Burnout and How To Avoid It
Stress is a fact of life. Whether it’s caused by work or general daily responsibilities, it’s not uncommon to feel worn out from time to time. Stress or exhaustion can take a serious toll on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being if not taken care of. When these feelings start to interfere with work, it’s often referred to as burnout.
Fortunately, burnout is a reversible state of mind that people manage to overcome every day. By recognizing burnout and taking action early on, it’s possible to avoid many of the negative symptoms of burnout altogether. Read on to learn more about the symptoms of burnout, how to deal with it, and helpful tips for preventing burnout from occurring in the first place.
What Is Burnout?
In most cases, burnout is brought on by working. People with burnout often feel overwhelmed, tired, or unmotivated due to the constant pressure of their job. A recent survey by McKinsey & Company found that almost half of respondents experienced moderate work-related burnout within the past few years.
Sometimes burnout comes from feeling underappreciated in the workplace or overtaxed by too many responsibilities. Given time, this stress can contribute to anxiety, depression, or developing a cynical attitude about the job. While usually a work-related problem, burnout can stem from relationship stress or family challenges as well.
How to Identify Burnout
The first step to fixing burnout is identifying its symptoms. People respond to stress in different ways and not everyone with burnout will exhibit obvious signs of having a problem. There are several telltale signs of how burnout affects men and women that many individuals report experiencing.
You’re Less Productive Than Usual
Those with burnout often notice a sharp decrease in their productivity. Tasks that were once easy to complete become tiresome and time-consuming, making it more difficult to get things done. This diminished performance can become a source of stress in itself, further adding to burnout symptoms.
You’re Experiencing Negative Thoughts and Emotions
Feeling burnt out usually comes with mental or emotional instability. This can cause some people to isolate themselves from others, making them feel disconnected from the external world. As people with burnout become increasingly distant, their work performance starts to suffer as a result. They may also encounter feelings of uncertainty, fear, or inadequacy as burnout progresses.
These negative emotions and thoughts tend to become more pronounced with time. If nothing is done to remedy the situation, people with burnout may start to develop conflicts with other employees. Others may simply quit their jobs unexpectedly if stress and exhaustion become unbearable.
You Don’t Feel Motivated
Eventually, a person experiencing burnout may start to avoid responsibilities at the job or call into work more often. Burnout can also cause workers to feel less satisfied with their contributions. As tasks pile up, a burnt-out employee will procrastinate or ignore project deadlines to minimize their workload. They may also take more breaks for longer, show up late, or leave earlier in the day. A sense of helplessness may be the main cause for many of these behaviors, while others may simply feel stuck in their current position.
Tips for Getting Through Burnout
Overcoming burnout isn’t always easy, but it’s not impossible. With a little time and effort, you can return to feeling in control of all the stress going on in your life. Here are a few helpful tips for how to recover from burnout that can put you back into a positive mindset.
No matter what’s going on, devote a few hours a week to personal fitness. Taking a walk or going to the gym can do wonders for your mental and emotional wellbeing. In addition, getting regular exercise can help to boost your immune system which is often undermined by the constant strain of burnout. If you’ve noticed yourself getting sick more frequently or simply feeling sluggish each day, it could be due to a lack of aerobic activity.
This is especially likely if you’re working a sedentary office job that requires you to sit in front of a computer all day. Find engaging activities you enjoy and establish a predictable exercise regimen. Before long, you’ll likely notice a considerable shift in your mood and attitude at work.
Get Plenty of Sleep Each Night
The average person needs at least 7 hours of sleep every night. When you start neglecting sleep, you’re more likely to become irritable, exhausted, or disinterested in work. Prolonged sleep deprivation can even cause health problems, increasing your likelihood of developing conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
If you’re feeling run down every day, consider going to bed earlier than usual to help your body recover. Whenever the stress of life keeps you up a night, drink a relaxing tea before bed or look into natural supplements that can help you establish a consistent sleep cycle.
Practice a Healthy Diet
The human body needs a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients each day to operate at peak efficiency. Try to practice a healthy diet composed of diverse foods, including different types of fruits and vegetables. While fast food may be convenient, greasy burgers or tacos for lunch every day doesn’t contain the nutrition your body needs to thrive.
Instead, consider making healthy meals at home for the work week ahead. Focus on healthier alternatives to snack on at the job, like grapes, nuts, or salad. Meanwhile, steer clear of high-sugar beverages like sodas or energy drinks that may leave you feeling drained later in the day.
Tips to Prevent Burnout
Taking action to mitigate stress is the single best defense against burnout. If you’re getting exhausted with work, it may be time to make some changes. Follow these steps to put things back into perspective whenever you start feeling overwhelmed.
Speak with Your Employer
Schedule a time to sit down with your employer to discuss how the job is impacting your mental and emotional health. Ask about reducing your workload for a time or switching roles to something less demanding. Be honest about your thoughts and feelings so your boss can find the best solution to the problem.
Ruminating about the situation will only make matters worse. Instead, try to define the stressors responsible for your burnout and propose different ideas for addressing the issue.
Commit to Taking Regular Breaks
Set a timer on your phone to take microbreaks throughout the day. Take a short walk around the building every few hours or simply step outside for some fresh air when things get hectic. Neglecting breaks to tackle more work may seem like a good idea at first, but you’ll likely find yourself feeling burnout sooner than later. The moment you start getting frustrated, make it a point to walk away for a few moments.
Start a Journal
Writing down your feelings and experiences at work can help you narrow down the source of your exhaustion. In addition, putting pen to paper can help to clear your mind of the thoughts responsible for burnout. Knowing exactly why you’re feeling run down or overloaded is essential to getting at the root of the problem. If you’re not comfortable writing in a journal at work, set aside a few minutes when you get home to summarize your day in a few paragraphs.
A simple change of scenery may be all you need to prevent burnout from happening. Think about planning a weekend getaway for yourself or a short vacation with your family. While away on your trip, avoid thinking about work and leave the laptop at home.
If possible, turn off your cellphone as well so you can focus on relaxation. The temptation to check emails or texts may be strong, but just remember there will be plenty of work when you get back home.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help
If you begin to notice signs of burnout at work, reach out to coworkers and colleagues for help. Seek out support on a current project or delegate a few tasks to others who have relevant experience.
Chances are other employees will be more than happy to assist. Although it may feel easier to simply do things yourself, this approach will likely only leave you feeling exhausted before long.
Following the tips above will help you to set the right example for your employees and you will see it trickle down to become a part of your work culture. You can also look for tools or partners to help alleviate some of the burdens you have.
Preventing burnout is a critical piece of running a business and you will find that investing time in these tips will be better for yourself and your employees in the long run.
Inner Image Credit: Provided by the author; Thank you! Top Image Credit: Kamaji Ogino; Pexels; Thank you!