8 ways to avoid burnout

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Burnout isn’t just a sign you need a vacation, it’s a psychological response to consistent stressors, both on the job and at home. So while you likely won’t be able to get your boss to turn your 7-to-7 into a 9-to-5 or get your parents to stop asking when they can expect grandkid number one with out some dramatic changes, you can take steps to prevent burnout.

1. Readjust Your Own Expectations

If you were expecting that your B.A. in English was going to turn into a staff writer position at The New York Times the day after graduation, then it's time to readjust. Everyone has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is generally at the bottom of the pack.

Keep your head held high, and know that proving your competency at even the most menial tasks while maintaining a positive and professional attitude will help keep your career moving in the direction you want.

2. Learn How to ‘Manage Up’

A dysfunctional office dynamic is one of the leading causes of burnout, and issues with a superior are the most stressful. Learning how to “manage up” will help you deal with a boss who is mean, hypercritical, or insecure as well as help you figure out the most effective way to reach her expectations.

3. Realize It’s Okay to Say No

Employees who try to be everything to everyone and who are always working to their most-efficient max are extremely at-risk for burnout.  Additionally, the worst thing you can do for your career is to overpromise and then under-deliver, says expert and Great on the Job author Jodi Glickman. However, there’s a right and a wrong way to say no.

4. Quit Comparing Yourself

We all have that one Facebook friend who seems to have three months of vacation time, the money to spend those months traipsing across Europe, and the model fiancé she’s traipsing with. Forget her. While healthy comparisons can help you determine exactly what your goals are, “comparisonitis” will ruin your finances and your happiness as you endlessly try to keep up with or one-up your friends or family members.
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5. Make Sure You Take Your Vacation Days

Americans will give up roughly 226 million vacation days this year. Don’t be one of them. One report found that 48% of workers felt happier and more positive about their workplaces after taking a vacation. Since feeling cynical about your office is one of the key causes of burnout, taking a vacation is an easy (and fun…and potentially margarita-filled) way to keep yourself going.

6. Develop Your Interests and Hobbies Outside of the Office

Is your self-worth and identity solely based on your work? If so, you’re highly at-risk for burnout. Devoting time to your interests and hobbies outside of the office will make you a happier and more well-rounded individual. If you can’t remember the last time you indulged in a hobby, think back to what you enjoyed as a child or teen. Consider joining a sports team, picking up a foreign language or volunteering.

7. Take Breaks

Take some time to recharge during the day. Pause your work to help you maintain good eyesight, or take a walk to help you stay in shape, even when you don’t have time to hit the gym. Alternatively, ask a co-worker out to coffee. Establishing positive relationships at the office will make you happier and help you live longer. (Seriously, science says so.)

8. Take Time to Evaluate Your Career Path

If you’ve been chugging along on the same path for a long time and are feeling signs of burnout, take the time to consider your career. Have your values changed since you first started in your profession? Or is it that the values of your particular company or employer have changed? Are you not being sufficiently challenged—or are you overburdened? Ask yourself the tough questions to help you figure out the next step that’s right for you and your long-term goals.