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How to K.O. Burnout Before it Wears You Down


In today’s business world, burnout is one of the single biggest risk factors in your aspirations to carve out a successful career. And if you don’t know how to tackle it, you could end up on the losing side of this fight.

What is Burnout?

We all experience work-related stress from time to time. We all have those days where everything seems to be falling apart. And, to be honest, that’s normal. Stress is natural and to be expected. However, it often morphs into something much worse.

“While stress can often lead to burnout, they are not the same thing. You are often able to identify what is stressing you out. You can see a stress-free future once you can solve those issues. Stress is about being overly engaged emotionally with work,” life coach Mark Danaher explains. “Burnout is the opposite. It is about being disengaged, unmotivated, distant from your work and your colleagues.”

Burnout is usually accompanied by several telltale signs and symptoms, including:

  • A chronic “tired” feeling
  • Self-doubt and fear of inadequacy
  • Lack of satisfaction at work (even when things are going well)
  • Procrastination
  • Boredom and an overall feeling of being disengaged

Burnout is largely a mental/emotional issue. However, it’s not uncommon for there to be physical side effects as well. This may include muscle pain, joint aches, headaches, and high blood pressure.

How to Defeat Burnout

When burnout emerges, the first instinct is to quit. But that’s not always a realistic option – at least not until you find another job opportunity to pay the bills. The better option is to fight back. And here are several tips to help you do just that:

  • Own the Problem

This might sound like overly simple thinking, but if you want to beat burnout, it starts with admitting that something is wrong. The longer you pretend you’re just “in a funk,” the worse it’s going to get. Admit there’s a problem and then own that problem. 

  • Find Balance

Burnout usually occurs when you’re spending too much time and energy working. Not only are you spending lots of time on the job, but even your time off the clock is spent thinking about your work. As a result, there’s no time left over for family, relationships, hobbies, or relaxation. 

If you want to beat burnout, you must find balance. This doesn’t mean spending 50 percent of your time working and another 50 percent relaxing. It might be more like a 70-30 split or a 60-40 split. The objective isn’t a perfect balance. You’re merely looking for healthy separation.

  • Use Relaxation Techniques

One of the best ways to counteract the stress of your job is to practice active relaxation (both in the office and at home). There are plenty of ways to do this – including guided meditation, yoga, and journaling – but let’s focus on one that you might not have heard of before: vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

VNS is basically a target method of safely and painlessly stimulating your body’s vagus nerve through a process known as neuromodulation. In layman’s terms, it’s the process of telling your parasympathetic nervous system to slow down your heart rate and release calming neurotransmitters like serotonin and acetylcholine.

The easiest way to perform VNS is by using a device like Xen by Neuvana. These proprietary headphones sync with your music to stimulate the vagus nerve while you’re working. It can take you from burnout to balance by reducing stress, promoting better sleep, increasing tranquility, elevating moods, and enhancing focus.

  • Mentally Disengage

Constant connectivity is one of the primary culprits in job burnout. Because even when you leave the office, it’s easy to stay in work mode.

“A reported 81% of U.S. employees check their work email outside of normal working hours. And, a Gallup study found that many employees are working well over 40 hours per week,” Trello reports. “It’s no wonder you’re exhausted—life can feel like it’s a hamster wheel of constant professional to-dos and obligations, with almost no breaks.”

Make a concentrated effort to disconnect from work when you’re at home. This may mean leaving your computer at the office, putting your phone in another room, or logging out of your email account. Take whatever means necessary!

Gain the Upper Hand

Don’t let burnout win! The sooner you recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout, the faster you can respond. By proactively addressing the issues at hand, you can stay focused and engaged at work. 

At worst, this helps you continue in your job until you find a more desirable opportunity elsewhere. At best, it could reignite your passion and put you back on the path toward being successful in your current position.