Career Management

Work can be stressful. You’ve got deadlines to meet and expectations to measure up to, which often means a lot of extra hours and limited down time. If this sounds like you, you’re putting yourself at risk of burning out, which could not only hinder your work performance, but also have negative implications for your health.

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion and can be brought on my high levels of stress and failing to give the body the rest that it needs. So in order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what causes it and what you can do differently to prevent it happening.

Here are a few signs that you’re on the road to work burnout and a few things you can do differently to avoid it.

What are the signs of burnout?

You lack energy: You feel tired all the time, to the point that small tasks have become difficult. This exhaustion could be physical, emotional or mental.

You’ve become irritable: Are you growing increasingly impatient with your colleagues/customers/clients or finding little things they do annoying?

Trouble concentrating: You struggle to get yourself motivated and it takes you a long time to complete tasks. You’ve lost all enthusiasm for your work, that you once had.

A change of sleeping or eating habits: Despite feeling exhausted, you may have falling or staying asleep. Insomnia is a common sign of burnout, however it could also be held accountable to an inability to stop thinking about work.

You feel unwell: Burnout can often cause frequent headaches, back pain or stomach complaints.

What can cause burnout?

Not taking time off: There’s a reason that there are laws ensuring that employees are allowed to take time off from time to time and that’s because overworking yourself can become harmful. A hefty workload often leads to employees avoiding time off as they are afraid of falling behind, however it’s good for you to have a good work life balance and to spend time with your friends and family, as well as attending to work commitments.

Working through lunch: Much along the same lines as the first point. Taking a lunch break will not only help to prevent exhaustion and headaches, but stepping out for a bit of fresh air and exercise can also improve your focus. Eating at your desk has also proven to create bad eating habits, leading to either under eating or over eating.

Poor job fit:  If you’re not happy in your job, you’re likely to feel stressed or struggle to relax in the workplace. This may also become an issue if your values differ to how your employer does business or handles grievances, as a difference in opinion can create tension.

Checking email all the time: With it now being possible to check your emails from almost everywhere via your mobile phones, it’s become common practice for people to respond to emails around the clock. However, by checking your inbox outside of work hours you are removing the boundaries between your professional and personal life.

A long commute: Travelling a long distance to work can be tiring and stressful.

How to combat burnout

Identify the cause of stress: If you can pinpoint what’s making you feel stressed at work, you may be able to come up with a solution. If you think a change in the workplace could help, discuss it with your boss, as they may be happy to adapt the way things are done to improve employee wellbeing.

Adopt healthy habits: Make sure you eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. This way you will feel energised and will avoid becoming run down.

Take a break at lunchtime: Going for a quick walk at lunchtime to get some fresh air is great for clearing your head. A break from technology and the office is the ideal time to take the focus off of work for a little while.

Book some time off work: Even if it’s just a day or two, it’s important to have some “me time” every now and again to unwind.

Avoid checking your email after work hours:  By turning off all notifications on your phone and making sure that they don’t show up on your lock screen, you can avoid temptation.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

About Sophie Deering

You can follow Sophie at @SophieDeering.

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