Lost your work mojo? It might not be burnout

Far from feeling rested after a holiday, we can still feel burnt out and unmotivated at work. But these tips may help.

Just had a summer break that, rather than leaving you feeling rested, has left you exhausted?

Clinical psychologist Dr Aileen Alegado says feeling like you need “a holiday after a holiday” isn’t uncommon.

She says in busy holiday periods (think Christmas) many people don’t actually get downtime on their break – which can affect the body.

“This might mean our nervous system continues to run under stress and, as a result, we go back to work without having had the rest we expected to have,” she says.

“In some cases, our cortisol levels are even higher than before the break, leading to burnout.”

Cortisol is the naturally occurring hormone that normally increases at times of stress and is responsible for our “fight or flight” response.

Prolonged periods of stress may not only lead to increased cortisol levels but also result in burnout, where you may feel exhausted, irritable, trapped and negative about the work you’re doing.

Are you burnt out at work or just bored?

If you’re dragging yourself out of bed and into the office every day it might not necessarily mean you’re burnt out.

According to BARE Therapy founder, counsellor and author Tammi Miller, you might be experiencing “bore-out”.

“Ultimately, both (burnout and bore-out) stem from lack of satisfaction,” Tammi says.

“If you’re bored, you may feel your work is unrewarding, like you’re just going through the motions.

“You might start to feel numb and careless and though your contribution doesn’t mean anything, which can cause you to lose focus on the task at hand.”

How to reclaim your work mojo after burnout

Understanding if you’re truly burnt out or just bored, disengaged or even overworked is the first step to getting back to your normal self.

“Getting to the core of what is causing your fatigue is the first step as it could mean you need to explore different avenues to create solutions,” Dr Alegado says.

“Simply taking more time off work may feel like a ‘Band-Aid’ for some, as it’s not addressing deeper issues.

“What is important is an understanding that after your break you will also need to implement changes in your work environment and your mindset.

“Re-examining your lifestyle factors can help make you feel empowered to get your mojo back.”

And when you’re planning your next break, Tammi advises intentionally finding the time to do things that bring you joy.

“If you’re on holidays and just replace one menial task with another – such as managing kids, diaries, social schedules or the guilt of not getting through your latest read – you’re not truly rejuvenating,” she says.

“While it’s important to manage these responsibilities, it’s also imperative that you carve out time to do things that ‘fill your cup’ and bring you pleasure purely for the sake of it.”

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Written by Chelsea Spresser.