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It’s hard to call burnout anything other than an occupational disease. Prolonged stress experienced at work has been proven to negatively impact both physical and emotional well-being. That’s why it was included in the WHO’s 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases

And if you’re experiencing burnout, you know just how devastating, numbing, and disheartening it can be. It is a condition that demands addressing. But how? Read on.

How to recognize burnout

If you want to know how to cure burnout, you first need to recognize the signs of burnout. It’s so much more than just feeling overwhelmed, and it affects much more than just mental health.

You might be burned out if you:
  • Feel exhausted
  • Have let your performance decline
  • Harbor an overarching negative or cynical outlook
  • Suffer from regular headaches
  • Experience frequent gut pain
  • Struggle with insomnia
  • Find yourself getting sick more often

Naturally, one blog post won’t be able to conclusively diagnose you as suffering from burnout. If you’re grappling with severe cases of any of the above symptoms, it might be wise to go see a healthcare professional. They can ensure that your condition isn’t actually the result of something else such as a thyroid issue or iron deficiency.

But in the meantime, you likely want to take back some power and figure out what to do when you’re burned out. Here are some tips.

Recovery tactic 1: Refocus and relax

Work has started occupying more and more of our time, and our work-life balance is suffering. According to one study, half of all full-time employees work more than 40 hours a week, and 54% check work emails outside of work hours. This is a trend that has significant consequences: another study found that “long working hours are correlated with burnout when working over 40 hours per week.” Perhaps it’s an easy conclusion to come to, but the science is clear: working too much is unhealthy.

So the first line of burnout treatment is to set boundaries. Disconnect work accounts from your personal phone, be selfish with your time, and stick to your schedule. To whatever degree possible for you, disconnect from career-based stressors.

In the time reclaimed, make the active choice to relax. The word “active” is key here: passive anhedonia is a hallmark of lingering burnout. If a pause for quiet mental and physical healing is what you need, don’t beat yourself up — the extra time you carved out will help you rediscover the energy to get going again. But to recover from burnout, there’s nothing better than the clear, purposeful choice to engage in something you find relaxing.

This can take the form of yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness practices such as tai chi. Alternatively, you can use the new room in your calendar to spend more quality time with family members. 

AC Slamet, TripleTen grad, reclaimed his life by switching to tech

Take AC SlametA Producer Switches to Tech to Find Time for Life: AC Slamet’s TripleTen Story as a prime example of how to handle burnout. He came to TripleTen after burning out as a producer for unscripted TV, where his days were grueling. “A normal shoot day for producers would be 15 hours,” AC said. “The toll it took on me health-wise — it can be a very stressful job and obviously physically taxing because of the long hours.”

So he took the plunge, studied at TripleTen, and landed a job as a data analyst for an ad agency. Now, he has time for his family, and is helping his partner take care of their dogs. “It’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. 

Recovery tactic 2: Engage

A classic tenet of burnout is disengagement.

And to deal with burnout, it’s valuable to first of all acknowledge that your reasons for this are likely well-founded.

We don’t know your specific situation, but if you’re here, we’re betting you could explain your burnout in detail if we asked.

In any case, that disengagement doesn’t have to be permanent. There might be something in your work that you find genuinely intriguing. Maybe you haven’t had time or brainpower to pursue it yet, but pursuing your curiosity can help you overcome burnout. 

This might require a little bit of gumption on your part, though. After all, if you’re already worried about treating burnout, taking on more work might seem unrealistic, even if it would be rewarding. So work up the courage to advocate for yourself and ask for support from your colleagues and your boss. Maybe some of your coworkers can take on a few of your tasks while you engage in something new and intriguing. A good company will encourage new avenues of inquiry — after all, an employee who’s pursuing their curiosity is one who’s going to be bringing more value.

And this is the philosophy of work you can find throughout tech. In fact, many companies actively encourage their employees to seek out subjects they’re interested in. These places offer wide-ranging and comprehensive upskilling/reskilling services free of charge for their workers, and then support them as they apply their new skills in diverse fields — maybe by even bringing them to new projects better-suited to their latest skill set.

But dealing with burnout by finding ways to re-engage at work might not be the way for you, and that’s also valid. Once you gain better work-life balance, you can also choose to learn something new as a way of practicing engagement on your own terms. Spending time mastering something such as an instrument, language, or pottery, among many others, can help you re-engage by directly tethering your personal input to the results you see.

Recovery tactic 3: Influence

Another common source of burnout is a mismatch in responsibilities and influence. High expectations plus low control is a prime recipe for burnout. Just take the example of Jenny DoctorFrom Making Music to Making Commits: Jenny Doctor’s TripleTen Story, a former teacher who needed to keep her students engaged over Google Meet during the pandemic. “During quarantine, we had to go to teaching online. As you can probably imagine, trying to wrangle four year olds in a Google Meet and teaching them music was really difficult,” she said. 

She still needed to follow through on her job, but she’d lost access to the in-person toolset that had previously allowed her to thrive. It was a clear high-demand, low-influence situation, so the outcome was inevitable. “I started to get a bit burnt out with teaching,” she admitted. It was just one of many reasons she decided to switch to tech.

Jenny’s story ended well — with a new, burnout-resistant job in tech — but findings show that leaving this mismatch unaddressed can be dangerous. In a study conducted among 60-year-olds in Wisconsin, “researchers found that people in highly demanding jobs with little control over their workflow were 15.4 percent more likely to die during the study period.”

It just shows why people are so eager to recover from burnout: it’s about health at even the most basic level. So when people wonder about how to heal from burnout, it’s no different from wondering about healing from any other affliction.

One way of fixing and preventing burnout is by switching to a company at which they practice flat hierarchy. This approach holds that everyone’s opinions are equally valuable, so everyone gets to have a say in operations. This breeds independence, autonomy, and self-realization. Admittedly, flat hierarchy does somewhat increase the demands on workers, but this philosophy matches the higher responsibility with a commensurately higher amount of influence, fixing the imbalance. And you can probably guess where you can find companies with this equitable approach: tech4 Solid Reasons to Switch to Tech.

Recovery tactic 4: Recognize that it’s systemic

When talking about how to fix burnout, recommendations for the recovery process tend to focus on individual solutions. And to be fair, sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

But no amount of mindfulness will address what can be a systemic problem.

If you are consistently assigned tasks and not given the tools you need to complete them, if your company doesn’t foster a culture of trust, or if you’re regularly working dozen-hour days, a pottery class or meditation app won’t solve your issue.

So what do you do? First, look after yourself. Get out of the situation that is causing chronic burnout. That doesn’t necessarily mean quitting — maybe you can find a position on a different team within your company, for example. But sometimes, yes, the only way to address burnout is to find a new job.

You can follow AC and Jenny’s lead — they switched to tech to address their former professions’ structural issues that inevitably led to burnout. In addition, “working in tech” means so much moreForget the Giants: You Can Work in Tech Without Working in Big Tech than just working at Amazon, Meta, or Google. In fact, 59% of TripleTen grads from 2023 work at small companies, where tight-knit teams offer more opportunities for individuals to have true impact.

TripleTen can help you break into tech

But if quitting isn’t realistic for you, you can still start making your way to tech. If you want to know how to recover from burnout while still working, here’s one way: enroll in a bootcamp. You can learn a new tech profession part-time, and this will neatly address two problems: not only will you have new material to spark re-engagement, you’ll also be investing in a future in which you no longer find yourself reading articles like this one. After all, 87% of our grads land jobs in tech within six months of graduation.

So what to do when burned out? Simple: care for yourself and then invest in yourself. Take our quiz to see if a bootcamp is right for you.

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