing your time.
  • Focus on what you can control – rather than focusing and stressing about what you can’t control, focus on what you can change and adjust to make the situation work for you. Give yourself a chance to take charge and make a difference.
  • Embrace Nature – GO OUTSIDE! Sitting indoors in the same place all day is being enough for anyone, so get outside for a walk, run, cycle or just to sit and relax.
  • Employers need to take responsibility – Employers targets and responsibilities shouldn’t affect staff; it is important that employers do as much as they can to help their team and make sure everyone isn’t under extreme pressure. Motivation goes further than fear.
  • Changes – With policies, jobs, responsibilities and legal changes, it is very difficult not to be stressed over the future of your job. However, this can be tackled with the correct communication with employers who can offer support or guidance. The importance of communication is greatly underestimated.

Now you understand what burning out at work means and how it can affect you, try making some changes if you are unhappy with the way you are working.

Look to find things that you enjoy outside of work and utilise that time to relax your mind, you may find it easier to take on tougher responsibilities with a clear head, rather than one filled with stress and anxiety.

Want to get involved in the conversation?

Share your company’s well-being tips as we would love to hear from you. You can tweet us using #UMGtraining @UMGTraining or find us on LinkedIn.

If you would like to discuss any of the details you have read in this blog; including our Growth Mindset training course, please contact us on 0800 014 2468 or email [email protected].

Can’t make the date?

If you can’t make the date of this course, we can run this course In-House at your organisation or a venue of your choice, on a date to suit you. Bringing your team together for a group training event is a great team-building exercise, and we work closely with you to develop a bespoke training agenda that is completely tailored to your organisation’s requirements.

Contact our In-House Training team on [email protected] or call 0800 542 9414 to find out more.