Almost everyone has had bad days at work—when things are just not going right and zapping the life out of you. When you feel like things are getting out of control, take a good look at your situation as you could be experiencing work burnout. Paula Davis-Laack, an expert who trains professionals all over the world how to manage stress, defined burnout as “the chronic state of being out of sync with one or more aspects of your life, and the result is a loss of energy, enthusiasm, and confidence.” This can eventually impact your physical and mental health, as well.
Davis-Laack then cited research tracing work burnout to six sources: lack of control, conflicting values, insufficient reward, work overload, unfairness, and breakdown of relationships at work. Take control of your life and start having less stress in the workplace. Here are some tips to help you deal with burnout at work.
Photo by Moyan Brenn/Flickr.
To come up with an effective course of action, you need to evaluate your life. Aside from your workplace, consider your physical well being, relationships with other people, and your life in general. Refuse to become a victim of circumstances. Do something to change things or, at the very least, your perspective.
Meditation is a tried-and-true, yet often forgotten, method to alleviate burnout in these modern times. Carve out time from your busy schedule to focus on yourself. Slow down, keep cellphones and other distractions away, and take deep breaths. Cultivate your mind and soul with empowering mantras or positive thoughts.
When getting out of bed seems next to impossible, give yourself reasons to get going. Take small but significant steps to reduce stress. Simple things like turning off your television, decluttering, and discovering a new hobby will do wonders for you. Each day should be more than tolerable, and having something to look forward to can really help.
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It has long been said that you are what you eat. Your choice of food not only has an effect on your strength, but also on your mood. Fuel your body with the right kind of nourishment. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. Eschew junk food, soft drinks and alcohol, and other overly processed foods.
The human body can only take so much, so be sure you acknowledge its need to rest. Strive to get eight hours of sleep each night. Take naps as needed. If you have a hard time falling asleep, keep your television and gadgets powered off or put away. Listen to relaxing music, and make your bedroom as comfortable as possible.
Nature has countless ways to soothe the body and soul. Turn to nature to rejuvenate yourself. Plan a hiking trip, take a leisurely walk in a garden, and indulge in fresh greens as part of your daily diet. Add flowers or a potted plant to your office.
Stay on top of how you spend your time by drawing up a weekly or monthly schedule. Planning will help you organize the things that you need and want to do, and ensure that you’re making time for both. Being efficient with your time will significantly reduce your stress levels and leave you feeling in charge of your life.
Avoid spreading yourself too thin. With limited time, energy and resources, you need to re-align your focus or else you’ll only end up frustrated. Before attempting to do everything at once, concentrate first on what is really urgent and stick to that.
Maximize what you can do, but know what your limits are. You need to protect your precious time and energy or you’ll risk losing productivity. Politely let your employer and co-workers know when you feel like you’re taking on too much so you can start concentrating on what can be done to help the situation.
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Vacation leaves are not a luxury, but a necessity for employees to recharge their batteries every now and then. Instead of seeing these leaves as a waste of time, take advantage of it so you can come back to work refreshed. When you do take your vacation, avoid taking your work with you. If you really can’t help it, keep the amount you do while away from the office at the minimum.
Do not hesitate to talk things over with your supervisor or someone who is in a position to help you. You and your employer need to be on the same page in regards to your productivity. Bring up your concerns as soon as possible. It could be an overwhelming workload, a lack of incentives to boost motivation and inspiration at work, and anything else you feel is taking away from your focus and satisfaction. Ask for suggestions and voice yours, if you have any. This will show that you’re taking initiative and proactively trying to improve your performance.
Doing everything yourself is the perfect way to crash and burn, fast. Know when to ask for help, believe in teamwork and delegate or outsource tasks if you can. Recognizing that you are not a superhuman, with the ability to do it all, is important if you want to do your job well.
Striving to be a perfectionist every minute of the work day will only set you up for disappointments. Instead, aim for excellent performance and end the day knowing that you did your tasks to the best of your ability.
It’s very easy and tempting to slip into self-destructive behavior like drinking away your woes, not showing up at work, and so on. Stop as soon as you find yourself going down this path because these activities aren’t healthy coping mechanisms. If you need to channel your burnout, find healthy ways to do it, such as working out or talking to an objective friend.
Photo by Chepner/Flickr.
Get your strength from a solid support system. Aside from helping you channel your burnout, having people you can turn to can give you new insights into your situation. If available, join the stress management program at your workplace, and if you don’t have one you may want to suggest it to your co-workers.
Working day in and day out while experiencing burnout may feel like too much, but keep in mind that you can take actions to change your situation. Get started with these simple steps that can begin to alleviate the feelings of burnout and help you strike the perfect work-life balance.
Emily Harper is an Environment and Sustainability Advocate. She is also fond of analyzing home structure and design and has been a Home Stylist and Consultant. She loves to write about home improvement, business, marketing, and green sustainability. Get to know Emily by following her on Twitter.
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