At some point or another, we have all experienced stress on the job. Yet what happens when the stress takes over and starts to define your workplace experience, causing you to dread coming to work each day? Workplace burnout can take many forms and happens to the best of us, no matter what field we are in. Maybe you are just starting a new position and want to show your boss that you can handle anything thrown your way. Maybe you work for an organization that is understaffed or in high demand and your days are riddled with looming deadlines and daily overtime hours. The daily grind of piling projects and long hours can make it seem like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done and still have a life outside of work. These are all common factors that can lead to burnout on the job.
Here’s a list of seven powerful tools to help you tackle burnout at work.
REACH OUT AND SEEK SUPPORT
This is the perfect time to reach out to trusted colleagues, friends and loved ones to communicate your feelings and know you are not alone. They can offer support, advice, and ideas that may help you cope and spark a new approach. You can also take advantage of an employee wellness program, such as Fitspot, for stress management workshops and skill building. If you have gotten to the point where you feel completely overwhelmed by burnout symptoms, seeking out a licensed therapist is very beneficial, as they can personally guide you.
Communicating your concerns to your supervisor is also worth considering as you may be able to work together to alter expectations and find the perfect compromise or solutions. Awareness, open dialogue and honesty are the first steps towards creating positive change.
Have you ever noticed that you may too often begin each work day with a bright outlook of what you plan to complete that day, only to be buried in new assignments by that afternoon? You suddenly find yourself feeling so overwhelmed that you lose sight of where to start and how to complete what feels like an insurmountable mass of projects? The answer is to regroup and evaluate priorities by making a list! There is no shame in partnering with your supervisor to understand what elements are the most crucial and time-sensitive versus what can be temporarily placed on the back-burner. This also instills the feeling of small accomplishments throughout the day as you get to cross off items on that list once you have completed them. Alan Trivedi from Forbes Coaches Council supports this notion and advises, Regroup your thoughts by writing down everything you are working on. Partner with your manager and prioritize what is most important now. Start from the top and identify what is feasible for you.
CREATE BALANCE AND BOUNDARIES
The Mayo Clinic reports that ignored or unaddressed job burnout can have significant consequences, including:
- Excessive stress
- Sadness, anger or irritability
- Alcohol or substance misuse
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Vulnerability to illnesses
By creating a healthier work-life balance, you can combat and prevent future job burnout from happening. This is so important since overworking bleeds into our personal lives, affecting everything from our diet to our exercise regimen, and our sleep cycle to our social life. You have to make time for YOU. How? Take charge of making time for healthy activities outside of your work. This may mean you have to reorganize your schedule to make room. For example, Beth Kuhel, from Get Hired, LLC, also on the Forbes Coaches Council, advises, Get up earlier or take a mid-day break to engage in regular cardio exercise or to mediate. Use this renewed energy to volunteer in an area that aligns with your values and personal interest.
Never forget that you are more than your job. It is unhealthy to have your personal identity completely wrapped up in your job title or workplace. Therefore, it is imperative that you implement healthy boundaries between work and home. This means sometimes you have to fight the urge to answer that email, text or phone call after work hours and pick up where you left off during the next business day. Kyle Elliot from Kyle Elliott Consulting adds, Frequent invasions of work (emails, calls, texts) into your home life are bound to lead to burnout. Leaders need to set clear boundaries with staff, then both model and uphold those same boundaries, to prevent burnout among themselves and their staff.
Regular exercise is a great way to dissolve stress and take your mind off work. According to Psychology Today, cardiovascular exercise has been shown in studies to significantly reduce burnout symptoms in as little as four weeks. If your workplace offers on-site wellness programs like Fitspot, this is the perfect opportunity to take part in a feel-good break. Our fitness classes are low or high-intensity, and not only help you shed some stress, but also re-energize you for improved productivity without the burnout symptoms!
TRY A RELAXING ACTIVITY
Sometimes the best approach is to slow down and reset your energy through mindful activities like yoga, tai chi or meditation. These practices help you achieve a feeling of calm and steadiness and a keen awareness of your body so that you can better navigate tense situations and learn how to incorporate mindfulness in everything that you do. Studies show that yoga, for example, can significantly improve emotional exhaustion. Massage therapy has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, Fitspot’s 10-minute chair massages are a perfect way to step away from the desk.
Explore different ways to nourish yourself and fill yourself back up. This may be getting a soothing massage or finding your own perfect essential oil blend to help calm your senses. Or it may mean carving out time in the evening or on a weekend to meet up with friends or even going to see an art exhibit or movie by yourself. It can be a very empowering and freeing experience to discover what feeds you and recharges you to be your best self. Just simply getting outside and taking a walk in nature can do wonders. The natural light, sunshine and fresh air are wonderful ways to rejuvenate your senses and reduce cortisol levels.
GET SOME SLEEP!
Never underestimate the powerful role a good night’s sleep plays in not only your immunity and energy levels, but also your emotional state and outlook. Insufficient sleep is a major contributor to experiencing burnout over time. Allow your circadian rhythm to guide you and know when it’s time to put down the phone, close the computer and get some shut-eye. Tomorrow is a new day and your productivity relies on the body’s ability to rest and recharge overnight.
Most of us are quick to label burnout as a dead end. However, realize it can also be the launching pad for a new beginning. Give yourself a time-out: find a quiet, peaceful place where you can reflect and let your thoughts play out without judgement. This is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate your individual professional goals, understand and define your limits, and truthfully gage how this particular job is aligning with your innermost self, intended path and ambitions. This open reflection is also so powerful in identifying your areas of strength and weakness and how you can personally improve. Then it helps to consider your “why.” Ask yourself, Why am I in this industry? Why did I accept this job in the first place? By practicing intention and mindfulness, you will be able to sift through the grit of any situation and find your purpose.