As of 2022, almost half (46%) of workers are close to burnout, according to research conducted by Westfield Health. This is a huge number and highlights the need for us all to be mindful of our ways of working to improve our wellbeing.
What is burnout?
The World Health Organisation defines burnout as ‘energy depletion, or exhaustion’ manifested in ‘a difficulty to keep up with workload’, ‘increased mental distance from job’, ‘negativism or cynicism and reduced professional efficacy’.
How do we break the cycle?
We can think of burnout like a snowball, the longer we keep rolling it along and enduring these feelings of stress, the larger it grows.
A lot of the advice for how to beat burnout is to do with routine and boundaries, by creating an environment that is optimistic, predictable and feels within control, we can begin to face into our stress rather than letting it overwhelm us.
1. Identify the root of the issue
It might be that you believe the cause of your burnout is the sheer amount of work you have on your plate, but career strategist Stacey Staaterman encourages you to ‘find your 2%’: you can put about 98% of the blame on the workplace but it’s worth considering the 2% that might be down to the decisions you make.
‘Maybe it’s that you can’t say no to anyone. Maybe it’s that you treat everything on your to-do list as equally important, so you’re in a pressure cooker all the time.’ Identifying and addressing the things you do have control over can help you to feel a sense of reclaiming the issue.
2. Work with your employer to create boundaries
If you do have a sense of causes of stress in the workplace, go to your employer with some suggestions for how you could address them.
Perhaps it’s setting boundaries in communication systems and styles, establishing meeting formats, or even a slight variation to a working day or week. Open and honest communication about how you’re feeling and what they could do to help will lead you to both feel that you are on the same page, and will likely help your colleagues to feel comfortable enough to voice their opinions too.
3. Learn how to switch off
As well as addressing problems within working hours, it’s important to think about how we are using our downtime too.
With phones, laptops, and tablets we can feel like we’re always ‘on’ but setting a time where we can totally disconnect allows your brain to switch off and recharge ready for the next working day. This can be achieved by setting boundaries with people who might contact you to let them know that you won’t be available after a certain time.
Plus with this newfound ‘free’ time you can create space for hobbies completely separate from work that signal to your brain that you are having a break. Knowing that you are on a break as soon as you put on your running shoes, pick up your knitting needles or open a book can really help to set a firm boundary.
Addressing burnout is a gradual process, but the first step is recognising that it needs to be addressed – and we’re already there! Hopefully, these tips have given you some ideas to create a work routine that feels sustainable and manageable for you.
Looking for a change? Work for a workplace that can support you in managing your stress. Take a look at our vacancies to find a new role that suits you and your needs.