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Ways to Handle Burnout as a Communications Professional

Working in a creative field like communications is a blessing. You spend your workdays crafting unique solutions to complex problems and get paid to show off your flair in internal and external communications. You also get to work with like-minded, creative folks and build a strong, energetic community around a common passion for great communication. 

But, there’s a shadow that looms large over any creative professional’s career: burnout. 

Burnout occurs when you’ve been stretched too thin for too long. This leads to an overwhelmed feeling that robs you of your energy and makes it impossible to type the next sentence or create the next set of campaign materials. 

However, all is not lost. The burnout you may be experiencing now isn’t permanent and can be resolved. So, before you throw in the towel and start looking for landscaping jobs on LinkedIn, here are a few steps you can take to rediscover your energy when the creativity runs out. 

Understanding Burnout

We hear a lot about burnout in the post-pandemic world. But what exactly is it and how does it impact communications professionals? 

The World Health Organization classifies burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” which may be caused due to heightened stress. It usually manifests itself in reduced efficacy at work, negative feelings towards your work, and a general lack of energy and enthusiasm. 

Burnout is particularly common in communication roles, as you’re constantly dealing with new and complex problems and might struggle to keep up with the speed at which technology is changing communications. 

You may also find yourself experiencing burnout if the workplace culture of your current employer is causing you unnecessary stress. For example, if you notice that your current workplace is low on social equity or fails to align with your cultural values, then you could start to feel disconnected from your peers. Simply put, poor workplace culture is a fast track to overwhelming stress and burnout.

 

Mental Health and Burnout

When you are in the throes of burnout, it can feel as though there is no way out. But burnout is usually a phase of your career in communications, not the end of it. 

To overcome burnout, you have to look after your mental health. Start by taking a serious look at the controllable stressors in your life. For example, like many creative professionals, you may have taken on extra workloads during the pandemic but are unable to carry these extra responsibilities in the long term. Alternatively, you may have taken on new personal responsibilities when the pandemic hit and are now juggling one too many balls as society slowly returns to normal. 

Alleviating stress and overcoming burnout also requires you to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. At the risk of sounding like your mother, be sure that you’re drinking enough water and are eating a balanced diet. You also need to ensure that you’re resting properly. So, make sure you strike a healthy work-life balance by detaching from work during your time off and by keeping up with healthy habits on the weekend. This means that you need to get 8-10 hours of sleep on your days off and shouldn’t feel guilty about saying “no” to social activities that stress you out. 

Adequate rest and a proper diet will give you the extra energy you need to exercise, which may be the key to burning off the overwhelming stress you’re feeling. But, if you are still feeling burnt out even when you’re well-rested and living a healthy lifestyle, you may want to speak to your doctor. Medical professionals may be able to spot underlying conditions that are zapping your energy and can put you in touch with therapists who help you advocate for yourself at work. 

 

Communicate with Your Boss

We live in a corporate culture where many employees are afraid to speak to their bosses about the issues they face at work. You may be intimidated by your manager or feel as though your problems aren’t serious enough to trouble them. But remember, your manager is there to help you succeed, and most managers are relieved when overstressed employees take the initiative and speak openly about their workplace experiences. 

When communicating with your manager, try to suggest changes to your work-related responsibilities that could be mutually beneficial. For example, if you know that writing pitches to journalists causes your gears to jam, then ask to step away from this responsibility for a while. If this isn’t possible, don’t give up and accept the “same-old” work routine. Instead, try to open up the possibility of changing the way you pitch, as it may be that your current method is the real barrier that’s causing you to experience burnout. 

In addition to shifting responsibilities, you should consider switching up your work schedule to better suit your lifestyle and responsibilities. This might sound intimidating, but managers today are aware that flexible hours are a useful motivational tool that improves loyalty, and they may be receptive to the idea of allowing you to work unconventional work hours that allow you to spend more time with loved ones or attend exercise classes. 

 

Freelancers and Solopreneurs

What if you are your own boss? Burnout can be even more devastating because you are your business. If you’re burned out on it, that can have serious effects on your income.

There are ways you can beat burnout if you are the owner and operator of your business. You can’t really step back from your own business because it would simply come to a halt if you did. But you can reach out to other freelancers and solopreneurs to discuss your frustrations and brainstorm ways to get past those issues. Sometimes, all it takes is talking to others about your burnout.

If you can, one of the best ways to combat solopreneur burnout is to outsource administrative tasks. Are there daily tasks such as bookkeeping or social media posting that are contributing to your burnout? Find professionals such as yourself who you can pay to do those things for you. If you aren’t an expert at certain parts of your business, don’t stress yourself out doing them. Outsource them.

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Burnout can feel like a dead end. But, in reality, experiencing burnout can give you the professional prod you need to reclaim your work-life balance and advocate for your health and wellbeing when talking with managers or clients. 

Handling burnout starts with an investment in your wellness. Commit yourself to living a more restful lifestyle with regular breaks that allow you to rediscover your energy. The next time you speak with your manager, ask them about shifting responsibilities and be open about the burnout you’ve been experiencing. Chances are that other folks in your office are also feeling burnt out, and a good manager will know how to help you move through the difficult period with your wellness in mind.

Want more tips on making your job as easy as possible? View our PR 101 blogs to gain insights into ways to make pitching the easiest part of your job with tips directly from journalists and top PR professionals themselves.

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Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but PR and communications topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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