Feeling unmotivated, lackluster or like you’re burning out at work? Once the buzzword of the ’90s, work burnout remains a big physical and psychological problem today.
A recent study found that 95 percent of HR managers polled said burning out at work is a significant factor when it comes to employee engagement and retention. Worse yet, burnout is a driving force behind up to 50 percent of employee turnover each year.
David Ballard of the American Psychological Association describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance,” as reported by Forbes. It’s a bit like work malaise: Symptoms include exhaustion, lack of motivation, problems with attention or concentration, a lack of taking care of yourself and a declining interest in work or cynicism about your job. Left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your job performance, your relationships in and out of the office and even your health.
Strategies to Avoid Burning Out at Work
So, how can you cope when feelings of burnout take hold? Here are a few strategies to help you stay sane and recharge your inner batteries.
- Take Relaxation to the Max: When you’re in the midst of a personal crisis, it’s time to take relaxation up a notch. Spend your weekends in relaxation mode, and take a few days off work if possible to recharge and regroup. Look for ways to increase your downtown enjoyment, whether that’s reading more, pursuing a creative endeavor or binge-watching Netflix. Now’s the time for a massage or other self-care pursuits.
- Meditate: If you’re not a fan of meditation yet, now may be the perfect time to park your butt on a pillow. In fact, meditating at work can be one of the best ways to cope with work stress. Taking just five to 30 minutes during the day where you can close the door or find a quiet space to just sit and be can ease feelings of burnout.
- Unplug: You’ve heard it before — too much electronic connectivity is not conducive to chilling. And chilling is what you need more of to combat burnout. So, set up some device-free zones by turning off the ringer for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Establish a Rich Personal Life: It’s one thing if work is stressful; it’s another thing altogether if work is all you have. Creating a rich personal life with family, friends and personal hobbies gives you something to look forward to. If your calendar is packed several nights per week spending time with the people you love, going on fun outings, meeting new people or socializing, you’ll have other interests to lift your spirits.
- Get Plenty of Sleep: Tiredness begets burnout. Get to bed at a decent hour, and make getting enough rest a priority.
- Focus on Your Body: If you want to battle burnout, you need to be in top fighting shape. Improve your energy with exercise, healthy food and staying hydrated. Make small changes that lead you away from neglecting yourself and back toward making your health and well-being numero uno.
- Take Stock at Work: Make a list of the areas that contribute to burnout, and tackle them one by one. Do you need to talk to HR, hire an assistant or cut back on hours? Plan and implement the needed change.
- Cut Back: If you’re spreading yourself too thin, cut back on commitments that drain you. Stick with those you can happily fit into your life and enjoy.
- Get Support Where You Can Find It: Finally, gather your support system. Call in friends, relatives and co-workers who make you feel better when times are tough. These are the folks you can lean on so you don’t have to go it alone as you battle burnout.
Remember: Your job is just a job. Your well-being is more important than your deadlines, and you can’t get those projects done well if you don’t take care of yourself first. So go ahead: Treat yourself to a bubble bath, get a good night’s sleep, and get back to enjoying your life — and your job — to its fullest.