The Balancing Act...

How to Avoid Burnout At Work

Our society is completely set up for burnout at work. We are constantly pushed to do more, be more, and achieve more. Staying at work till all hours of the night is worn like a badge of honour. And while rates of depression and anxiety are skyrocketing, our work culture continues to become more demanding. 

The problem with doing, doing, doing, is that we rarely have a moment just to be. We burn the candle at both ends, and our relationships and wellbeing suffer. If we're always focused on what's next on our to-do list, or who's working and achieving more than us, we can lose perspective on why we're working so hard in the first place. Keeping this kind of pace means that we're often preoccupied, and not in the here and now. Allowing ourselves to be more connected with the present moment, is crucial for not only increasing our enjoyment of life, but also to combat the nasty knock on affects of burnout. 

What does burnout look like? Well it looks a bit like this.. 

  • Difficulties concentrating or restlessness - fidgeting has become your new hobby and procrastination is your best friend
  • Constant lethargy or fatigue - even the floor starts looking comfortable
  • Lying awake at night staring at the ceiling despite feeling totally exhausted
  • Getting easily agitated or frustrated - even the way your colleague eats her sandwich is enough to make your lose it
  • An overwhelming sense of dread when thinking about going to work - and counting down every second once you're actually there
  • Having an elaborate (or just simple) escape fantasy - you’re seriously contemplating goat farming
  • You feel cynical or disenfranchised - your go-to topic is how much you hate work or your boss
  • You feel like you could cry at the drop of a hat
  • You start doubting yourself and second guessing your decisions 
  • Regular sickness - both feigned and actual
  • Zombie brain has well and truly set in - coming home and feeling totally depleted. Even a “how was your day” conversation feels too hard

If you have said yes to all of the above, or even some of the above, here are some tips on how to manage and reduce your burnout.. 

But first! As with all things, it’s about you making a choice to take care of yourself. It's about noticing when you are starting to feel fatigued and choosing to create time for yourself. This stuff doesn't have to be complicated or arduous... it's a simple decision. What's more important? Meeting that deadline and answering that email at 2am… or…. your long term wellbeing and the health of your relationships? The HOW of managing burnout is relatively simple, it's the CHOICE that trips most of us up… Ask yourself - am I willing to make my wellbeing a priority? If the answer is yes, read on..

  • So tip number one is..Set aside time to have lunch and schedule five minute breaks throughout the day. A lot of people believe that they don’t have time to take break as they have too much work to do. But, humans aren't designed to concentrate for hours on end. We actually boost our productivity (and sanity) when we take regular short breaks.
  • Make sure that you eat regularly and drink plenty of water. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar levels balanced. This is important because when these get out of whack, your adrenalin spikes and your anxiety increases. Also, cut down on the caffeine. 
  • Get some exercise. It doesn't need to be hours of gruelling fitness. Just move your body, get active by walking, dancing or stretching. Get out into the sunshine. If you are more inclined to go to the gym, 20 minutes of cardio will give your brain chemicals a real rush. Doing 20 minutes of cardio has similar effects on your brain to taking an anti-depressant. 
  • Sleep. Sleep and more sleep. It really needs to be a priority, so turn the tv off at night and hit the hay. If you are having difficulties with your sleep, trying doing a relaxation exercise (such as a Progressive Muscle Relaxation) before bed or see your GP. 
  • Practice mindfulness at your desk. Ground and centre yourself so that you can find some balance. Practicing even a short mindfulness exercise will help you to focus and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. 
  • See friends and connect with people. There is actually a relationship between social connectedness and lessening the negative impact stress can have on our body (Check out Kelly McGonigal's Video).
  • Take regular holidays and long weekends. There is the temptation to save all of your leave and have one huge holiday, but regular breaks allows you to sustain yourself more throughout the year (and definitely doesn’t make it as hard to return to work). Work out what you need though, as some people prefer the bigger break. 
  • Prioritise work tasks and make sure you are using your time efficiently. Try not to let things pile up and delegate what you can. 
  • Practicing saying no. If you say yes to everything, you need to stop. Know what your boundaries are and manage them. You can do this in a kind and gentle way. If you boss doesn't want a bar of it, ask them what they suggest in terms of managing your workload. 
  • Plan pleasant activities and relaxing things for your weekends. Having something to look forward to releases dopamine in our brain (our feel good chemical), so get creative and busy. Or just chill out and nourish yourself. Go to yoga, get a massage, a facial or mani/pedi. Treat yo' self.  

With Warmth, K  & A xx