Are you the cause of your work stress? Burnout coach reveals potential self-sabotage

Constantly zoning out and browsing through social media at work are signs you’re causing your own workplace issues.

SAN DIEGO — A burnout coach suggests that individuals may be the root cause of their own workplace stress. Elissa Lynn posits that zoning out and “doom scrolling” are signs of this problem.

The 33-year-old became a burnout coach when she discovered that her work-related stress resulted from her own actions. Burnout is characterized by overwhelming stress that accumulates over time. Lynn realized that she relied on others’ validation, such as being called “dependable,” as her motivation. However, her constant engagement with work and feeling the need to always be “on” negatively impacted her health and well-being.

Even after a multi-vehicle collision in January 2016, Lynn’s initial concern was her work. She identifies signs of burnout as chronic migraines, shoulder tension, lack of sleep, zoning out, and doom scrolling on social media.

Now, Lynn works with high-achieving professionals to address their burnout by developing an identity outside of work and setting boundaries. She believes that individuals, especially high-achievers and those who feel guilty saying no, are often the cause of their own burnout. Simply quitting a job for a new one may not alleviate the problem.

Lynn helps others engage in more activities outside of work to improve time management, enabling them to say no to work-related thoughts during non-work hours. She also coaches people who overcommit, struggle to delegate, and agree to everything at work.

“The number one thing you have to do is admit that you are the problem. If you have been overcommitting and overpromising and quitting jobs to find yourself feeling the same way, then you need to admit your part. People don’t like to hear that, but I say that as a means to take ownership of your power. Because the one thing you can 100 percent control is you,” Lynn says in a video on social media.

“When you change your mindset, you can change your life. You give yourself the opportunity to step into the driver’s seat instead of living at the mercy of everything else you can’t control. Also, when you focus on yourself, you learn how to operate differently, which directly correlates to doing your job more efficiently, thus making your workload much more manageable.”

Man rubbing his eyes while working in front of computer, headache, eye strain, stress
(© Prostock-studio –

Elissa’s own burnout issues stemmed from feeling like she wasn’t doing enough and that there was “always more to do.” After a trip to South America, she realized she had been compromising herself for her job and that no one was forcing her to resent her work and lash out at her partner. This revelation led her to establish boundaries and learn to say no.

Upon returning to the workforce in another high-level role, Lynn worked half the amount of time she had before, while still maintaining her status as one of the best performers on her team.

“It’s essential to recognize that burnout doesn’t just happen overnight; it’s a gradual process that creeps up on you. By acknowledging the problem and taking actionable steps towards self-care, boundary-setting, and seeking support, you can regain control over your work-life balance and ultimately, your happiness,” the coach explains.

Once people acknowledge their role in their own problems, Lynn believes that identifying over-reliance on certain behaviors and setting boundaries can effectively combat burnout. She suggests reflecting on behaviors that lead to burnout, such as saying yes too much, and setting clear limits on what one is willing and able to do.

people high fiving at work
(Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash)

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Elissa emphasizes the importance of communicating and adhering to one’s boundaries, which can often be the most challenging aspect. She encourages people to rediscover themselves outside of their jobs to create a “new identity” and seek support, as it can be one of the fastest ways to overcome burnout.

Elissa also offers advice on what not to do when dealing with burnout, such as avoiding excessive lists of achievements on resumes, not relying on temporary solutions like vacations or quitting jobs, not confiding in unsupportive people, not pushing harder, not neglecting physical health, and not isolating oneself.

“Remember that it’s not just about working harder; it’s about working smarter. By identifying the triggers that lead to burnout and creating a well-rounded life outside of work, you can not only prevent burnout but also become more efficient, productive, and fulfilled in your professional and personal life.”

Elissa’s tips for overcoming burnout:

  • Admit your part in the problem
  • Learn what behaviors need to change and set boundaries around them
  • Communicate your boundaries
  • Rediscover who you are outside of your job
  • Seek support

YouTube video

South West News Service writer Jake Meeus-Jones contributed to this report.