How To Combat Work-Related Burnout

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There’s no denying it—job burnout is real, and it can take a serious toll on your health and happiness. Burnout is defined as a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that occurs due to prolonged exposure to high demands and stress.

While virtually every professional sector is at risk of burnout, some are more susceptible than others. For example, if you put on a stethoscope or scrubs each day, you’re much more likely to experience burnout. In fact, over half of all physicians and 54 percent of nurses experience emotional exhaustion, cynicism and a perceived lack of accomplishment associated with work. Other sectors that tend to be burnout-heavy include education, social work, emergency response, design, business development, retail, law and public safety. 

So if virtually everyone experiences feelings of burnout on occasion, why isn’t there anything we can do about it? In fact, there are some tried and true methods for combating burnout in ways that really work and don’t require you to go back to school or find a whole new career. Here are a few of them. 

1. Be Honest With Your Co-Workers 

Many high-achieving professionals believe that if they show any sign of burnout that they’ll be perceived as lazy or like they’re complaining. But the truth is that your co-workers and managers probably want to help you do your best work and thrive within your profession (if they don’t, it may be a sign that you’re in the wrong workplace). Open up to your co-workers and leaders within your company to see how they can alleviate some of the pressure and get you back to a happy, productive state. 

2. Making Work Fun Again 

Even the worst jobs have some silver linings and opportunities for fun! We know that you’ve got an insanely full plate, but remember to incorporate some fun into the mix wherever possible to help lighten the mood and make your work actually enjoyable again. For example, if you’re a medical professional, consider investing in some fun yet affordable scrubs to make getting ready a little bit easier. 

3. Be Aware Of The Negativity Around You 

If you have ever worked with a chronically negative co-worker or manager, you know just how much it can drag you down. Try your best to limit exposure to people who just trigger any negative, unhappy thoughts, even if they’re people you’re forced to work with every day. Learning to break up with toxic people and limit the negativity can have a very positive impact, not only on your work, but on your well-being. 

4. Invest In Self-Care And Personal Time 

These days, it’s becoming abundantly clear that stress and anxiety have a huge effect on our physical health. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, stress is believed to contribute to many risk factors of heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. That means limiting stress is as important as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and limiting your high-risk behaviors. Do your best to take personal time to do things that help you relax and feel happy, such as: 

● Spending time at the spa or getting a massage 
● Having brunch (or a Zoom date) with old friends 
● Hiking, gardening, riding bikes or playing sports outside 
● Practicing mindfulness meditation and yoga 
● Relaxing in a hot tub or sauna 
● Watching funny movies or shows 
● Going on vacation somewhere relaxing, like the beach or woods 

5. Take A Break

You deserve a break and should not try to push through a tough bout without taking a vacation or some time to yourself. Give yourself permission to step back from work for a week or two to help reset your perspective and recharge your batteries. Even if it feels pointless or wasteful, know that vacation time is good for business because it actually boosts productivity, improves mental health and lowers stress. 

6. Make Time To Exercise 

As insane as it seems to add one more thing to your busy day, know that working out is one of those purely good activities that will help improve every aspect of your life, from your long-term health and wellness to your immediate happiness and mental health. The key is to find an exercise option that’s realistic within the parameters of your busy life and that you actually want to do multiple times per week. So what we’re saying is, it may finally be time to invest in a home gym or sign up for classes at that fancy local fitness studio. It will be well worth your while in the long-run. 

7. Try To Get Enough Sleep 

Don’t play into the myth that only sleep-deprived people are hard workers. It’s simply not true and it’s dangerous thinking. The truth is that people who get their recommended nightly dose of ZZZs are a whole lot happier and healthier. Quality sleep provides our brains with the rest it requires for good mental focus, emotional regulation and prolonged energy throughout the day, which can drastically lessen feelings of burnout. If you’re a bad sleeper, push this one to the top of your list before you do anything else.

8. Go Easy On Yourself 

One of the best burnout-busting tips is this: Remember to give yourself a break. Rest when you need to and don’t push yourself so far that it comes at the compromise of your mental well-being. You are only one person and can only do so much. You cannot bear the weight of the world on your shoulders without eventually collapsing. Go easy on yourself every single day. 

Make Your Mental Health A Priority 

For many of us, the route to busting burnout at work is clear. It is simply a matter of prioritizing the things we need to do to get it under control. For example, we know that exercising regularly or signing up for routine therapy sessions will help, but these things just feel superfluous after a long, stressful week. 

But if you make your own happiness a priority—before succeeding in your career or advancing professionally—you’ll be able to find that perfect work-life balance and banish the burnout.

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