Table of Contents
- Signs and symptoms of burnout
- Who is at risk of burnout?
- 1. Adopt stress-management techniques
- 2. Focus on work-life balance
- 3. Get enough sleep
- 4. Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- 5. Identify possible sources
- 6. Break the monotony
- 7. Take a break
- 8. Accept help
- 9. Seek out therapy
- 10. Reprioritize
- In Conclusion
According to the WHO, burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
Prevent burnout at work by managing your stress levels. The physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that features burnout is caused by prolonged exposure to stress. Stress and anxiety have hit a fever pitch since the onset of Covid-19, making burnout more frequent. Covid-19 brought in a new set of unprecedented stressors. Many of us found ourselves in the midst of a radical shift in terms of work.
Remote work became the norm, blurring the lines between work and life. The result is a possible increase in the cases of burnout at work. A survey conducted by the APA in 2021 revealed that nearly 3 to 5 people employed in various organizations “reported negative impacts of work-related stress.
This includes lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%) and lack of effort at work (19%). Meanwhile, 36% reported cognitive weariness, 32% reported emotional exhaustion, and an astounding 44% reported physical fatigue—a 38% increase since 2019.” Data on the prevalence of burnout is elusive because the concept of burnout is not yet clinically separate from stress.
Signs and symptoms of burnout
You know you have burnout when you start to feel exhausted, you’re experiencing increased feelings of cynicism and exhibiting reduced efficacy at work. Extreme fatigue, loss of control, and reduced cognitive abilities are also key symptoms. Reduced motivation, difficulty in completing a task, and diminished attention span are also signs to watch out for.
Who is at risk of burnout?
Anyone can get burnout. However, you are more likely to experience burnout if you are working in a high-stress environment, or have a demanding career. Individuals with few healthy outlets to express and relieve their stress rank high on susceptibility to burnout. Personality factors may also come into play. For instance, people with a combination of low agility and low resilience are a high-risk group, since they can neither anticipate change nor temper their emotional response to it when it happens.
If you find that you experience frequent burnouts, this is what you should do:
1. Adopt stress-management techniques
Adopt and incorporate effective stress management techniques into your lifestyle. Choose whichever works best for you. For instance, some people find mindful meditation effective in curbing chronic stress. Others prefer to exercise – running, jogging, or enrolling in a gym. You can also blend different techniques to create a custom stress management plan that suits you best, depending on your specific needs.
Remember, stress is a part of life and cannot be avoided. However, arming yourself with healthy coping or management strategies will certainly help prevent burnout at work.
2. Focus on work-life balance
Allocating time for personal pursuits and spending time with family will not only prevent burnout at work but also keep the Monday blues away. Work-life balance gives you an out from the pressures of work, allowing you to de-stress and re-energize. Disconnecting from work to spend time is not only therapeutic but also strengthens your social life. There is more to life than work or career. Strike a balance between the demands of your career and your life. Remember, you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
3. Get enough sleep
The quality of sleep directly impacts the quality of our work. Individuals who sleep less are prone to making more errors at work and report higher rates of absenteeism at work.
They also experience less job satisfaction, compared to individuals with better sleeping habits. What’s more, poor sleep increases fatigue and symptoms of burnout. Ample rest, on the other hand, allows the body to recover and rejuvenate. If you are having trouble maintaining good sleeping habits, consider creating a sleeping ritual as part of your bedtime routine.
4. Eat a healthy and balanced diet
A study conducted by Markus Penttinen revealed that adopting a healthy diet into your lifestyle is associated with low levels of burnout symptoms. Be intentional about your diet. A busy schedule may expose you to the risk of skipping meals. Skipping meals is detrimental in the long-run. However, you can avoid this by setting up a meal plan.
A meal plan works more effectively with a time management plan. For instance, you may have a meal plan that requires you to have breakfast before you leave for work. However, if you wake up late, you are likely to skip breakfast as you rush to get to work on time. Avoid refined sugar. Drink less alcohol and more water. Watch the portions on your plate. Eat more greens and fiber.
Take healthy snacks in between meals. Substitute snacks with healthy alternatives. For instance, you could carry fruit to work.
5. Identify possible sources
Identify why you are getting burned out. Is it that you are spending too much time at work? Try out time management techniques. Are you taking on too much than you can handle? Set boundaries and be more assertive. Are you dealing with difficult colleagues? Work on people skills. These may be the reason you are unable to prevent burnout at work. If it persists, you may want to think about getting another job.
However, if you know that it would be difficult to get another job, you could think about how to beat burnout without quitting your job.
6. Break the monotony
Your frequent burnouts may be the result of a monotonous and demanding routine. Try incorporating some fun activities throughout the week to help you disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take an evening walk. Ride a bike.
Watch a comedy. Read a book. Be spontaneous. Enjoy the sunlight. You may be surprised at how these small acts go a long way in helping prevent burnout at work.
7. Take a break
Taking a break may at times mean disabling your phone notifications. Stay away from social media. Spend time with family. Practice mindfulness.
Taking a break is a good way to recharge and prevent burnout at work. Utilize the vacation time your organization has allocated. Make a deliberate effort to unplug from work. Use that time to nurture your talents. Indulge in a hobby. If you have important tasks, delegate them to a trusted colleague.
8. Accept help
Sometimes we take on too much work and reject help from family or friends. Be willing to request assistance from your colleagues. This can be difficult if you perceive asking for help as a sign of weakness. Other times, it may feel like you are shirking your responsibility. Recognize the root of these feelings.
Work through your resistance to accept help, whatever form it comes. It shows that you are human. It symbolizes trust in your colleagues and displays willingness to work in a team. More so, it helps prevent burnout at work.
9. Seek out therapy
A problem shared is a problem half-solved. A therapist can help you connect the dots between your burnout symptoms and the root cause. A therapist will also help you understand how burnout at work may be spilling over to your personal life and even affecting your relationships.
Sometimes, seeking the services of a therapist may be expensive or impractical. If that is the case, you may confide in a trusted friend instead. Once you identify the root cause, you can easily find an active solution to prevent burnout at work from reoccurring.
Part of adulthood is setting priorities. Without priorities, every responsibility seems urgent. Identify the most important tasks and deal with them first. Realize that not every task requires your immediate attention. Not all tasks require your attention at all. If you are self-employed, renegotiate with your clients on how much work you can take in and be willing to let go of what you cannot handle. Free some time to deal with emerging or unanticipated responsibilities that may affect your order of priorities. A prioritization tool will help prevent burnout at work.
In conclusion, remember that anyone can experience burnout. Be aware of the warning signs to watch out for. Identify the symptoms and get to the root cause. Thereafter, refer to these effective strategies, depending on the cause of the issue. Prevent burnout in the workplace and ensure that you stay productive through all seasons. Enjoy the benefits that come with maintaining peak energy levels. Relish in greater work satisfaction. However, if you find yourself experiencing burnout, do not beat yourself up. Neither should you panic. Remember that now you have the knowledge and tools to get back on track. However, always remember that prevention is better than cure.