We have all felt it. Everyday tasks or responsibilities start to feel exhausting and even the motivation to do things we love begins to wane. Those periods are a sign that it is time to make some changes to prevent that feeling of burnout.
"When stress builds up over time and no actions are taken to address the root issue, individuals will often begin to feel burnout,” says Bridget DeFiccio, LPC, Senior Vice President, Integrated Health Services. “Making small, conscious adjustments to your daily life can make a positive impact on how you feel."
What is burnout?
Burnout syndrome is a level of physical and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress that can limit your general capacity and motivation to thrive in everyday life. In the work place, burnout can feel like constant low-energy, a disengaged or negative mindset about projects or the workplace itself, and lower productivity levels or quality of work. But burnout doesn’t have to be just from work, it can be caused by other situations which create stress, such as family commitments and issues, caregiving, existing health problems, over-committing on activities, and many other factors.
Some signs and symptoms of burnout:
Constant exhaustion and/or low-energy levels
Trouble concentrating or focusing on a task
Increased anxiety and compounding stress
Difficulty coping with simple or complex situations
Physical ailments, such as headaches, stomach, or intestinal concerns
Lack of motivation or feelings of increased hopeless
How can I prevent burnout?
- Early recognition. Knowing the symptoms is your first line of defense when it comes to preventing burnout.
- Take time to self-reflect and create a daily or weekly routine that includes your favorite hobbies and consistent breaks for rest, relaxation, or even meditation, to clear your mind. Having a consistent routine will create structure in your daily life, foster a sense of control, and enable you to plan in ahead in a helpful way.
- Complete a periodic assessment and realignment of goals, skills, and work passions. Doing this can help you feel excited and energized about the work you are putting in, putting you back on the right track.
- Exercise regularly. It’s recommended that individuals exercise at least 30 minutes a day—that’s less than 2% of your entire day. Whether you go for a brisk walk or attend a workout class, carving out time to exercise each day will support both your physical and mental wellness.
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and proteins provides your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to thrive.
- Get enough sleep. Make sure to get consistent sleep each and every day. It is recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to be well rested both physically and mentally; your brain depends on it!
- Include daily enjoyable “timeouts," such as yoga, a hobby, or meditation. Beyond your routine breaks throughout the day, it’s important to take extended time off from work. Research shows that utilizing your vacation time actually helps people be more productive when they return to work, sparks creativity, and increases one's affinity for their job.
- Build up your professional and personal support system. Make sure you are making dedicated family time, or you’re meeting with mentors to discuss setbacks, time management strategies, or other barriers. To prevent workplace burnout, the relationships you have with your coworkers is one of the most important areas to focus on.
- Set healthy boundaries to ensure you're creating an environment that supports a healthy well-being. Some examples of setting healthy boundaries could be signing off from email over the weekend or disconnecting from technology at night. Take a look at How to Write a Self-Care List to help you identify those boundaries.
If you or a loved one are feeling mentally exhausted or overwhelmed, there's no shame in reaching out for extra support to maintain your wellness.