If you’re feeling bored or sick of your job, you’re far from alone. A recent survey by CareerBuilder.com found that 45 percent of employers think workers at their organization are currently burned out on their jobs.
Aside from making you hate your job, burnout can increase stress hormones and contribute to stress-related health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure and depression.
A recent study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry identified three types of burnout: frenetic, under-challenged and worn-out.
Frenetic burnout: You feel like a workaholic, putting in endless hours on the job and you’re extremely ambitious.
Under-challenged burnout: Your work doesn’t tap into your skills and abilities, leaving you unmotivated and understimulated. You can feel like your career is going nowhere.
Worn-out burnout: You’re sick and tired of your job because you’ve been doing it for too long, or have been with the same company forever. This often leads to people slacking off on the job and being unproductive.
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight, and the solution isn’t usually a quick fix, but it’s doable. “People need to understand they have a serious problem and be willing to invest some time, energy and even money for professional help if they can't climb out of their hole on their own,” says Allan Allard, a career coach and former therapist.
Here’s what you need to do improve your job and lower your stress:
Ask your boss to prioritize. If your boss keeps handing you work, keeping you working late into the night, ask him or her to prioritize the assignments for you. You may have to lay out what you have on your plate and the time you have to do it in. Always couch it in the context of wanting to do your best on each project. And don’t feel like you have to be the hero and burn the midnight oil—being overworked leads to a lack of productivity and creativity.
Look for opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes you have to develop skills outside of your job in order to put your name in the hat for new jobs at your company, says Keith Ayers, president of Integro Leadership Institute, based in West Chester, Pa. Take classes (or online courses) to update your skills. Read articles and books to enhance your knowledge in your field.
Examine your job under a new light. Imagine you’re interviewing for your job and just starting fresh. Think about how you can do your job better, more creatively, or approach it differently. “In short, people have to learn to stay hungry, and open for new ways to challenge themselves,” says Ayers.
Do what you love outside of work. If you’re fulfilled in your personal life, it helps reduce the stressors of work. But when we work too hard, many of us end up dropping the activities we love.
See a career coach if possible. Sometimes it takes a professional to guide us out of a rut or a dead-end job. One thing you’ll be asked to do is create a new vision for yourself—something you can also do on your own. Write down what your ideal life would look like.
Take small steps. You don’t have to make grand gestures about your career—this can be daunting. Simply doing one thing, like having lunch with a friend in a field you’re interested in, or taking an online course will help you feel like you’re doing something for yourself and reduce feelings of hopelessness.
Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She blogs about the Affordable Care Act for the WellBeeFile. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.