5 Ways To Beat Burnout at Work, According to Experts

On-the-job stress has taken a significant toll on America’s workforce, increasing burnout in employees of all ages. You’re in good company if you’ve lost your motivation or are exhausted and unfocused at work. In fact, according to a recent report from Indeed, 67% of respondents said burnout has worsened since before the pandemic; 52% were feeling burned out themselves. In the era of The Great Resignation, that’s a major problem.

Luckily, there are strategies you can use to stop burnout in its tracks. Relationships are key. So are healthy boundaries and prioritizing your own needs (but you knew that already). Experts share their top tips for beating burnout and managing workplace stress:

Seek Connections With Co-workers

Strong relationships are one of the best ways to stave off burnout, says Katie Lear, a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Charlotte, North Carolina. Solid interpersonal connection is also protective against mental health issues related to work stress, such as anxiety and depression.

Working remotely means missing out on traditional forms of in-person socialization that take place in an office setting. “Before the pandemic, we took small face-to-face work interactions for granted –the water cooler conversations, the small talk with your doorman, and even that daily hello from your neighborhood barista,” says Lear.

Despite their brevity, these daily correspondences kept us feeling connected. But according to Virginia Walton, a certified professional coach in Belvidere, NJ, it’s still possible to forge a strong bond with another colleague even if we’re not physically close.

“It requires taking an interest in each other as people,” says Walton, specializing in executive burnout. She suggests regular conversations, conference calls, emails, and instant messages with colleagues to get to know one another personally. Then, she says, find common ground, whether work or other interests.

Create (And Stick To) Strong Boundaries

If you’re in a high-stress work environment, creating strong boundaries around your work is essential, says Lear. That’s especially true if you don’t have a physical boundary or separate office to divide your work and home responsibilities.

“It’s easy for work to creep into what are supposed to be off-the-clock hours. Creating an end-of-day ritual can help to mentally let go of your work for the evening,” Lear says.

According to Walton, many of the demands we associate with work are often self-imposed, so work on those first. For example, If checking your work inbox after-hours is stressing you out, determine when you’re going to go offline each day, and stick to it – that email will still be there in the morning, and you’ll be better equipped to handle your day.

“Start with committing to taking lunch. Put it on your calendar, and hold yourself accountable to make it a non-negotiable when a meeting invitation conflicts. Do the same thing with your end-of-day time. There will always be the need to adjust because life happens, but start to build the habit of setting boundaries,” says Walton.

Once you have practiced setting boundaries with yourself, you can start to apply the approach with tasks and expectations imposed by others.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

According to Walton, when we create a bond with our co-workers, trust is established. And when there is trust, you can let your guard down, being honest about your feelings. Chances are if you’re feeling stressed, others are too.

“You can talk about how you are managing the stress that exists in your environment. Odds are the culture is contributing to the feelings of stress and burnout, so creating awareness helps the organization know changes are needed,” Walton says.

Knowing you are not the only one feeling this way makes it okay to accept your feelings, and then you can make changes, says Walton. “In contrast, if you think you are the only one struggling to keep up, you will keep pressing on in the same fashion and ultimately burn out or just give up. This could cost an organization great talent in the process,” she says.

Put Your Own Needs First

When we’re busy, it’s easy to lose sight of our well-being, but this is counterproductive, says Walton. The more you push through, the less effective and efficient you become.

“To bring your A-game, you need to be alert, focused, and creative. If you are not getting enough sleep, taking time to mentally step away and refresh, you are not going to be functioning at your best,” Walton says.

You don’t need to take week-long trips to the desert to disconnect, says Walton. Instead, make sure your daily routine allows you time for movement, sufficient sleep, and a healthy diet.

Be sure to take regular breaks away from your desk to reenergize, increasing your productivity. “Take a 10-minute walk without checking your email. Fresh air and the change of scenery will give you a fresh perspective and a little energy boost,” Walton says.

Find Meaning Outside of Work

Many of us associate our value with our jobs, says Adam Ratner, a licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Grow Wellness Group in Naperville, IL. “Our job is not our identity. It is not all we have to offer. It is not all that we are capable of,” he says.

Instead, try to look at work for what it is, a means of survival and a way to achieve a desired quality of life, says Ratner. Then, focus on what is important to you outside of work, whether your family, health, or whatever brings you joy.

“It’s imperative not to forget what you have to be grateful for, or darkness can find its way in,” Ratner says, so keep investing in activities that provide the most gratification to you.

If your current role is causing you stress or isn’t a good fit, remember that you are not locked into one position, especially in this day and age, Ratner says. Instead, find a new opportunity that sparks joy.

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This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.

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