Finding a hobby, changing your mindset and getting exercise can help you avoid career burnout
Don’t let your job take you down in flames.
Workers are sick of their jobs, with one in four saying they feel burned out at work often or always and another 44% saying they feel it sometimes, according to Gallup data released this year.
For some, it’s due to a bad boss or the wrong company, but for others it’s something that’s harder to tackle: being in the wrong career. And many workers — especially those with a mortgage, debt and/or kids or parents to support — feel they can’t switch careers, as that often requires you to take a pay and status cut. “There’s a lot of societal pressure to love your work and the reality is that that’s not feasible for everyone,” Los Angeles-based psychiatrist, Kirsten Thompson told Moneyish.
Of course, sometimes you think it’s your career you don’t like, but it’s really something else. So “explore why you’re feeling burned out. . . once you identify the root of the burn out, you can address it more effectively,” says Niteesha Gupte, leadership and career coach at Ama La Vida.
If it really is your career you don’t like, experts say there are things you can do to make the career path you feel ‘meh’ about tolerable — at least until you can figure out something else.
Insert activities you enjoy into your workday. When Cynthia K., who declined to provide her last name, worked in film distribution, she’d use dance music — which she loves — to overcome her feelings of burnout. “When times were tough, I’d put my headphones on and blast great music to get my head back in the game and remind myself it’s just a job,” said Cynthia.
And Peter Houghton, a 48 year-old real estate executive, told Moneyish that he’d close his office door on Friday afternoons and play guitar for a half hour. “Taking the time to do something creative, where my mind was completely focused on something else, helped me recharge at the end of the week,” said Houghton.
Focus on what you do like about your job. Gupte advises people to review, remember and reflect on what they enjoy about their job. “Think back to why you took the job and what kept you there. Do you have fun, supportive colleagues that you look forward to grabbing coffee with mid-afternoon?”
Licensed therapist Gemma Quick told Moneyish that it’s important to work on changing the relationship you have with your current job. “We can often get caught up in a very negative narrative about something we’re unhappy with and then we only see our experience through a negative lens,” said Quick. She adds that it’s rare that something is all bad and that if you start to consciously pay attention to the good or tolerable parts of your job and even find elements of your job to be grateful for, your whole experience of the situation can shift. “This might free up some energy and time to start focusing on building the career that you want,” said Quick.
Shake things up. “Consider trying a different type of project at work or participating in a social office activity. Even if we don’t feel like we have time to take on more, the change can be refreshing and can end up being energizing,” said Gupte.
Remember why you do it: “Valuing work and a paycheck because it supports one’s family is the first step in engaging in a more meaningful perspective on a career that may not seem fulfilling,” says Thompson.
Exercise. Houghton told Moneyish that when he was struggling with feeling like a burnout was near, he’d ride his bike to and from work to get his endorphins pumping. And research from Statista notes that indeed, exercise is the best way to avoid a burnout — at least according to workers ages 30 to 59.
Develop hobbies and volunteer. The next best thing to exercise to alleviate burnout? Nearly six in 10 (58%) of people say having a hobby is essential. Thompson agrees. “People enrich and deepen their lives when they find meaning and purpose outside of work,” she said. Volunteering, taking a class or developing a side hobby are just some of the examples Thompson says can make a job more tolerable.
Tap your family or social network. In the case of a burnout, 52% of people turn to family or friends to help them handle how they’re feeling about work. And in a Statista study, 59% of Americans equate having a stable family life to lessening their likelihood of burning out.
Get professional help. Nearly one in five (17%) of people seek help from a counseling center and 13% see a psychologist or psychotherapist to help them cope, according to Statista. When stress levels become overwhelming and you need an objective outlet to help process the situation, deferring to a professional can be helpful.
Find a way to leave your career that you can live with. Sometimes — despite all of your best efforts — you do need to leave your career field, but, of course, don’t want to take a huge pay cut to jump into a new line of work. So “find ways to leverage what you’re currently doing to position you for what you really want to be doing. Are there internal trainings you can participate in during the day that won’t interfere with your personal life but can bolster your skills or knowledge in one area,” Salemi said.
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