Do you dread going to work every day? Do you feel that, no matter what you do, no one will ever appreciate your efforts? While it’s normal to have an “off” day once in a while, you may suffer from job burnout if you feel this way most of the time.
Burnout typically manifests as emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by continuous involvement in stressful situations over a long period. That’s why health care professionals — who often work long hours and deal with life-and-death situations — frequently have a high risk of suffering from this condition. If you don’t pay attention, job burnout can cause serious physical and psychological problems and even lead to changes in your personality.
Follow these seven strategies to avoid burnout at work before it’s too late.
1. Adjust Your Attitude
Because quitting and looking for a new job isn’t always a practical solution, it’s important to find ways to focus on the parts of your job that you truly enjoy. For example, even if you find your work unfulfilling, you might always look forward to seeing your colleagues.
In addition, think about what made you choose this particular job in the first place. Was it merely the promise of a paycheck or did you once see a deeper purpose? Finding true meaning in what you do can inspire you while bringing greater control and purpose to your life.
2. Establish Your Priorities
When you run yourself ragged working day after day, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Take a closer look at the tasks in your daily calendar. Are all of them absolutely necessary and worthwhile? If someone asks you to take on more work than you can handle, talk with your boss about prioritizing your assignments and discuss potential solutions to reduce your workload. For example, find out if you can delegate some of your responsibilities to another team member.
Finally, learn to say “no.” This is especially important when you receive unreasonable demands or requests that don’t align with your priorities.
3. Get Enough Sleep
If you work in a high-pressure, corporate environment, you frequently may have to stay late to complete a project or travel across time zones for meetings. While these situations are an unavoidable part of modern worklife, they can play havoc with your sleep. Without enough sleep, people can experience irritability, tiredness, and poor decision-making — all of which contribute to a general feeling of discontent.
A good amount of sleep — between seven and nine hours for most adults — gives your body and mind a chance to rejuvenate and recuperate for the next day. Start by setting a sleep routine and following it consistently. Ideally, you should wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. In addition, make sure your bedroom provides an ideal place for relaxing. Finally, check out these excellent tips for better sleep from the Mayo Clinic.
4. Exercise Regularly
While it may seem counterintuitive to take time out for exercise when you have so many things on your plate, physical activity can actually help you. Exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body while stimulating the production of endorphins that promote relaxation and a positive mood. Exercise also gives your energy levels a quick boost so you won’t feel so exhausted anymore.
Having friends at your workplace can make a long, boring workday more fun. In fact, many companies encourage employees to use lunchtimes and coffee breaks to socialize and bond with their colleagues because these interactions not only boost employee motivation and job satisfaction, but also help them better manage stress.
It’s equally important to socialize outside the workplace. Make a plan to meet your friends for a weekly dinner or a movie. Alternatively, sign up for activities like a hobby club or a regular meetup to help you socialize more often and make new, like-minded friends.
6. Spend Time With Family
If your work-related troubles often cause your family to take a backseat, it’s time to make some changes. Close friends and family members can provide a great source of emotional support and comfort — even if they don’t fully understand your work. In fact, research suggests that high levels of family support directly predict lower levels of job burnout in both men and women.
You might surprise yourself by how relieved and unburdened you feel after talking to someone who can listen to you with an open mind. So, try to find ways to include more family time in your routine. Make family dinner together a priority, and keep your weekends sacred. If possible, ask your family to join you on long work trips so you can spend more time together.
7. Take a Break
Taking a complete break from work once in a while is good for your soul and your sanity. Make sure to completely unplug and switch off from everything related to work. If you keep checking emails and answering phone calls, then it’s not a real break. Resolve to shut down your laptop and log off from all work-related apps on your phone when you’re away. If you’d like, set up an automated email response that lets people know you’ll reply to their message when you return from vacation.
Recognizing the symptoms of job burnout is the first step toward finding a solution. Watch out for warning signs like extreme exhaustion, a constant feeling of being overwhelmed, frequent backaches and headaches, anger and irritability, and changes in your eating and sleeping habits. As long, grueling hours and cutthroat competition slowly become the norm across the corporate work environment, it’s more important than ever to heed the signs of burnout and take timely action to avoid mental or physical breakdown.