Beat Career Burnout: 4 Steps to Regain Control and Well-being

Atticus Li
Finding a job
August 30, 2023

Feel like your work is sucking the life out of you? You’re not alone — 62% of North American workers report high levels of workplace stress and burnout. This blog post will guide you through understanding career burnout, recognizing its early signs, and effectively breaking its vicious cycle.

Ready for a change? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • A state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion caused by extreme work stress, leading to symptoms of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.
  • There are three types of burnout: frenetic (overworking), underchallenged (lack of stimulation), and worn-out (high stress with minimal rewards).
  • It is important to recognize the early signs of burnout, such as persistent fatigue, physical symptoms like headaches or muscle tension, lack of motivation or engagement at work, and feelings of cynicism or ineffectiveness.
  • The stages of burnout at work include the honeymoon phase (initial excitement), onset of stress (increased pressure and overwhelm), chronic stress (prolonged exposure to high levels of stress), burnout (chronic physical and emotional exhaustion), and habitual burnout (persistent feeling overwhelmed and drained).
  • Individual factors that contribute to job burnout include lack of experience, high expectations, perfectionism, imposter syndrome, poor work-life balance, limited support systems or mentors.
  • Job burnout can have serious consequences on both physical and mental health including coronary artery disease, hypertension, sleep disturbances depression anxiety. It can also lead to reduced job satisfaction decreased productivity limitations in career growth.
  • To break the vicious cycle of burnouts individuals should acknowledge the problem set boundaries prioritize self-care seek support from others.

Understanding Work Burnout

A debilitating state that can occur as a result of extreme work stress, characterized by symptoms of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.

Definition of job burnout

Job burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion often coupled with feelings of cynicism, detachment from the job, and ineffectiveness in work performance. It’s not just about being overly tired or having a tough week at work; it’s an ongoing condition where you constantly feel depleted, disengaged and unproductive for a prolonged period.

Identified by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, this occupational phenomenon has been increasingly recognized by health organizations worldwide — including the World Health Organization (WHO), which officially classified it as an occupational syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress in 2019.

Symptoms include energy depletion or fatigue, increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job — all culminating in reduced professional efficacy.

Three types of burnout: frenetic, underchallenged, worn-out

Burnout at the workplace isn’t just limited to one type; it can take on various forms depending upon the individual’s experiences and job conditions.

  1. Frenetic burnout: This type of burnout happens when an individual overexerts themselves at work, pouring all their energy into their tasks without maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It’s often seen in people who are perfectionists or have a Type-A personality, pushing themselves to overwork and neglecting other aspects of their life. The result is severe exhaustion and a sense of disillusionment with work.
  2. Underchallenged burnout: On the contrary, underchallenged burnout is experienced by individuals who feel stuck in unstimulating jobs that don’t offer enough challenge or personal development opportunities. The monotony of the job leads to lack of motivation and engagement, making them feel entrapped in such a draining environment that hardly offers any rewards for their efforts.
  3. Worn-out burnout: This third kind of burnout is experienced when someone consistently faces high levels of stress or receives minimal rewards, despite giving their best at work. The constant pressure without proper recognition makes them worn out, leading to energy depletion and reduced professional efficacy.

Recognizing the early signs of burnout

Noticing the initial symptoms of burnout could be a turning point in your professional life. You may feel persistently drained and fatigued, even after ample rest, manifesting physical symptoms like headaches or muscle tension — signs not to be ignored.

The emotional cues might include feeling overwhelmed by work tasks and struggling with motivation levels that were once second to none. It’s common to fall into the trap of cynicism about our job or colleagues when experiencing early-stage burnout, often coupled with inefficacy — the sense of being ineffective at work despite considerable effort.

Watch for these changes in patterns; they are subtle cries for help from your mind and body signaling burnout on the horizon.

The Stages of Burnout at Work

The stages of burnout at work include the honeymoon phase, onset of stress, chronic stress, burnout, and habitual burnout.

The honeymoon phase

During the honeymoon phase of job burnout, individuals may initially feel excited and energized about their work. They are motivated, eager to prove themselves, and willing to go above and beyond.

However, as time goes on, the excessive workload, deadlines pressures, and high expectations start taking a toll on their well-being. The initial enthusiasm starts to wane, stress levels rise, and signs of burnout begin to emerge.

It’s crucial for individuals to recognize these early signs during the honeymoon phase in order to prevent burnout from escalating further down the line.

Onset of stress

The onset of stress is a crucial stage in the development of burnout at work. As job demands increase and individuals struggle to meet expectations, feelings of pressure and overwhelm start to take hold.

This can manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches, increased irritability and frustration, and difficulty concentrating or staying motivated. The onset of stress marks the beginning of a slippery slope towards chronic stress and eventual burnout if not addressed promptly.

