TripleTen experts
TripleTen.Coding Bootcamps

Is a bootcamp right for you?

Discover your ideal path to tech by taking our quiz.

Take the quiz
TripleTen.Coding Bootcamps

IT career tips

Sign up for our newsletter to get future-proof advice from tech industry experts.

Stay in touch

We’ve already touched onHow to Recover From Burnout by Switching to Tech the warning signs of burnout, how to see if you’re suffering from it, and ways to recover. But that’s only half of the equation. If you want to make sure work burnout doesn’t keep affecting your mental health, the first step is recovery, and the second is prevention.

The article linked above is about that first step. If you need to recover, you’ll find our best advice there. Here, we’re going to move onto the second step to make sure you never get into that zone of workplace burnout ever again.

So let’s start exploring some new healthy mental habits. Here’s how to prevent burnout at work.

Take a step back

When people detect signs of burnout, their first response is often to take time off. Whether that’s more extended vacation time or just a mental health day, this seems like a quick fix. 

We can turn to stats on physicians to see how this really works, thanks to a report from JAMA Network Open. This study, using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, examined the relationship between physician burnout and how many days off they took within a 12-month period. The results are clear:

There is an undeniable correlation between more days off and lower rates of burnout. Other research backs this up. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that the most effective way to prevent burnout was for employees to take a sabbatical. If a longer vacation is not possible, JAMA Network Open also showed how important it is to fully disconnect from work while on vacation.

The investigation into physician burnout examined emotional exhaustion in terms of how much work doctors did while on vacation — taking patient calls, dealing with electronic health records, or responding to emails, for example. 

The graph shows a fairly consistent correlation. Working on vacation led to higher levels of emotional exhaustion. This backs up what intuition tells us: if you’ve taken the time to relax, spend it actually relaxing.

But taking a step back doesn’t only mean going on vacation.

Another strategy to maintain mental equilibrium and stave off burnout is to nurture a healthy distance between yourself and your job. Remember that work is something you do, not something you are.

For example, consider a situation in which you’re handling numerous tasks and are asked to take on another project. Instead of accepting or rejecting the request immediately, ask for time to consider whether you have capacity. 

And if you don’t, don’t be afraid to turn it down. Reflecting an honest cognizance of your workload doesn’t automatically mean you are lazy, selfish, or not a team player. It’s just a simple assertion of truth.

Likewise, maintaining a healthy distance from the business can make you less emotionally reactive. With this separation from work, if a colleague messages you in a panic at 11 p.m. on Friday, you won’t immediately buy into their distress. 

Instead, you can ask yourself: what’s wrong? For example, if something’s broken — did the kerning in the footer go wonky? Or is the entire website down? In situations where the problem is minor, you can protect yourself from emotional whiplash and instead tell your colleague that the issue will be addressed on Monday.

By cultivating a buffer between you and your work, you’ll reduce the emotional load your job puts on you, and thus head off burnout.

Practical recommendations that anyone can try right now to prevent burnout:
  • If you have vacation days, use them.
  • Completely disconnect from your job when you’re on vacation. If that’s impossible, strictly limit how much time you spend on work tasks.
  • When asked to take on a new project, ask for extra time to consider the request. Honestly reflect on your capacity before getting back to the person.

Forge connections

This is especially important for remote workersWhat Is It Like to Be a Remote Software Engineer?, many of whom struggle to cultivate a sense of purpose in their work without an in-person network of peers. But it goes beyond that. We are social creatures, and a lack of connection is one element that significantly contributes to burnout. Statistics compiled by Forbes Advisor underline this.

In today’s more remote-friendly world, many companies are working to incorporate this employee feedback into their strategies. Teams throughout tech now encourage employees to spend time getting to know one another, and these firms are supporting employees who are eager to spearhead internal cohesion efforts.

Some teams might have weekly cocktail hours. Some might host gaming tournaments. Some might even host virtual karaoke nights. Join in! And if there aren’t community-building efforts in place, talk to your higher-ups about organizing something new. By building a network of people you trust at your company, you will establish a support system you can rely on.

This can come in handy in numerous ways.

Feeling overwhelmed? You can reach out across your network to find someone who can assist you. Just had a rough day? If you’re friendly with your coworkers, you can schedule meetings to blow off some steam about the issues you all face collectively.

In fact, according to one study, “[a] surge in teamwork quality leads to reduced emotional exhaustion and reduced depersonalization while simultaneously increasing professional accomplishment.” In other words: better teamwork, less burnout.

This strategy can extend beyond the purely professional sphere, too. Having a support network outside of work is a key element in building resilience to burnout. When you go out to pursue the activities that bring you joy, you also benefit from friendships formed out of unplanned but regular interactions. 

