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Job burnout is becoming shockingly common, especially among young professionals.
Practicing as an optometrist for the past seven years, I definitely experienced many symptoms of job burnout. I used to be ashamed to talk about this problem because I felt like it’s taboo. But once I decided to open up, I realized that so many other young professionals resonated with what I had to say.
I wanted to share my personal experience and thoughts in hopes that it will encourage you to make a positive change in your life.
Millennials Are at High Risk for Burnout
As an older millennial, I remember life without a cell phone or the internet. Things were so much simpler then.
Now, we are expected to have our smartphones at all times. If someone emails you at 9:00 PM, you’re expected to respond. If an employee texts you at 6:00 AM with a problem, you have to get out of bed and take care of business. We are constantly on the go and our brains rarely have an opportunity to turn off.
Then there’s the pressure to fulfill expectations that older generations place upon us. We are expected to accomplish more than they did. Go to college, get a graduate degree, find a professional career. Buy a home and have kids. All with crushing amounts of student loan debt and soaring costs of living.
How is a millennial supposed to deal? It’s no wonder that so many millennials feel burnt out just thinking about it.
My Story of Job Burnout
Like most other health professionals, I started out with optimism. “I made it through eight years of school! I get to be an optometrist and help people! I finally get to make good money! I can be an independent adult now!” It all sounded very nice.
I soon found that this was not reality at all. Over the years, I’ve worked at several different practices. I was significantly underpaid at one practice, especially considering the high cost of living in Los Angeles. On top of that, upper management expected me to do extra work, out of the scope of my job description.
At another practice, I found myself driving through stressful traffic on my daily 50-mile round trip commute. The staff didn’t respect me. My boss didn’t appreciate me. They even tried to give me a hard time about using my rightfully earned vacation and sick days. This is just scratching the surface of all the crap I had to deal with at work.
At that time, I was waking up every morning filled with dread and sometimes going home crying because I felt so frustrated about my career. My only consolation was that my friend was working at the same practice and she was feeling the same way I did. We both knew we needed to get out of there.
Once I found another full-time job, I quickly jumped ship. At my new job, the pay increase and great benefits seemed too good to be true. I found myself thinking, what’s the catch? But I didn’t care, I was just happy to be out of my old job.
Soon, I found out why I was getting paid that much. I had to see a very high volume of exams, getting only ten minutes between each exam. I felt like a robot, just going down a factory line. I tried to say something to management about feeling overwhelmed, but I was disregarded.
Long story short, I held on as long as I could, but I knew I was burnt out. This was no way to practice, and I felt I was doing a disservice to patients. We all deserved better than this.
4 Tips to Overcoming Job Burnout
After years of dealing with sleep problems, constant fatigue, digestive issues, backaches, and anxiety, I saw a doctor who told me my stress hormones were through the roof. I decided I needed to do something. I hated feeling unmotivated and like I didn’t have anything to look forward to. I didn’t want to spread that negative energy to the people around me.
I’m still working on it, but I am definitely happier I decided to make some changes in my career. Here are some of my tips on overcoming job burnout.
Slow Down Your Pace
Cutting my work back by one day a week is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel less overwhelmed and have more time to pursue other interests and side hustles. If you’re not ready to go part-time, there are other ways to slow down.
Maybe consider taking on fewer projects at a time. This might also mean talking to your employer about your work schedule. It’s better to be more productive while working fewer hours, versus spending long hours where you’re tired and less productive.
Don’t forget to take breaks during work. If you are able to take a power nap mid-day, even better!
Share Your Feelings
If you are burnt out, chances are the people around you feel the same. You don’t need to deal with burnout by yourself! Talk to your colleagues, you might be pleasantly surprised at how good it feels to share your feelings. Sometimes just having someone to commiserate with can lift a burden off your shoulders.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to coworkers, open up to your friends or even seek professional help. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health! It’s all tied together.
Eat Right and Exercise
Regular exercise is great for stress reduction. When you workout, your brain produces endorphins which can help improve sleep and reduce stress. You’ll also have more energy.
Trust me, I really dislike working out, but I’ll spend just 10-15 minutes to do a quick workout and it makes a big difference. When I hit that afternoon slump, it really wakes me up and leaves me energized!
Also, try to avoid turning to junk food after a tough day at work. Ultimately, you’ll feel better if you eat something healthy that won’t make you feel more tired. Here’s a list of foods to eat for stress relief.
Find a Hobby or Side Hustle
This is probably my favorite tip! It is so rewarding to develop other skills and interests, especially when they’re not directly related to your job. Find something that makes you come alive. A good place to start is to think about what you were good at or really enjoyed as a kid. Seriously, there’s a good reason for this!
For example, I’ve always loved writing, and this blog is so therapeutic for me. I look forward to working on it every week! As a result, I don’t dread my work as much because I have something to be excited about. A hobby is a great distraction when work is frustrating you.
Having a hobby or side hustle makes your life much more meaningful. After all, our careers should not define us! And who knows, maybe you’ll be able to make money off your side hustle and be able to cut back on your job. You’ll have more time to spend with friends and family. You’ll also have more time to invest back into your hobby or side hustle!
You Can Overcome Burnout
I know burnout can be overwhelming. Hopefully, these tips will give you a place to start and improve your life. Just remember, you made it this far, and you are more than capable of overcoming your burnout. You can do this!
Please don’t hesitate to talk to someone or to ask for help. If you have any questions for me or just want to chat about burnout, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me here!