Many of us spend the majority of our time at work — in fact, the average person will spend about 13 years of their life at work. Whether you work 9am-5pm Monday through Friday or on a shift-based schedule, it’s natural to feel like you’re constantly wrapped up in to-do lists, office politics, and career growth. It’s challenging to balance a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle while still making your career and livelihood a priority. And no, retiring in your twenties is probably not a realistic solution — but there are plenty of things you can do to help you combat burnout.
Do I really need to resolve my burnout issue — or can I just work through it?
Before we jump into how you can reduce burnout, let’s discuss burnout itself. Oftentimes the people that need to take action to combat their burnout the most, are the ones who are most resistant to it. If you’re used to a certain level of productivity, it can be harder to sit yourself down to take a break to focus your energy elsewhere. But not solving your burnout problem can actually cause more harm to your productivity levels.
Some of the risks of prolonged employee burnout include:
- Clinical depression
- Poor workplace morale
- Reduced job satisfaction
- Communication breakdown
- Poor physical health
- Increased employee turnover
- Decreased productivity
- Increased absenteeism Symptoms of burnout include:
- So, you know the consequences of not taking steps to reduce burnout — but how do you know if you or your employees suffer from burnout?
- Reduced efficiency and energy
- Increased errors
- Increased frustration
- Sarcasm and negativityHere are a few things you can do to get back on track, feel refreshed, and leave burnout on the back burner.
Sound familiar? That’s because burnout is pretty common. A recent study found that out of 7,500 full-time employees, 23% of them reported that they felt burnt out at work “often” or “always” — and 44% said they felt burnt out “sometimes”. But what can burned-out employees do to solve this issue?
Tip #1: Unplug
Being able to work from anywhere, all the time is definitely convenient — and has made more room for remote job opportunities and improved efficiency. But our constant connection to work via smartphones and computers is actually a huge source of work stress and burnout.
Sometimes there’s just no way to put your work aside for the night — but make a point to not bring your laptop home from the office on certain nights. Take time to get a workout in, make a great meal, and spend some time with people you enjoy.
Making an effort to separate your work and life situations can actually make you feel more motivated, energized, and creative the next time you step into the office. So, sign out of any work-related emails, chat channels, and project management programs and enjoy a few moments to yourself for once!
Tip #2: Use your PTO
Pro Tip from Jeff Arnett, CEO of Arnett Credentials: “PTO is made to be used — don’t try to be the hero by not taking advantage of your time off, it’s not a competition. If you’re in career mode for the long haul, you’ll actually find that fitting in time for time off will actually make you more productive and more successful”.
Whether you use all of your days off at once for a big vacation, or just take a day off here and there, it’s important to take time to recharge and refresh.
Tip #3: Get out of the office
Being in a stuffy office all day can start to cramp your style and limit your productivity if you don’t make an effort to catch a breath of fresh air, talk to new people, and switch up your perspective. If you’re able to work from home a few times a month, take advantage of it! You can set up shop in the comfort of your home, at a favorite coffee shop, or even in a local park, (WiFi permitting).
Tip #4: Reorganize your personal space
If you just can’t bring yourself to get out of the office and set up that quirky “Out of Office” email you’ve pre-emptively crafted in your absence, give this tip a try.
Start by getting organized and moving around your desk space. Invest in a desk organizer, brighten up your space with a desk plant, frame a family photo, rotate your view — or better yet — ask if you can change desks. Sometimes a simple change of scenery is just what you need to get re-inspired!
Tip #5: Rethink your routine
Feeling stuck in the 9-5 cycle? It could be time to tweak your schedule or try something new!
ProTip from Chris Smith, Founder of I am Net Worthy: If your office offers flex hours, try coming in at a different time — or try to work during the time that you’re most productive, rather than subscribing to the 9-5 ritual.
If these suggestions sound ideal but aren’t realistic in your current job situation, try one of these alternatives instead:
- Sign up for a yoga class before or after work
- Instead of taking your entire lunch break in the office, opt for a walk outside
- Learn a new skill like pottery, painting, or a foreign language
- Instead of arriving early to work, make it a point to enjoy your morning before you head into the office
Tip #6: Treat yourself!
You can probably remember the last thing you checked off on your to-do list, or the last project you worked on — but can you remember the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back for your hard work?
Here are a few ways you can reward yourself:
- Get a massage
- Book a staycation
- Go outside for a hike
- Buy tickets to a concert or sporting event
- Go out for dinner
- Get a manicure or pedicure
- Read a book
- Do something nice for someone else
- Go see a movie
- Spend a night in
- Do a face mask
- Do nothing for 5 minutes
Wherever your interests lie, just make sure you build time into your busy schedule to do something you enjoy!
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to resolving symptoms of burnout. So try out a few methods and follow these tips to find out what works best for your mental health! Nobody’s perfect — and most everyone will experience burnout at one point or another. Rather than ignoring or denying it next time, make a conscious effort to do something about it. You’ll be thankful you did!
This guest blog was written by Emily Banks. She is a Bay Area Native who got tired of SF’s cold beaches and decided to move to San Diego. She is currently the editor for the HR section of 365 Business. When she is not typing away on her office keyboard, she can be found eating street tacos in the sunshine.