Thanks to the more flexible work schedules offered in tech, this new engagement is possible, meaning new connections can be made. When you cultivate a more robust support network outside of work as well as within your company, your resilience to burnout increases.

Practical recommendations that anyone can try right now to prevent burnout:
  • Join social events organized by your company — yes, even if they’re cringeworthy — or organize your own.
  • Look up in-person events/activities in your area and choose at least one to engage in per week.
  • Don’t be shy! Turn acquaintances and colleagues into friends by inviting them out for a low-pressure get-together

Invest in yourself

This might seem counterintuitive. Basically, we’re saying that burnout in the workplace can be solved by, well, more work. But there are many ways you can get active to mitigate your risk of burnout, and the results are worth the time you put in. It’s a large topic, though, so we’ll focus on three key overarching ways to fight burnout by investing in yourself:

1. Practice mindfulness

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, mindfulness interventions significantly helped ICU nurses.

Measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory, nurses who practiced mindfulness reduced their emotional exhaustion when compared to the control group. And the interventions went further.

Self-compassion rose for these nurses, while the control group actually saw a slight decrease as measured by the Self-Compassion Scale. Both graphs underline the point. By taking time to practice mindfulness, you can prevent mental burnout.

And tech companies know this. They understand that an emotionally stable person is more productive, so they make sure they nurture and empower employees by offering numerous resources that can prevent employee burnout. 

Meditation sessions led by experts, weekly lessons from yoga instructors, and even free access to mindfulness apps as part of their wellness packages — these are just some of the ways companies help their workers engage in mindfulness.

2. Upgrade your skills

One key factor of job burnout is a mismatch in responsibilities and control. This might take the form of workers being answerable for results beyond their influence, or it can take the form of workers being asked to adapt to new tools as projects advance. In both cases, there’s a solution that can mitigate the imbalance: learning.

If you land a job in a larger tech firm, you’ll most likely find a whole suite of upskilling tools at your fingertips from day one. These companies might even have whole sectors of their business dedicated to sourcing courses for their employees. 

Feel like you’re lacking influence? Your company might offer employee training on assertiveness and other key soft skills to help cultivate confidence. Feeling like you don’t have the skills in yet another new Python library you’re being asked to apply? Ask about courses in that specific library. In tech, you’ll find that you’ll hear an enthusiastic yes more often than not.

And you can pursue learning even if you’re at a smaller company that might not have baked-in training programs. Tech companies of all sizes are all about employee engagement, so ask your manager about programs you’re interested in. Chances are that if you find a seminar you want to attend, your company will be more than willing to cover the cost of attendance.

In either case, you’ll come out the other side feeling more empowered and thus less prone to burnout.

3. Engage in personal projects

According to UC Davis Health, people who spend a fifth of their time working on personal projects or ideas are more resilient to burnout. Let’s look at what that shakes out to in a typical day.

First of all, our estimates include a good 8 hours of sleep. After all, getting enough shut-eye is one of the first things you can do to ward off burnout. So that leaves us with 16 hours, a fifth of which, or 3 hours and 12 minutes, you should spend on things that bring you joy. 

Now, note: we didn’t include important elements like work, cooking, or commuting in our estimates. Depending on who you are, these tasks can either be a burden or a nucleation point for happiness. 

For example, commutes are considered irredeemably dreary. But if you’re an avid reader, you can spend this time reading (or listening to the audiobooks of) all of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

In addition, we didn’t take out eight hours for work because your job might give you unstructured time to explore your techie interests. This can also play into the 3 hours and 12 minutes of expert-prescribed daily joy. In fact, many tech companies actively support this sort of boundless inquiry. It encourages creativity, which is the lifeblood of the industry.

But zooming out: if you want to prevent burnout, this strategy is all about diving into things you enjoy. That engagement can be found at work, and it can be found in your commute, but it can be so much more. Crocheting, playing bocce ball, or honing in on the perfect recipe for Madeleines — pursue whatever brings you a sense of fulfillment. Getting invested in an activity that brings you a sense of accomplishment will make you more resilient to burnout. And thanks to the more flexible scheduling and work life balance tech is known for, you’ll have the time for this.

Practical recommendations that anyone can try right now to prevent burnout:
  • Download and explore a mindfulness app such as Headspace or Calm
  • Check out learning resources
  • Write a list of the activities that bring you joy. Choose one or two to (re)dedicate yourself to.

Make the switch to tech to prevent burnout

If you’re eager to put this advice into practice, tech might be right for you. The tech industry is known for actively encouraging employees to look after themselves so that burnout never becomes a problem.

How should you get there? Find out by taking our quick self-assessment quiz.

Is a bootcamp right for you?

Discover your ideal path to tech by taking our quiz.

Take the quiz

IT career tips

Sign up for our newsletter to get future-proof advice from tech industry experts.

Stay in touch