Struggling to cope with workplace stress? Feeling burned out in your current work environment? Grappling with due dates, deadlines, and an influx of emails – well beyond your scheduled 9-to-5?
Workplace burnout is reaching epidemic proportions among today’s non-stop, hustle-and-grind, hyper-connected society. According to a recent Gallup study, 23 percent of full-time employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes – a dramatic increase over the past 20 years.
Although feelings of burnout often coincide with working long hours, you don’t need to be clocking serious overtime to experience the ill-effects of overwork. Working just 45 hours per week can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health.
Ironically, many people experiencing burnout don’t even realize anything is wrong. Instead of taking their symptoms seriously, they chalk them up as normal work stress or just a typical part of the job.
So, what does workplace burnout look like?
More Than A Bout of Busyness
According to the World Health Organization, job burnout is characterized by 3 key dimensions: 1. feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2. increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and 3. reduced professional efficacy.
Signs of Workplace Burnout Include:
- Brain fog
- Mental/physical fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Increases in mood and sleep issues
- Frustration with colleagues, working conditions, and workload
- Reduction in creativity and productivity
- Frequent episodes of “zoning out” during the workday
- Recurring illnesses and/or delayed recovery
If any of the above apply to you, you might be experiencing work-induced exhaustion. To help prevent workplace burnout, implement these proven self-care practices…
6 Ways to Avoid Burnout in the Workplace
1. Work Smarter
Working extremely long hours doesn’t make you better at your job or more productive. In fact, a recent study from Stanford University revealed that productivity per hour declines drastically when a person works more than 50 hours per week. To avoid burnout, be strategic about time management. Identify the most important tasks at work and only concentrate on completing those objectives. Then, once those have been completed, focus on the next most pressing assignments.
2. Take Regular Breaks
Your brain is only able to remain focused for about 90 minutes before it loses steam and needs a break. Pushing yourself past this point actually reduces cognitive performance and lowers your ability to problem-solve. By taking regular breaks, you give your brain and body a chance to recover and reset. It’s recommended that you take a 15 to 20 minute break after every 90 minutes of intense work.
3. Keep Moving
Physical activity is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain and body healthy. Exercise activates the same pathways in the brain as morphine and increases the release of endorphins, your natural feel-good neurotransmitters. Taking a 10-minute walk can help improve your mood for up to 2 hours. Staying active at work helps keep your body fit and your mind sharp.
4. Speak with Your Manager
Endless to-do lists? Unreasonable workload? Not enough time in the day to get the job done? Make an appointment to speak with your manager about how you’re feeling. Describe the imbalances you’re experiencing and propose solutions for how your effectiveness might be improved. In a healthy work environment, pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion isn’t what gets rewarded…honesty is.
5. Establish Healthy Boundaries
Technology has made it possible for people to remain in constant contact with each other. It has also created work environments where employees are expected to respond instantly to requests. By being perpetually plugged-in, many are unable to rest and recharge. To disconnect from work and avoid job burnout, master the art of saying no. Employ healthy boundaries, turn your notifications OFF after work hours, and designate certain times (like weekends) and places (like the dinner table) as “work-free zones.”
6. Get Quality Sleep
Sleep is critical to your health, happiness, and brain function, so don’t skimp on it or let your work cut into those precious hours. It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function optimally.
Whether you’re on the cusp of burnout or already operating on fumes, it’s never too late to take charge of your physical and mental health. Applying these tips can help reduce workplace burnout.
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