By: Meredith Carr, Digital Marketing Specialist  | 7/28/2022 |

As I enter the midpoint of my career and reflect on the biggest lesson I have learned in business (thus far), the same looming topic repeatedly resurfaces in my mind; How to set boundaries and avoid job burnout.

What is this so-called burnout? Job burnout is a type of job stress accompanied by feelings of exhaustion, lost identity, anxiety, and less accomplishment. Burnout can result in an increased risk of illness, stunted career trajectory, and job dissatisfaction.

I am naturally a people pleaser, have FOMO (Fear of missing out), and want opportunities to learn and grow. So how do I set boundaries, not only for myself, but for management, to ensure I escape job burnout?

This has been an ongoing challenge for me to learn, especially figuring out when it’s appropriate to say no, and when to take care of myself. When I didn’t set boundaries in the past, I became burnt out and did not feel engaged, invested, or passionate about my work. I would also bring this stress home, which affected my relationship with my family.

It happens fast. You start taking on different projects that keep you busy, and these projects have additional responsibilities. Soon, you find yourself totally overwhelmed with to-do lists, deadlines, and your priorities begin to blur.

Knowing personal limits is the first step in being able to set healthy boundaries. How do you know where to make modifications if you don’t know there is a problem? Usually, it is too late to realize when to take a step back, regroup, and readjust your workload. By this time, you are already in the thick of it and wondering how you got there.

There will always be a rough day here and there, which is a normal part of any job. But when you start dreading going to work, feeling a lack of achievement or productivity, or you feel like you can’t “leave work at the office,” it’s time to reflect and start taking care of yourself.

So, in my humble opinion, to avoid job burnout, I suggest following these tips:

Set realistic expectations with yourself and with management.

This can be tricky but helps if you have a supportive boss and/or team. You need to think about the implications of saying yes and no. By saying yes, is this going to impede on time with what is important in your life? Is this going to dip into my family time? Is the timeline reasonable? Will I be able to give this my all? Being transparent about your limitations is so important.

Take breaks

Whether you work from home or at an office, setting yourself 15–20-minute breaks throughout the day is essential. Take a walk, talk to a friend, literally step away from your workspace. Our bodies are built to move and doing so helps us feel our best.

Take a breath or meditate

This could fall under “Taking a Break,” however I feel it needs to be another tip as it is super important. I have heard so many great things about meditation and how it can help lower stress and anxiety. I recently downloaded the Calm App, and for me it has helped clear my mind throughout the day and recharge.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor (especially helpful if available in your department) with more experience or knowledge may be able to help you work through the challenges you’re facing. Mentors offer a different perspective that can be instrumental in changing bad habits or unhelpful ways of thinking. The result of this can increase your well-being and confidence.

Ask for help

During stressful times, it’s important to reach out for help. If asking for assistance feels difficult, consider developing a self-care “check-in” with close friends and family members so that you can take care of each other during tough times.

Work-Life Balance

Is there such a thing? I think so, but again this is where you set boundaries. If your job significantly impedes the time you spend with your life partner and/or children, it may be time to reassess. You should also give yourself something to look forward to outside of work, like a hobby, an activity, or taking a trip. This is another way to take care of your mental health and yourself.

In conclusion, the best way to be a strong and reliable team member is to keep yourself happy, engaged, and healthy. Exposure to continual stress can lead to burnout; however, this can be avoided by making self-care part of your daily routine and following a few of my suggestions above. If you feel yourself getting frazzled, take a moment to reassess and stop burnout before you smell the smoke.