The feeling of being burned out at work is a very real problem that affects millions of people all around the globe. Burnout from work can significantly affect your mind and body causing you to suffer from exhaustion, anxiety, and even depression.
Besides demanding jobs that require many of us to work 8, 10, even 12 or more hours a day, we also have family commitments, chores, bills, and a multitude of other life demands to handle.
The common signs of burnout are:
• Chronic stress
• Physical symptoms of stress such as chest pain, stomach upset, headaches, etc.
• Loss of appetite
• Poor performance
If you don’t make changes, work burnout can lead to even more severe health problems such as heart attacks or strokes. If you recognize the signs of feeling burned out at work in yourself, stop and take a moment to breathe. Then make a plan to fix the problem. Nothing is beyond remedy.
Here are some tips:
1. Assess your to-do list and reorganize your workload:
We only have 24 hours in a day and it is easy to take on too much without realizing it until reality is forced on us. Don’t leave it all floating around in your head, sapping your energy. Make a comprehensive written list of it all. While this might seem overwhelming at first, it is necessary to allow you a chance to prioritize. Decide what is urgent and what can wait. Maybe there are even items you can eliminate or delegate. Be kind to yourself and be realistic about the time you have available. Once your level of urgency is reduced, you’ll be able to breathe.
2. Stay in tune with your body:
Pay attention to how you are feeling and don’t exhaust yourself. When you start to feel exhausted, it is time to make a change. You could plan a long weekend away, a day trip driving along the coast, or spend an afternoon with a good book and a glass of wine. Whatever it takes to rejuvenate, do it. Leave your sources of stress behind.
It might sound unthinkable in a day and age when we are all connected through our technology, but will the world really end if you commit to turning off your cell phone and closing your email after dinner each night and on the weekends? If that sounds like too much, try starting small with a technology-free weekend and then work up to more and longer periods of time. At the very least, avoid checking your emails and answering work-related calls once your working hours are over. You don’t want to risk getting sucked back into ‘work mode’.
4. Take breaks during the workday:
If you can manage it, take mini-breaks throughout your workday and do something to rejuvenate yourself. Try 10 minutes of meditation, a walk around the block, a few minutes with headphones and music. Whatever it takes to renew your mind. Even better, schedule these mini-breaks into your calendar as it is easy to get busy and push off that break until later. If it is an appointment with yourself, it is harder to do that.
Set boundaries around your work hours and don’t deviate from your schedule except in the direst circumstances. Learn to say no. Yes, this is easier said than done, but if you know your limits and your priorities, it will be easier. You don’t need to say yes to every request. Sometimes saying no is necessary.
You can find stimulation and purpose even if your job consists of routine tasks. Focus on what you can do to help others. Brighten a coworker’s day by delivering a sincere compliment or please a customer by being extra attentive. Take time to go out to lunch with a coworker or just take a coffee break together. Outside of work, make sure to plan for and spend quality time with your friends and family.
7. Change can be a good thing:
If you are continuously reaching the point of feeling burned out at work, it may be time to make a job change. Or, maybe the issue is that you are bored. Sign up for a new career-related task or try volunteering for a demanding assignment. Pick something that will give you a chance to acquire new knowledge and learn additional skills. You could also start a new hobby that you enjoy. It could be something you’ve always wanted to do. Rock climbing, yoga, knitting, dancing, learning a new language, etc. are all opportunities to stretch your mind and body.
At the end of the day, work is a part of your life. It is not life. Understanding the difference will help you to treat work as an important activity but not an overarching one. Find balance, begin to reclaim your life, and your burnout will improve.