How to accept that you're burnt out

Nov 17, 2022

The denial phase of burnout is something that no one talks about. We’re all skilled at masking our emotions and pretending that we’re feeling our best at work. But before we know it, we’re all hamsters on a wheel going round and round, trying to strike things off our to-do list. But it doesn’t have to be that way, does it?

We start showing signs of burnout even before the thought strikes our minds. So why is being in denial our default strategy? Workplaces become more empathetic when we bring our authentic selves forward. But that happens only when we eat the frog and de-stigmatise challenging conversations. And the start of all that is accepting it when we're burnt out.

A quick guide on accepting that you’re burnt out

Check in with yourself

Rewind and think if you've had moments at work where you've felt irritable, cynical, detached or demotivated. Additionally, if these are paired with physical symptoms like increased anxiety, reduced sleep or headaches, you may want to take a pause.

While these are manifestations of your burnout in mental or physical form, you might need to dig deeper to understand why you’re feeling a certain way. These reasons might stem from being unsatisfied at work, not feeling seen, overworking, or lacking work-life balance.

When you have your eureka moment of understanding why you’re burnt out, it’s time to take the next step.

Confide in someone

It’s never a bad idea to tell someone you trust how you feel. It’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Speaking openly to a trusted friend, family member, or colleague can help you identify your job stressors and check if you have perfectionist tendencies. They can also aid you in making a conscious decision to set boundaries and delegate your work with your team if possible, unlocking a shared experience.

It also helps to understand the stages of burnout. By placing yourself within a stage, you're able to better understand your situation, and get the advice you need from people who've been there, beat that!

Speak to your manager

Managers may have experienced burnout themselves. So, it’s highly likely that when you speak with them, they’re going to empathise and come up with solutions that work the best for you and your team.

Vocalising what you're going through also helps you see that, as much as it feels like you're alone in this, you aren't. Talking about burnout to a manager or team lead makes it feel all the more real and, therefore, all the more curable.

Consult a mental health professional

Recovering from burnout can be a tricky process, mainly when it affects the quality of your life and your interpersonal relationships. Here’s where mental health professionals can be your angels in disguise!

They can offer professional guidance by helping you identify causes, explore potential coping methods, and navigate any challenges contributing to burnout.

Therapists can also help you set suitable systems to help you attain your professional goals easily and identify habits that lead you to burnout.

Understand that burnout recovery takes a long time

It's crucial to not rush through your burnout recovery process; it's not a sprint to an imaginary finish line. Don't let that stop you from searching for a solution that suits your needs.

It takes much unlearning to recover from burnout, and it's perfectly alright if you still don't feel like yourself even after taking some time off. By simply acknowledging your burnout, you're already moving a few steps closer to your recovery.

So... what's next?

Accepting you’re burnt out is the first step to a journey of recovery. And such acceptance helps dig deeper into the heart of the problem instead of slapping a band-aid on the bullet wound.

Recovering from burnout requires rebooting your relationship with work. Many of us work many more hours because we sometimes don’t know what to do when we’re not working. Or, maybe you’re burned out because you don’t like your job anymore, which is okay! There are always new opportunities on the horizon. Explore them and see what feels right to you.

You’ll be well in no time. 💙

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