Top Tips to Avoid Burnout

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“The wealth of business depends on the health of workers.” Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization (source).

Businesses have invested thousands in the training for and the promotion of ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace’ – it’s a huge buzzword at the moment, but what does it actually mean? To put it plainly, wellbeing is the state of feeling comfortable, happy and healthy. 

So, how are you feeling today?

We are all guilty of burning the candle at both ends from time to time. Do you ever feel like you’re giving 150% of your efforts but you’re struggling to meet your deadlines? Your creativity is stifled. You may feel like you’re drowning in the productivity peer pressure of your work environment. Well, fear not. Chances are you’ve burned yourself out a little, but there are a few coping tactics that you can employ to get you back on track. 

Take your lunch

Working through lunch may make us feel like we’re being more productive, but it’s mentally exhausting. Even if you don’t take your whole break, getting away from your desk for as little as 10-20mins will help to recharge your productivity and boost your mental wellbeing. 

Keep active

It’s no secret that exercise helps to boost both physical and mental health. Studies have shown that people who engage in regular exercise have more energy, sleep better and have sharper memories (for more information about the positive benefits of exercise and mental health, click here).

Not all of us have the energy (or the abs) to hit the gym every lunch break, but something as simple as daily 10 minute strolls on your lunch, walking to the train station instead of driving or (if you can) opting for the stairs instead of the lift is enough to keep you on your toes. 

Switch off 

With technology offering us limitless email chains, cloud computing and telecommuting, you don’t even have to be in the office to carry on working. That’s why it’s important to set workplace boundaries as to when work should begin and end. Take some time out to focus on yourself and your wellbeing – whether that’s taking up a new hobby, binge-watching eight consecutive episodes of that brand-new TV show or booking yourself in for a luxury massage. Whatever it is that enables you to escape and relax.

Try to avoid checking work emails out of work hours or whilst on annual leave and if you need to work from home, set out a designated area for your work – this will make it easier to switch off / leave it behind and stop you from negatively impacting your work-life balance. Yes, there will be certain deadlines or peak periods where you may need to work a little overtime but try to keep late nights to a minimum, don’t let it become your norm. 

Talk about it 

Sometimes it feels like you’re the only human this side of the sun working yourself into the ground, but if you ask around you will probably find that people you know are in the same boat. Whether that’s colleagues who are likely to have the same workload or even friends who work in entirely different sectors - workplace stress is not a new trend – sometimes all you need is a good vent. 

Communication is also key for building interpersonal relationships, which, is integral for creating an inclusive work environment. Invite your colleagues to take a wander on your lunch, attend as many networking events as you can, even a brief catch up by the coffee machine is enough to start building a rapport. I’m not saying you have to make everyone your best friend but having someone in your industry that you can talk to is invaluable when it comes to reducing work-related stress. 

Tidy desk tidy mind

Remember when you were younger and you spent an afternoon rearranging your bedroom, walking in out of it to see how it would look to visitors and inviting your parents to come and see your brand-new play space? Apply that same sense of pride to your workspace. De-cluttering and reorganising your workspace can be almost cathartic. We’ve all been there, surrounded by a sea of unruly wires, pens and post-it notes. Surrounding yourself in clutter only proves to add to your stress, so having a weekly clear out is a great way to alleviate your anxiety.

Celebrate the little successes 

We have all suffered from a little imposter syndrome at some point in our lives. Confidence in yourself and your abilities comes with time and encouragement. If they’re work-related, share your accomplishments with your team and your superiors. It may seem strange at first but making subtle mentions about your contributions will make sure that your efforts don’t go unnoticed. 

Even at home, making to-do lists a day ahead gives you a set list of goals to achieve - like cooking dinner, heading to the gym, cleaning out your car. Productivity does not begin and end at work. Give yourself a pat on the back for the little things too, you’re getting things done.

Ask for help

Unresolved work-related stress will negatively affect your productivity, your decision making and your wellbeing, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you feel as though your workload is becoming overbearing, speak to your direct line manager or supervisor. If you feel like you are becoming increasingly more stressed and it is affecting your mental health, speak to your HR function. Taking time out to focus on your mental health and wellbeing can only ever positively affect your job satisfaction and productivity, which will benefit yourself and your employer. 

Studies have repeatedly shown that happier, healthier staff produce more and better-quality work - so look after yourself – work smarter, not harder. People are the most important resource that any business can have. Without people, businesses couldn’t function so we must create inclusive workspaces where employees feel that they are valued.