We live in a performance-driven world. A successful career requires stamina and patience. Realizing and prioritizing the importance of taking care of yourself can be the difference between flying high and burning out. Many of us feel the threat of burnout. So many of us feel that way that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared burnout to be an “occupational phenomenon” in 2019.
Since then, life has become even more stressful. The WHO defined “burnout” as an altered state in relation to work that’s caused by “chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed.” While it’s not realistic to attempt to make work stress-free, you can successfully manage work-related stress to avoid burnout. Read on to learn about seven tips you can use to prevent burnout on the job.
Putting distance between yourself and your work responsibilities is essential. Science has proven that the body responds to a vacation with reduced levels of stress, a strengthened immune system, and short-term improvements in vitality. Use your annual vacation days. Don’t make excuses or overthink it. Whether it be a long weekend or a couple weeks, take time to recharge. Getting away from your job can provide a fresh perspective and allow you to return with renewed focus and energy.
Make sleep a priority. Poor sleep will fast-track burnout. A recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that, like many measures of well-being, respondents’ sleep health deteriorated significantly during the pandemic. Getting enough quality sleep is one key to keeping your mind clear and your energy levels high. Most people need seven hours to eight hours of sleep to rejuvenate the body and mind. Your diet and environment can dramatically impact the quality of your sleep, so develop a nighttime routine to improve your sleep habits. Better sleep will increase your stamina and recharge your creativity.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are related practices. You can employ either of them at any time during your day to suspend daily stressors and regroup. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present and not being overly reactive. Meditation is a practice of focusing on the breath to calm one’s mind and cultivate awareness. Both practices are proven to reduce stress and increase concentration. There are a number of mindfulness and meditation apps available. Newer versions of the Apple Watch and Fitbit devices come standard with features intended to increase your use of mindfulness and meditation. Finding little ways to detach during the week can give you a much-needed mental break without taking days off from work.
View exercise as time you’re taking to care for yourself. Make it a priority by adding it as an appointment in your calendar. Commit to not schedule over it. Exercise can get you out of your office and out of your head. Like meditation and mindfulness, exercise can reduce stress and increase clarity. It can improve the quality of your sleep and overall physical health. Some people love going for a walk or run. Not only is exercise outdoors free and convenient, studies have shown that those who exercise outdoors find it easier to commit to a workout routine. Others have success with scheduled classes or personal training sessions. Experiment until you find what suits your schedule and personality.
What you eat has a huge impact on your energy level, mood and mind. Foods like cookies and potato chips are full of refined carbohydrates, which cause blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, inducing stress and anxiety. In contrast, a diet filled with energy-boosting nutrients from lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the foundation for a healthy mind and body. Try one or more of these dietary adjustments to raise your energy levels and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Begin each day by prioritizing your most important objectives. A recent survey by New York Life Investment Management shows that too few of us refer to our long-term career goals when setting the priority of our daily tasks. Failure to prioritize can lead to burnout, such as when you get to the end of your normal work day and find you have hours of work remaining. First, plan the time you need to accomplish high-priority tasks, then allocate time to activities needed to energize you (hint: meditating, a healthy lunch or taking a walk), and finally schedule lower priority tasks. Creating a schedule that allows you to accomplish your daily work in accordance with your personal goals will keep you motivated.
Build a strong team, both personally and professionally. Humans are designed to crave a sense of community, and when that sense of community is missing burnout is more likely. Relationships affect every aspect of our lives. Positive, supportive connections help us to work through challenges and feed our souls. Find people you can collaborate and laugh with to bolster your energy.
Work is often a serious place filled with obstacles. Taking care of yourself will enable you to routinely overcome challenges to go the distance. We all have a breaking point. You owe it to yourself to do what you can to never reach it.