5 Ways to Avoid Work Related Burnout

Work related stress is an increasing problem, affecting people around the world.

New technology and more flexible ways of working have been sold as ways of making work easier. However, the growth of smartphone technology, wi-fi and email means that for many people it feels like the working day is never over. The pressure this places on people is having a negative impact on work-life balance and wellbeing.

For example, in 2018, issues related to stress, anxiety, depression combined accounted for more than 50% of days off sick in the UK for the first time. A similar pattern is emerging in many other economies around the world. This means it is adversely affecting individual wellbeing and company wide productivity.

What is Burnout?

In 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) redefined burnout as a syndrome linked to chronic work stress. It is included in the WHO’s 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases as an ‘occupation phenomenon’ characterized by three dimensions:

– feelings of exhaustion and low energy.

– Feeling distant from your work and negativity or cynicism towards your job.

– reduced levels of performance at work.

This reclassification by the WHO was in response to the increasing reported prevalence of burnout around the world.

Here are five practical steps you can take to improve your wellbeing and reduce the risk of burnout:

1. Set Boundaries with Emails

It is important to have a clearly defined start and end point to your working day. A key element of this is discipline with emails. Focus on answering them within regular working hours rather than checking and responding to them late into the evening. If you reply to emails late at night, this increases your mental arousal levels and affects your sleep.

Easy ways to reduce this are to switch off your work phone when you finish for the day, or turning off notifications if they appear on your personal phone. By not sending and replying to emails late into the email, you will also positively impact on the wellbeing of the people to whom they are addressed. You are not pressuring them to answer emails after the working day is done.

2. Get Your Priorities Right

If it feels like your workload is never-ending, take charge by prioritizing what the most important tasks are. Make yourself weekly and daily plans, setting out your top three priorities for each period. Focus on these activities by only checking your emails and other distractions at set points during the day.

Do not do less important things until your key tasks are completed.

3. Be Active

When we are experiencing a lot of stress, it is common that unhealthy behaviours creep in as a crutch to help us deal with anxiety. This could include drinking on weeknights, comfort eating, watching lots of TV or spending hours on end on social media. While these things might make you feel better in the moment, in excess they can have a negative impact on your wellbeing. One of the reasons we do these things is also because we want something instant and comforting at the end of a challenging day and feel we don’t have the energy to do some of the things that will truly make us feel better.

One of the most effective ways of safeguarding our wellbeing is to be sure to get some exercise during the day. This could be anything from going out for a walk to doing an online fitness workout at home, visiting the gym, swimming, yoga or going for a run. Whatever feels manageable and you enjoy doing. Experiment until you find something that’s right for you.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Our sleep can often suffer during stressful times. This may be due to the things that are causing stress playing on your mind at night or indulging in unhealthy activities like too much screen time, alcohol or junk food.

A healthy volume of sleep to aim for is between 7 to 9 hours in duration. The exact amount will vary from person to person. Sleeping for less than 7 hours a night on average in the long term has been shown to have negative consequences for our health. To take back control, establish a routine of going to bed and to sleep at a similar time each night, allowing the right amount of time between turning off the light and your alarm going off to get enough sleep.

Prepare your body and mind to sleep through things like dimming lights and stopping using your phone in the run up to bedtime, and make time for relaxing activities like reading, mindfulness meditation or a hot bath or shower. All of these activities have been proven to promote sleep.

If you are not getting the right amount of rest you need, you might have to consider other factors that could be causing that. It could be that you have not found a place that can offer you all the comfort that you need. It might be a small, decluttered place that is distracting you from focusing on what really matters. Therefore, it is important to consider the ideal apartment for you. Whatever seems as ideal for you, you should go for it.

5. Make a Career Change

Experiencing symptoms of burnout is also a sign that it is the right time to make a career change. If your workload is too heavy and cannot be reduced or if it feels like you are working in a toxic environment, moving on to something else might be the best outcome. This could be doing a similar job for a different organization or shifting to do something completely different.

Although burnout can feel painful in the moment, it can often push people to make a change they may have been putting off, according to career and life coach Chris Cooper. ‘People often come to me for help when they are experiencing burnout and it regularly becomes a significant turning point for them. It can be the impetus for a career change to another industry or even setting up their own businesses.’

The important thing is to get some help so you don’t feel like you are facing a major life decision alone. A career coach can help you work out the right next move for you, helping you regain lost confidence and identify your strengths, skills and values. This is key in helping you decide on the right career path for you.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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