You might be hearing a lot about job-related burnout lately, and with good reason; it’s happening to more and more workers, according to recent data, and it can do you some serious harm. Approximately 23 percent of full-time employees polled last year reported feeling burnt out from their jobs.
What is exactly is burnout? It’s the psychological, emotional, and often physical manifestation of chronic stress over a protracted period. It can damage brain function, result in ulcers, headaches, and stomach pain, and lead to insomnia.
The good news is that there are both ways to prevent burnout and ways to treat it. Below, we list five so that you can stay — or get — healthy.
Make time for number one
Job-related burnout seems to be most prevalent among those in care-giving roles: doctors, nurses, full-time parents, and the like. Constantly tending to the needs of others may make looking after yourself feel foreign, but don’t let it. Rather than eat a hurried lunch in your car on the way to or from appointments, for example, take a 30-minute walk and eat before or after. In the evening, let your spouse read your kids those last five books — and get into a bubble bath. Allowing yourself what might feel like “luxury” time that’s not for anyone else can be a big stress reliever.
Particularly for those in high-stress, fast-paced jobs, making time to work out can seem nothing short of impossible. But just do it. Regular — 2.5 hours every week — moderate-intensity exercise boosts your mood, helps regulate appetite, improves sleep and ups self-confidence. It’s not that difficult to fit in; take that 30-minute walk every day at lunch and you’re there.
If you’re already suffering from burnout, working out can really help you.
Since one of the most common symptoms of burnout is sleeplessness, “sleep more” might seem like glib advice. Try to head burnout off by ensuring you don’t get to insomnia in the first place. If you’re overworked, chances are you’re taking work home with you at night, but resist the urge whenever possible. Instead, aim for an early bedtime and do something relaxing before falling asleep. Read a chapter of an interesting, non-work-related book, take a shower, do some meditation.
These activities, which can help even if you’re already experiencing some insomnia, will help prep you for sleep. Remember, adequate amounts of shut-eye can help keep you sharp during the day and make you more resistant to the effects of stress.
Take a vacation
Americans are notoriously bad about taking time off. Nearly half of employed U.S. adults fail to use all their vacation days each year. Perhaps people worry their jobs can’t get along without them (or worse, that they can, which could make the vacation-taker redundant upon their return to the office), or the thought of planning and then going on a complicated, expensive holiday is off-putting.
Whatever your reasons might be for considering opting out of that time off, push them aside. A vacation need not be anything fancy. Perhaps it’s a long weekend away with your spouse while your in-laws watch the kids, or a solo trip for four or five days to visit an old friend. Time away from work can relax and refresh you, two things you need in order to avoid burnout.
Friendships may be one of the first things to slide when you’re in the throes of full-on burnout. Instead of turning on Netflix after work and zoning out to old episodes of “Parks and Recreation” for the zillionth time, pick up the phone and call — don’t text — a friend. Talk about work, life, family — whatever it is that’s on your mind. Then make (and keep!) plans to spend time with friends or others who can function as a sort of support group. It could be a monthly book club or a mommy group in the neighborhood, whatever fits your interests and lifestyle. Those who are already burnt out will be likely to get a sense of relief from talking about it with a community.
Looking to trade in your professional life for one that’s more flexible and health-friendly? Start with your own office space. Browse Metro Offices’ locations today.