Have you ever felt you were being pulled in a million directions juggling your job with other everyday tasks? Do small tasks feel overwhelming? Does the thought of performing the same tasks tomorrow turn your stomach? If you answered yes to any of these questions there is a good chance you are experiencing burnout.
What exactly is burnout?
According to Psychology Today, “burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.” Although, burnout is commonly associated with workplace stress, your personal life can play a role in burnout as well.
How does workplace burnout happen?
Too many tasks, working extremely long hours, or having little to no support are major causes of workplace burnout. Unexpected events can arise that affect workload and even your work environment its self. The recent COVID-19 Pandemic has left many with burnout due to changes in physical work space and additional personal responsibilities such as caring for children who would have usually been in school. Having more personal demands as well as deadlines to meet can pull your attention in multiple directions.
According to the World Health Organization, signs of burnout include energy depletion, having negative or critical feeling surrounding your job, feeling depressed or anxious, and reduced professional efficacy, as signs of burnout. If you are feeling burnout don’t worry, below are some tips to help.
Tip #1 – Get Moving & Breathing
Exercise is a proven method to reduce stress, which can help you unwind and get your mind off work. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress because it increases blood flow and the amount of oxygen that can get to your body tissues, such as your brain. Exercise causes endorphins to be released in the brain, which can make you feel happier, relaxed, and less stressed.
The American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes or more of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week. Some popular aerobic exercises include bike riding, taking a brisk walk, swimming, and dancing. According to WebMD, practicing deep breathing may also reduce stress by helping to relax the muscles. Whether alone, or with a friend start practicing joyful movement and breathe out the built-up stress!
Tip #2 – Eat a Balanced Diet & Stay Hydrated
Although your diet can seem trivial, it is very important and can have a profound effect on your mood and physical energy. Eating a well-balanced diet will provide your body and brain with the nutrients it needs to complete your daily tasks. Staying hydrated is also extremely important for brain function. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some great resources on eating a well-balanced healthy diet and staying hydrated.
Tip #3 – Get Enough Sleep
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the average adult get 7 hours or more of sleep each night. Sleep is a time when your body can recover and rest. When you are in a stressful situation even more sleep may be needed to feel fully rested, energized and alert for your day.
Tip #4 – Practice Mindfulness at Work and at Home
Being aware of how you are feeling and recognizing your stress will help you to determine when you need to take a break. Don’t be too hard on yourself, acknowledge that you are doing your best, set realistic attainable goals, and try not to overextend yourself. Most importantly, think about why you are doing what you are doing. Creating purpose out of mondain tasks or assignments can ignite passion for one’s work; if you know why, the “how to” becomes clearer and sometimes easier.
Tip #5 – Build a Support System by Asking for and Accepting Help When You Need It
Building communication into your self-awareness can open doors to coworkers or managers that can help you to be more effective at work. Ask for more resources if you need them, whether it be more time, a coworker's help or helpful resources. If it helps you meet glaring deadlines or reduce workplace stress it is worth asking. Having a support system outside of work is also very important and looks different for everyone. A support system could be your family members, a group of friends or even friends from work.
With every stressful situation, whether in the workplace or in your personal life, there are things that you can do to help yourself feel less stressed. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself. You can reduce your burnout!
Learn more about ways to reduce stress and cope with workplace burnout and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Lillian Esley, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern