Let me paint you a picture. It’s 2 pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and you’re feeling stressed out, yet bored. You’re eating your lunch at your desk because you want to give off the impression that you’re working hard. You take a personal phone call and pretend to be speaking to a client because you’re driving yourself crazy with disinterest.

Your main goal is to look like you’re busy, so you don’t get into trouble with your boss. The problem is, you’re too tired to take on any additional work.

You think to yourself, “What is wrong with me? Where is my motivation?” You’ve always been a hard worker, but something about your job has become so mundane. 

If any of this sounds like you, you’re not the only one. 

A new phenomenon is circling the workplace, causing distress for employees who are feeling dissatisfied at work. It’s called boreout, and it might be happening to you.

Boreout vs. Burnout

We’ve all heard of burnout — physical and mental exhaustion caused by excess stress. This can occur when you’re so committed to and passionate about your work that you forget to take breaks, you work late, or both. 

But have you heard of boreout? You might not even realize that you’re experiencing it.

Boreout, sometimes called boreout syndrome, occurs when you’re mentally underwhelmed at work. This is a relatively unknown, but widely shared experience for people in the workplace. Whether you’re in the office, remote, or hybrid, you’ve likely become bored of your job one time or another.

So, what does that mean? While worker burnout is usually associated with the helping professions (i.e., teaching and nursing), boreout tends to occur in offices and corporations. In simple terms, you’re so tired of your daily tasks that you have become perpetually bored and have little to no energy.

I’m Bored at Work, But How Do I Know If It’s Boreout? 

Many people go on working without realizing that they are experiencing boreout. They think that they are simply bored at their job, and there’s nothing they can do about it, but that’s just not the case. First, answer these questions to determine whether you have boreout:

  • Do you feel that there is an absence of new duties or challenges during your day-to-day at work? 
  • Do you get the feeling that you’re overqualified for your position?
  • Is the initial job description different from the actual work that you are doing each day?
  • Is there a lack of responsibility in your job?
  • Are you suffering mentally or emotionally as a result?
  • Are you experiencing overwhelm and/or exhaustion?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re likely on the cusp or in the trenches of boreout.

I’m Experiencing Stress at Work, So It Can’t Be Boreout — Right?

You may be thinking that you can’t possibly be experiencing boreout if you have anxiety or workplace stress. If you’re stressed out, you’re not bored, right? Wrong. It’s important not to get boredom and boreout confused. While the former feels easily fixable, the latter causes added stress and anxiety

For example, when you are dissatisfied with your job, you might then become frustrated with yourself. This can lead to anxiety and social withdrawal at work. You may lose the desire to act professionally. You may lose self-esteem because you feel an emptiness from your job. This can pour out into your personal life, too. It can even lead to depression. 

You may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, a weakened immune system, and insomnia

I’ve Passed the Boreout Test: What Strategies Can I Use to Cope?

Don’t worry, there are ways to cope with this extreme level of job boredom: 

  1. Talk to someone. It’s extremely important to talk to a friend or even your manager. Talking to a licensed therapist might be even more beneficial, as they can help you identify the root cause of your boreout. After getting to the cause, a therapist can help guide you through solutions tailored to your specific needs.
  2. Take a break and set boundaries. Give yourself a moment to breathe. If you are working from home, you may not realize the imbalance of your work life and social life. These blurred lines may be negatively contributing to your mental health. Set time limits for work and personal tasks, establishing clear boundaries for yourself. 
  3. Try something new. Have you been seeing posts about DIY projects that you’d love to try? Maybe there’s a fitness class nearby that catches your eye? How about that book club that some of your friends are in? Learning new skills and trying new things can boost your mood and give you a sense of productivity.
  4. Take stock of your life.You must listen to your body’s reaction to certain tasks. Does the idea of your work goal make you feel tense or anxious? If so, move on to something else. Focus on goals that make you happy, inside and outside of work. Does every task at work make you cramp up? Maybe it’s time to consider a new career. It’s never too late!
  5. Start a side hustle. If number 4 sounds like you, it might be time to think about your passions. So many people are leaving their unfulfilling corporate jobs to start their own careers. Freelancing is a great way to productively use those creative juices that you may have abandoned during your day job. Copywriting, blogging, and graphic design are just a few examples of freelance paths that can wake you up from your boredom. 

Don’t Let Boreout Solutions Cause You More Stress

It is crucial to understand this. It’s okay if you follow these steps and accidentally get off-track. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s okay to give in to small distractions. Being overly critical of yourself is only going to cause you more anxiety, which will lead to more boreout. 

We’ve all heard the saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” The same goes for stress. Do not stress yourself out trying to relieve yourself of stress. Take a pause, take a moment. If you give yourself grace and time, you can resolve the stress you feel from boreout syndrome.

The world we live in is different from that of the past. Workplace duties and responsibilities have changed. Expectations have altered. We are experiencing more stress at work than ever before. It’s okay to have boreout syndrome. You can–and you will–recover, but go easy on yourself.

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