How To Prevent Burnout in the Workplace

Nicky Cullen
Dec 30, 2017 · 8 min read

New Year, New You — Whoop-de-doo! Another year is upon us, and with that, there’s no better time to undo all the shit from last year and carve out a new plan to make this year the best one yet — adjust the kinks in the armor so to speak. Most of us have given consideration to what it is we want from the year to come. So let’s talk about that.


Permission to speak for all: we want peace. World peace would be nice but that ain’t happening, so would you settle for peace of mind? Peace, unfortunately, rarely gets served on a platter — you have to work for it. And you need to do it in a way that diminishes as much stress as possible to prevent burnout which is counterintuitive to what many believe. Must do more! But look at the results? Surely a counterintuitive approach is worthy of your consideration.

You must work to survive, but ridiculous demands, office bullying, perfectionism, and immense pressure from parents, peers, employers, and yes, you, all contribute to a vicious cycle of inner turmoil. This includes “personal development” articles specifically designed to make you feel “mediocre” and less of an individual for not accomplishing more than “ordinary” folk. There’s no greater awareness than self-awareness and you need to be aware of it all because it’s all mass conformity which essentially means you are serving others, and not yourself. I can’t believe I just said that, but I truly believe that buying into all this bullshit and the glorification of busy, will only create more stress in your life, and a gale force of your shit spraying towards the fan.

Burnout in the workplace is a major problem which spills over into everyday life. An epidemic in itself — if weed is a gateway drug — burnout is an express ticket to panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and far too often, suicide. Some stress is certainly good for you, but the fuckers it can partner up with are most certainly not. There’s a fine line between a good life and an awful one, and with such high stakes, a little planning around prevention can go a long way. As a side note: if you currently find yourself in the latter category, change is absolutely possible so be sure to read on, and if it’s directly correlated with work, check out this article.


You guessed it: work. The so-called path to “success” has been laid out long before we were born with little deviation in spite of the tech explosion, and a massive cultural shift which leaves many people asking questions they can’t seem to answer. This path to success — it would appear — focuses solely on money, and while we know money doesn’t buy happiness, we continue to try and buy it.

I can’t take it anymore!

Our desire for success and happiness, along with a distorted view of what that is, paradoxically, creates significantly more stress for many, and ultimately ends up fucking them. You can’t tell me someone’s successful if getting up every morning fills them with dread. And yet so many live their life this way. You don’t have to. Burnout should not be your reality.



At the end of each day, take five minutes to write, evaluate and plan the day ahead. Consider it a brain dump so you leave any shit behind you that you’d usually take home. Now you can leave the office with clarity as to how you’re going to attack tomorrow’s tasks for maximum productivity. On top of that, your subconscious will get to work on coming up with solutions on how to best manage any challenges you face, all the while as you sleep.


Sitting at your desk all day is not only bad for stress — it’s a disaster for your overall health. Best practice suggests getting up at least once an hour for two minutes. If stress levels are high — get some fresh air, go for a walk with a colleague, take an extra long trip to the bathroom if you have to, but get yourself away from that desk to break any negative emotions bubbling beneath the surface.


The soothing power of music is well documented. Listening to slow, classical or chilled-out music is incredibly relaxing for both the body and mind. It has a unique link to our emotions, so can be extremely effective in decreasing the levels of stress hormones.


I sound like a parrot on repeat I go on about this so much, so I’ll say no more. Sign-up to my mailing list and I’ll send you an easy to follow guided meditation to help restore calm to your mind.


I broke all my rules and sat down to about 13 hours of work not so long ago. I hardly got up, drank about eight cups of coffee, and as a result, I was a nervous wreck at the end of it all. Caffeine is a stimulant, and if you consume too much, it can bring on anxiety. By all means, enjoy your morning coffee, but know the more of that shit you put into your system, the more likely you are to experience adverse effects. There is an endless supply of delicious herbal teas worth considering as an alternative which promote good health.

I don’t understand what’s wrong with me?


I used to be of the opinion that the sooner I went to sleep, the sooner I had to go to work. And I didn’t like that because I didn’t like work. So I’d deprive myself of sleep to put off work. Stress, focus, mental clarity, and productivity will all take a hit if you are sleep deprived. On top of that, a lack of sleep can contribute to many serious diseases in the long run. Take time to unwind — turn off all distractions, unplug from social media, grab your favorite cuddly toy, wrap that bastard in your arms and sleep as if you’re a narcoleptic. When your alarm goes off — count down from 5 and get the fuck up. Immediately. No snoozing. There is a tonne of science as to why this is a deadly habit I can’t go into right now, but basically, we sleep in cycles and by snoozing we drift off into another one which we then interrupt while screwing ourselves for hours in the process. You should aim to get enough sleep so you wake up naturally with your alarm.


Problems will always arise. How you respond to them is what matters. Focusing on what happened, placing blame, or allowing yourself to get worked up, will only increase stress and prolong the punishment. What’s done can’t be undone. The only question you should be asking yourself is, “what’s the solution?” Once you’ve figured that out — execute on it.


Don’t suppress any frustrations as they will only manifest into greater frustration. Communicate to your manager or colleagues if something isn’t working out for you. Even though it might not be fun, asserting yourself will be rewarding and the conversation in itself will be liberating. It might also provide you with everything you are looking for. Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment. Once you’ve analyzed the situation and given it due consideration, explain your frustrations with a halo on your head and always bring a solution with you. “You’re being a dick. I don’t appreciate it. Stop being a dick.” Easy!

There’s a thought!


Stress accounts for roughly 60% of all lost days in the workplace. If you are burned out as a result of the pressure put on you at work, you should add to this statistic. You read that correct. Controversial maybe, but how are these statistics even available and nothing is being done to curtail them. Your employer may not agree, but if you force yourself to keep working when you’re already burned out or on the cusp, you’ll soon find yourself very sick. And panadol won’t help you then, so do yourself and your boss a favor, and take a few days to rest. Just don’t take the piss. Or do! Up to you.


This is of utmost importance — both in and out of work. This is probably the most important component of happiness. Even if you hate your job — going home to friends you love, and laughing about how much you hate your boss while you plot his murder ain’t that bad.

Work on making real connections with your colleagues also. And avoid as much negativity as possible. Don’t get sucked into office politics and allow that negativity to bring you down.

11. QUIT

If all else fails and you’re doing something you can’t stand — you shouldn’t be doing it. If you’re working with, or for people you don’t get on with or that treat you like shit — you shouldn’t be working with them. There is no magical formula besides two magical words, “I Quit.” I’m not saying to lash out and quit. I’m saying to plan ahead and quit. Your options are endless. It might seem like a pain in the ass, but in doing so you’ll prevent a major one in the future.


There you have it. Appreciate all you have every day. Create balance in your life: time for work, time for rest, and time for play. Honor them all and you’ll be far more productive and happy in all facets of life. Now get out there and make 2018 your best year yet. And when you fuck up, worry not, we all do. Revert to point 7, unfuck that which got fucked and march yourself the fuck forward.


If anxiety is something you struggle with, subscribe below for free access to the anti-anxiety micro-course covering 5 fundamentals for a better life. I’ll also send you a copy of my book!

Sign me up for the free course now.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Nicky Cullen

Written by

A lot of people struggle greatly with anxiety. I used to be one of them. Now I help others fast-track their recovery. Find out more @

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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