Burnout syndrome is a consequence of living in a fast-paced digital era. The World Health Organization now recognizes burnout syndrome as an occupational phenomenon. Burnout is common these days and is just as debilitating.
There are a number of different factors that can contribute to occupational burnout such as excessive workload, toxic work environment, feeling unappreciated at work, and being unable to align personal core values with job responsibilities.
Burnout can result in feelings of energy depletion, increased susceptibility to illnesses, isolating from friends and family members and reduced work efficiency. To prevent burnout syndrome from gradually taking over your life, here are five proven steps to help you overcome it.
Change Your Perspective on Work
It is perhaps difficult to find value in what you do now, particularly if you are working in a job that does not provide growth and fulfillment. Looking at your situation through the lens of positivity may help you from experiencing burnout syndrome.
For example, recognise that you can help others through your role. Simple things such as providing information about a product or service to customers or helping a colleague with a task that they are struggling with can go a long way in helping you find a sense of purpose and control at work. At the same time, try building friendships at work. Being able to have conversations and share jokes with colleagues can help you pass the time, relieve stress and reduce monotony. If you absolutely must, take some time off to relax and unwind. Take a leave or go on vacation. Do it without hesitation as time off work will allow you to feel reinvigorated and ready to work again at your best.
Muster the Courage to Say “NO”
“NO”. There, we said it, and we’re not going to feel guilty about it. Neither should you. It is important to understand that at the end of the day, a job is just a job. Often saying “YES” to some requests from your boss or colleagues to take on additional responsibilities to the point that it becomes excessive will do nothing but accelerate your burnout. As psychologist Abraham Maslow so aptly put in 1943, “The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short”.
If you do not have time and have been asked to stay back in the office to perform tasks that are not part of your job description, then don’t. Assert yourself by politely informing your superior or colleague that you are unable to fulfill their request. You can also compare your job description with a self-made list of additional responsibilities that you have taken on, especially if a superior questions your commitment to the job.
Uplift Your Mood and Energy by Eating Healthy
What you eat and drink has a major impact on your mood and energy levels throughout the day. Coincidentally, it can also cause burnout, especially if your regular diet is unhealthy. It is understandable that you may sometimes crave sweet treats or comfort foods such as doughnuts, ice cream or French fries. Eating too much sugar or refined carbohydrates may provide an initial energy surge which can quickly lead to a crash in your mood and energy levels. Similarly, foods with chemical preservatives, trans fats or hormones can also impact your mood negatively.
Go for foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, herring, mackerel, seaweed, flaxseed and walnuts. There is growing evidence that an Omega-3 fatty acid called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is more effective in treating mental health disorders like depression than conventional antidepressants. According to the findings of a group of British scientists, patients suffering from severe depression received daily dose of EPA. Three months later, over two-thirds of the group reported a 50% reduction in symptoms - mainly the feelings of sadness, pessimism, and inability to work.
Make Exercise a Fundamental Part of Your Daily Routine
Yes, we get it, it can be a challenge to get up and move, especially when you feel burnt out. But what if we told you that working out can be a very powerful antidote to stress and burnout? That’s right! Exercising for 30 minutes each day can put you in a positive mood throughout the day.
For example, rhythmic exercises, which incorporates movements of both arms and legs, are immensely effective in improving your aerobic and anaerobic fitness, increasing your energy levels, sharpening your focus, and relaxing your body. Alternatively, incorporating meditation and yoga as part of your workout routine can help promote mindfulness, which can also be a powerful way to relieve stress.
Indulge in Enjoyable Experiences
Gone are the times when your mobile phone only served as a means of communication. Nowadays, with these same phones doubling up as smartphones, you’re not only working when at the office but practically for the most part of the day. It is almost as if you’re carrying your office with you wherever you go. To prevent yourself from being a slave to your smartphone after working hours, and in turn avoiding burnout, place your device far away and hard to reach when you get home. Putting your phone away will help avoid the temptation to pick it up and check work-related messages or emails that may come in during the night which can cause unnecessary stress. The rule of thumb is: if it isn’t a matter of life or death, it can wait.
One way in which you can prevent burnout and improve your overall well-being is to indulge in “restorative experiences”. These experiences refer to activities that can be pleasurable and can be performed individually or with a group of people. For example, inviting friends over for dinner, joining a painting or pottery class, or playing sports of your fancy regularly can help release endorphins, a feel-good hormone that also doubles up as your body’s natural pain-killer.
Yes folks, overcoming burnout is possible! All you need is a little time and commitment to spending a few hours a week to restore your body and mind. If all else fails and you are left with no other option, perhaps now is the time to consider a new job or career path.