Burnout at Work? Follow These 5 Tips

A few simple changes can make give you the work/life balance you crave.

Photo by Shutterstock

Photo by Shutterstock

It’s the middle of August. The sun is shining, kids are out of school and it’s scorching hot outside — but you’re likely to still buried under a mountain of work. But some of the things you’re doing to keep up are probably leading to burnout, says Mashable.

Those specific activities? Constantly checking your email, eating lunch at your workspace, and neglecting to schedule personal time. All three, the article says, can lead you to feel that dragging sense of apathy that so easily manifests, especially around this time of year. Luckily, there are some actions you can take to keep being productive without losing your mind.

Mashable suggests that you block push notifications to your smartphone, make concrete lunch plans with colleagues, and pen specific personal activities into your daily schedule.

But there are many other measures you can take to alleviate feelings of workplace burnout or to avoid it altogether. You first have to know what causes it. Paula Davis-Laack, a stress and resiliency expert, says in Psychology Today that while there’s no universally accepted dictionary definition, she classifies burnout as “the chronic state of being out of sync with one or more aspects of your life,” and she says, “the result is a loss of energy, enthusiasm, and confidence.”

She offers six potential causes of burnout: Loss or lack of control (see answering your work email at home); a conflict between your values and your employer’s values; insufficient rewards; overbearing workloads; workplace unfairness; and “breakdown of community” in the office. Furthermore, Davis-Laack cautions that just one of these causes can lead to burnout.

Additionally, a 2014 New York Times report, “Why You Hate Work,” says that in a random sample of 72 top-level executives, almost all reported feeling at least one symptom of burnout. The article also cites a 2013 Gallup poll that said 30 percent of working Americans don’t feel engaged in their jobs.

So what can we do to avoid burnout?

Take a vacation: Money magazine reported that 56 percent of Americans have not taken a vacation in a year. If you work in the Philadelphia area, take a weekend down the shore or in the Poconos, where you can unplug and refresh without breaking the bank.

Shorten your to-do list: People often find themselves packed with things to do even when they’re home. Money says that if you’re forgetting things and letting “important details slip through the cracks,” you’re probably biting off more than you can chew. So save the grocery shopping for tomorrow and instead order dinner and pour yourself a glass of wine.

Go to the gym, or join a sports league: These activities definitely won’t free up time in your day, but they should prove useful in helping you relax. The Mayo Clinic suggests getting “regular physical activity” such as “walking or biking” as ways to destress. Forbes recommends joining a group that has a common interest. Joining a sports league is a physical and social activity, but if you don’t want to tap into your athletic side, a book club or similar group can help you achieve the same result.

Take a lunch break. A serious, legitimate lunch break: This may seem trivial. It may seem time-consuming. But it’s important for your physical and mental health. Health.com cites a study from the University of Toronto, which says that not taking a lunch break — one that gets you up from your desk and outside the office — can lead you to feel exhausted without giving you the time and space to re-energize.

Seek out a challenge: One cause of burnout, Money argues, is becoming tired of the same routine every day. See if you can find a way to do the same work in a different order, or ask your supervisor for a new, more challenging project — just make sure you deliver. Alternatively, you could join a professional organization or use your skills in career-related volunteer work. You never know when a side project could lead to a better opportunity.