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How to Prevent Burnout

You've been seriously looking for a job for a few months now. Initially you were excited about it.  You would scour the job postings and eagerly apply to anything that matched your skills.  You would spend hours researching companies and modifying your resume.  When you managed to score interviews, you would spend days preparing and weeks waiting for the result.  Getting a job...the right job...means EVERYTHING to you and you will do whatever you can to be successful.  However, lately your drive has been waning.  You are exhausted and your heart is just not in it anymore.  In fact, you've lost interest in pretty much everything.  While motivation levels often have ups and downs, you could be suffering from burnout.  Burnout occurs when chronic stress pushes you a point where you cannot function personally or professionally.  People experiencing burnout are often physically and emotionally exhausted and they may even start to feel detached.  Burnout can happen to people who are unemployed and to people with high stress jobs.  If you think that you may be at risk of burnout then it is important that you take action: 

Know the symptoms.    People experience burnout in many different ways.  Some people feel complete exhaustion, while others find it difficult to concentrate.  Many people notice physical symptoms such as a loss of appetite, insomnia, headaches, or stomach pain.  Sometimes burnout impacts your reactions and your outlook, making you more frustrated and cynical. 

Take care of the basics.    When people are stressed, they often neglect the basics of self-care.  Unfortunately, this is the time when it is absolutely essential that you address your physical needs.  This means planning your meals so that you are eating lots of healthy food, getting eight to ten hours of sleep each night, staying hydrated by drinking enough water, and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.  Doing these simple things will make you significantly more resilient to stress.

Don't catch every ball that is thrown to you.   Try to remember that each item that you add to your to-do list also adds to your stress level.  When people ask us to do something, often our default reaction is "Sure!"  Dont' be so quick to add something to your plate.  Learn to say no and if something doesn't contribute to your goals, say it loud!  

Prioritize relaxation.  Relaxation is not something that you do in your spare time.  It is important to your mental health that you make time for it every day.  Do what works for you.  Whether you enjoy meditation, reading, playing basketball, fixing your car, or taking your dog for a walk, put it in your agenda and do it on a regular basis.     

Change your outlook.  Watch out for cognitive traps.  Sometimes our mind plays tricks on us and convinces that something is true when it actually isn't.  For example, if an employer decided not to hire you for a job, you might jump to the conclusion that no employer will EVER want to hire you.  This is an overgeneralization and it is simply not accurate.  Or if you attended an interview and you struggled to answer one of the questions, you might forget about all the things that you did well at the interview and only focus on the negative.  Pay attention to your thoughts and if they are negative, gently guide them in a more positive direction. 

If you are experiencing burnout symptoms, that is a good indication that you need to change the way that you are doing things.  If you try the tips listed above and you are still feeling frustrated, then it might be time to make an adjustment to your job search strategy.


Sometimes it is internal and sometimes it is external.  You may need to make a big change in your life.  You have to decide when it's time to cut your losses and move on. 

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of