Last editedMar 20213 min read
Are you able to switch off at the end of the day? It’s all too easy to lose track of boundaries between personal and professional life thanks to an always-on work culture. As responsibilities build, so does stress – which can lead to burnout. Learn more about burnout symptoms, and how to prevent them, right here.
What is burnout?
Although burnout is not an official medical condition, it can take a toll on the body and mind. The term is typically used to describe a state of full mental and physical exhaustion, caused by a period of stress or over-engagement at work. Burnout symptoms include many of the typical signs of stress, like headaches and loss of appetite. Yet while stress often leads to physical ailments, burnout causes greater emotional damage. Typical work burnout symptoms include:
Detachment from colleagues
Feelings of numbness or alienation
Lack of physical energy
Lack of focus and drive
Irritability in the office
How to avoid work burnout
If you’re starting to feel the effects of mental burnout, here are a few ways to regain your professional spark.
1. Define your work hours.
When it seems like you’re working all hours of the day, try setting a schedule to give yourself a break. This can be difficult if you’re an entrepreneur communicating with clients in multiple time zones, but defining the workday’s beginning and end makes it easier to slide out of ‘work mode’ and get a better work-life balance.
2. Take scheduled breaks.
Just as you place important meetings and phone calls in your diary, schedule time for breaks. Avoid the temptation to check emails or conduct any other work tasks during this time by scheduling your breaks around a specific activity. Get outside in the fresh air for a 15-minute walk, or fit in a quick yoga session to fight those stress-related burnout symptoms.
3. Bring in new energy.
Mental burnout can make you feel like every day is the same. Mix it up by bringing in some collaborative energy from a business partner or friend. Schedule time to work on a side project or creative endeavour. Sometimes you need to bounce ideas off of other people to gain fresh motivation.
4. Identify workplace stressors.
If the workday sets you on edge, sit down and try to determine what is specifically causing your burnout symptoms. Are there certain tasks you procrastinate on each week? Are there certain people you avoid calling? Identifying causes of stress helps you find new ways to defeat them.
5. Look at the bigger picture.
Another way to turn workplace monotony on its head is to go beyond the short-term to think about the bigger picture. What are the larger goals your team is working toward? Fight employee burnout by discussing why your day-to-day actions matter. Evaluate if what you’re doing now is truly necessary, or if a new, more innovative process could be put in place.
6. Complete tasks in order of priority.
Writing down a daily to-do list can be a satisfying practice, as you tick off those tasks and feel a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes we can become overly fixated on the less important tasks, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Start with the most important items, breaking each task into manageable chunks to prevent stress.
7. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
Another way to battle an overwhelming to-do list is by delegating. If there are certain tasks you’re finding it difficult or overly time-consuming to handle on your own, ask employees to help. Small business owners often think they must oversee all aspects of the business, but outsourcing is not a sign of weakness.
8. Organise your workspace.
A cluttered desk with disorganised files and missing data is a recipe for employee burnout. You can prevent getting bogged down in admin by streamlining processes with the right software and filing system.
9. Turn down offers that don’t serve your goals.
A common mistake that start-ups make is saying ‘yes’ to every request. After all, who can afford to turn down work? But difficult clients and projects that don’t align with your values aren’t really worth the money or stress.
10. Schedule a digital detox.
Technology is a boon for business, keeping us connected to clients around the world. At the same time, this constant connection makes it hard to find time to recharge our batteries. Treat yourself to a regular digital detox. Whether it’s an hour of screen-free time or an unplugged weekend away, use this time to focus on yourself.
We can help
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