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How to Tell Your Boss You’re Burned Out

3 minutes read - May 31, 2022 - by Yondu Team
Burnout typically happens when you’ve stretched yourself too thin to go beyond expectations and for many other reasons. Here’s how to tell your boss you’re burned out.

Burnout typically happens when you’ve stretched yourself too thin to go beyond expectations and for many other reasons. It’s a heavy feeling to carry each day — losing your focus, feeling confused, unmotivated, and exhausted.

The sad news is you can’t sustain this meaningless and disconnected work for very long. Not all hope is lost, though, because there are steps you can take to manage burnout.

The first step is to tell your boss.

This isn’t an easy thing to do. But chances are your boss has already noticed something is wrong, and you might need help.

If you’re struggling with exhaustion and a lack of motivation, here’s how to tell your boss you’re burned out.

4 Ways to Tell Your Boss You’re Feeling Burned Out

If you’ve been meaning to tell your immediate supervisor about your burnout but don’t know where to start, here’s how.

Talk to a colleague or friend

If you feel opening up to your boss is risky, try talking to a friend or colleague first. Keeping things to yourself only worsens burnout.

Most of the time, the internal conversations you have tend to result in unreliable conclusions. Having a few trusted friends, who are willing to listen can help change your outlook about many things.

Calibrate your feelings with someone you trust. You can even rehearse this conversation so that you can feel more comfortable when it’s time to talk to your boss.

Be clear about what you’re feeling.

It would be helpful to set the tone for a productive discussion. Being honest about how exactly you’re feeling can help your boss feel more emphatic about your situation.

You can tell your boss it’s difficult for you to bring your situation up but feel it is important. This way, he or she can be more attuned to whatever you’re going to say.

Also, try to be more specific, like telling your boss you feel overwhelmed by your workload or feel anxious about meeting overlapping deadlines. Offering specifics will help your boss understand what’s causing your stress and burnout.

Acknowledge the effect of your work on others

Your colleagues have probably noticed your stress through some flagging demeanors. Acknowledge this in your conversation with your boss by saying you haven’t been yourself lately and know it has negatively affected your team.

Don’t apologize for feeling burned out, though. Simply take responsibility for letting it impact your work and team. For instance, you may acknowledge that you’ve missed some deadlines because of the anxiety and stress you were feeling.

Ask for help

It’s easy to sound as if you’re complaining when you have overwhelming emotions. Be careful not to vent out, or worse, blame others for your burnout. This may unintentionally make you appear too fed up.

Keep in mind that this won’t be helpful. Instead, seek help and let your boss know that you’re willing to be part of the solution.

Many employees struggled with boundaries when the pandemic started, causing their social and family life to suffer. If you wish to take a break or have a more flexible work setup, specify what exactly you need and be gracious when asking.


Take some time off

Taking a break can significantly help to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you might be feeling. It also gives you an opportunity to reflect on what causes your burnout and how you plan to move forward with your next step.

A little distance from work can help you understand whether your feelings are only circumstantial and can be addressed with some routine changes. Or whether they’re a sign that it’s time to move on to a new chapter in your life.

Set healthy boundaries

You may start getting physically active again or having better sleep during your break, and this may signal early victory. Remember, though, that self-care is a long-term commitment. You have to set clear boundaries and stick with healthy routines.

Breathe and learn from your experience

Burnout can be very overwhelming, and it’s often difficult to figure out which steps to take. Your emotions may cause you to act and decide irrationally, especially when things get tougher at work.

So, take a breather and learn from this experience. It might be teaching you things you won’t learn overnight anywhere. In the meantime, take care of yourself and trust that the bad days will be over soon.

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