Recognizing these early signs is vital in order to intervene effectively and prevent further deterioration of well-being.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is a key component of burnout at work, and it plays a significant role in the development and progression of burnout. When individuals are consistently exposed to high levels of stress in their jobs, whether from heavy workload, deadline pressures, or interpersonal interactions, it can lead to a state of chronic stress.

This prolonged exposure to stressors can result in physical and mental health issues such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. It also contributes to feelings of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy — the hallmark symptoms of burnout.

In fact, a survey revealed that 62% of North American workers reported experiencing high levels of stress and extreme fatigue. Therefore,it is crucial for individuals to address chronic workplace stress in order to prevent or recover from burnout.


Burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion that can occur when someone experiences extreme and unrelenting work stress. It is characterized by three main symptoms: exhaustion, cynicism or detachment from work, and feelings of inefficacy or reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout can have significant negative impacts on both physical and mental health, including increased rates of coronary artery disease, hypertension, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

Research has shown that burnout rates can range from 50% among medical residents to as high as 85% among financial professionals. Prioritizing self-care and seeking support are essential steps in breaking the vicious cycle of burnout and taking control of one’s well-being.

Habitual burnout

Habitual burnout occurs when the state of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy becomes a chronic condition that individuals experience on an ongoing basis. It is characterized by a persistent feeling of being overwhelmed and drained at work, leading to decreased motivation and performance.

This type of burnout can have serious consequences for both physical and mental health, contributing to illnesses such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.

Recognizing the signs of habitual burnout is crucial in order to take proactive steps to break the cycle and regain control over one’s well-being.

Causes and Risk Factors of Job Burnout

- Various individual factors can contribute to early burnout, including personality traits like perfectionism and a Type-A personality, as well as lifestyle factors such as sudden illness or being a primary caretaker.

Individual factors in early job burnout

  • Lack of experience and feeling overwhelmed by new responsibilities
  • High expectations and pressure to succeed
  • Perfectionistic tendencies and fear of making mistakes
  • Imposter syndrome, feeling inadequate or like a fraud in the workplace
  • Difficulty establishing work — life balance and setting boundaries
  • Limited support systems or lack of mentors to provide guidance
  • Lack of self-awareness and ability to manage stress effectively
  • Inadequate coping mechanisms for dealing with workplace challenges
  • Poor time management skills leading to an overwhelming workload.

Consequences of job burnout

Job burnout can have serious consequences on both physical and mental health. Research has shown that burnout is associated with an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease, hypertension, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and even substance use.

These health outcomes can greatly impact not only the individual’s well-being but also their ability to perform at work. Burnout can lead to reduced job satisfaction, decreased productivity, and even long-term career limitations.

Additionally, individuals experiencing burnout often feel a sense of futility and alienation in their work environment. It is important to address burnout early on to prevent these negative consequences from taking hold.

How to Break the Vicious Cycle of Job Burnout

To break the vicious cycle of work burnout, it is important to acknowledge the problem, set boundaries with others and yourself, prioritize self-care and wellness, and seek support and help when needed.

Acknowledge the problem

To break the vicious cycle of work burnout, it’s essential to first acknowledge the problem. Burnout is a real and debilitating condition caused by extreme work stress, leading to exhaustion, cynicism, and a sense of inefficacy.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout is crucial in taking control of your well-being. These symptoms can include chronic fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, lack of motivation or pleasure in your job, and even physical health issues such as hypertension or sleep disturbances.

By acknowledging that you are experiencing burnout, you can begin to take proactive steps towards recovery and prevent long-term consequences on your overall mental health and personal relationships.

Set boundaries with others and yourself

Setting boundaries with others and yourself is a crucial step in preventing and managing work burnout. It involves clearly defining what you are willing and able to take on, both at work and in your personal life.

This means learning to say no when necessary, delegating tasks when possible, and prioritizing your own well-being. By establishing these boundaries, you can avoid overextending yourself and feeling overwhelmed by excessive workload or unrealistic expectations.

Additionally, setting boundaries helps create a healthier work environment where colleagues understand and respect each other’s limits, ultimately reducing the risk of burnout for everyone involved.

Prioritize self-care and wellness

Prioritizing self-care and wellness is essential in preventing and recovering from work burnout. Engaging in activities such as hobbies, relaxation techniques, and regular exercise can contribute to overall well-being.

Making dietary changes, such as reducing sugar and increasing Omega-3 fatty acids intake, can help boost mood. Taking time off and prioritizing well-being is crucial in preventing burnout.

By paying attention to your physical and mental health needs, you can better manage stress levels and maintain a healthier work-life balance.

