How to Deal with Workplace Burnout
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work? Are you also unproductive, and can’t seem to find the energy to start even the smallest tasks? You might be suffering from burnout. Burnout has been a common and pressing issue in the workplace, especially with people now working more hours than ever, and with the rising technology that makes us truly unable to “switch off” from work.
Recently, the World Health Organization has classified burnout as workplace phenomenon. They defined it as “a symptom conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” They have characterized it by three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy
When you experience burnout, it may seem like there’s no way out of it. However, there are many ways to alleviate it.
Identify the cause of burnout
Take a step back and figure out why you are feeling burnt out. Is it the long hours? Heavy workload? Lack of career development or growth? By finding out the cause, you will be able to adjust accordingly. If it’s the long hours and workload, try talking to your boss, and see if you can find solutions or compromises to keep your hours and workload more manageable. If you feel unfulfilled with your job, take steps to find the right fit, either by moving up, changing roles or completely changing careers.
Take a step back and figure out why you are feeling burnt out. Is it the long hours? Heavy workload? Lack of career development or growth?
Take breaks while working
Research shows that the human brain can only truly focus for 30 to 45 minutes. To maximize your productivity, and to keep you from feeling overwhelmed while working, try taking a 5 minute break after working on a task.
Or take a long vacation
Taking time off for several days to a few weeks can be very helpful for stress relief. Aside from the mental health benefit of allowing you to recharge and relax, it can also improve your physical health. Studies show that taking vacations reduce the risk of heart disease, and can help improve your sleep.
Having hobbies and activities can help you unwind after work, and can reinspire and reinvigorate you. While working 8 hours on the weekdays might not leave you with a lot of time (to say, go hiking or mountain climbing every week) you can try some fun and inexpensive hobbies such as knitting, calligraphy, painting, cooking, learning a new language, etc. These hobbies allow you to utilize different parts of your brain, and can also give you an opportunity to widen your social network.
Exercise can not only improve your overall health and physique, but can also improve your mood. Physical activities help your body produce endorphins, a “feel good” chemical in your brain that boost your mood and reduce stress. Try going to gym, play tennis, jogging, yoga or even try walking for an hour a day. What’s important is you find an activity to enjoy and do regularly.
Work might take up most of our time, but remember that you should be working to live, not living to work. If you are experiencing too much stress, take it seriously and try to find solutions. Don’t let a job undermine your health and happiness.