Seek support and help when needed

In the face of job burnout, it’s crucial to recognize when you need support and not be afraid to ask for help. Seeking support can come in many forms, such as reaching out to friends or loved ones for emotional support or seeking professional guidance from a therapist or counselor.

Additionally, finding a mentor or coach who can provide guidance and perspective on navigating the challenges of your career can be incredibly valuable. Remember that you don’t have to go through this alone — there are people out there who want to help and support you in your journey towards overcoming burnout and taking control of your well-being.

Four Steps to Take Control of Your Well-being

- Reframe how you look at your job to find meaning and purpose.

- Reevaluate priorities to focus on what truly matters.

- Prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly.

- Seek support from others who care about your well-being.

Step 1: Reframe how you look at your job

To break the vicious cycle of job burnout, it’s crucial to start by reframing how you look at your job. Instead of viewing it solely as a source of stress and exhaustion, try to shift your perspective and find meaning in what you do.

Recognize the value and purpose behind your work, focusing on the positive aspects that align with your passions and goals. By changing your mindset and cultivating a sense of fulfillment, you can begin to regain control over your well-being and break free from the grip of burnout.

Remember that finding balance and satisfaction in your career is not only essential for your personal happiness but also for maintaining long-term success.

Step 2: Reevaluate priorities

To break the vicious cycle of work burnout, it is crucial to reevaluate priorities. This step involves taking a hard look at what truly matters and making changes accordingly. It may mean letting go of unnecessary tasks or responsibilities that are causing stress and focusing on activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

By reprioritizing, individuals can create more time for self-care and relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation, as well as engaging in hobbies they enjoy. Additionally, making dietary changes such as reducing sugar intake and increasing Omega-3 fatty acids can boost mood and overall well-being.

Reevaluating priorities is an essential step in regaining control over one’s well-being and preventing burnout from taking hold.

Step 3: Lean on self-care

Step 3 of taking control of your well-being and breaking the cycle of work burnout is by leaning on self-care. Prioritizing self-care is crucial in preventing and recovering from burnout.

This includes focusing on good sleep habits, nutrition, exercise, and social connection. Research has shown that practicing self-care can have a significant impact on reducing stress levels and improving overall mental and physical health.

It acts as a powerful tool to combat burnout and promote well-being. By making time for yourself and engaging in activities that recharge you, you are better equipped to handle the challenges of your job while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Step 4: Turn to others who care about you

One crucial step in taking control of your well-being and breaking the cycle of work burnout is to turn to others who care about you. Seeking support from family, friends, and colleagues can provide a much-needed sense of emotional support during times of burnout.

Research has shown that having a network of supportive individuals can help alleviate burnout symptoms and promote overall well-being. Additionally, seeking out rich interpersonal interactions can combat feelings of isolation and create a sense of belonging.

Furthermore, seeking support from coaches and mentors can be beneficial in addressing burnout and finding strategies for recovery. It is also important for leaders to address burnout on their teams and create a supportive environment that prioritizes employee well-being.

Real-world Stories of Overcoming Burnout

Real-world stories of overcoming burnout serve as powerful reminders that it is possible to break free from the grip of career exhaustion and reclaim a sense of well-being. These stories highlight personal journeys where individuals recognized and acknowledged their burnout, took proactive steps to prioritize self-care, and sought support from others.

One such inspiring story comes from Hannah, a marketing manager who found herself overwhelmed by the constant demands and pressures of her job. Recognizing the negative impact it was having on her physical and mental health, she made the courageous decision to reevaluate her priorities.

Hannah set clear boundaries with both herself and her colleagues, learning to say no when necessary and carving out time for activities that brought her joy outside of work. Through therapy sessions and mindfulness practices, she also developed healthy coping mechanisms for stress management.

Today, Hannah has regained a sense of balance in her life, thriving both personally and professionally.

These real-world examples demonstrate that breaking free from job burnout requires intentional efforts towards self-care, setting boundaries, seeking support systems, and shifting one’s mindset.

By incorporating these strategies into our own lives, we too can take control of our well-being and find renewed energy in our careers.


In conclusion, breaking the vicious cycle of career burnout requires proactive steps to take control of your well-being. By acknowledging the problem, setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and seeking support from others, you can regain balance and prevent burnout from taking over your life.

This guide has illuminated effective strategies for breaking free from the cycle of work burnout and embracing a more fulfilling professional journey. By conscientiously following the four outlined steps, you’re poised to take control of your well-being and drive your future success.

Moving forward, keep in mind the potential support of Jobsolv. They possess expertise in leveraging technology, smart matching for job searches, and they have proven track record at tailoring your resume and cover letter. Their 30-day interview guarantee reflects their commitment to your career growth.

Also, remember that your mental and physical health should always be a priority in order to maintain a sustainable and fulfilling career.

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