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5 tips to avoid workplace burnout

July 11, 2022

Did you know 46% of UK workers surveyed in March 2020 said they felt ‘more prone to extreme levels of stress’ compared with before the pandemic?

The lines between work and home life might’ve seemed increasingly blurry during the lockdowns, but what if it still feels that way now that we’re on the other side?

If long-term causes of stress at work have led to you feeling physical and emotional exhaustion, you may be experiencing burnout. A few common signs of burnout include:

  • A negative or cynical outlook
  • Loss of enthusiasm, creativity, and purpose
  • Feeling tired or drained most of the time
  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches or high blood pressure
  • Taking longer to complete tasks, or a sudden drop in performance.

It’s important not to ignore signs of burnout, as it can lead to other issues in life, such as low mood, restlessness or getting further behind on tasks because you’re avoiding them.

These symptoms are also red flags to watch out for if you’re a manager, concerned colleague, friend or family member.

Although there are no set treatments for burnout, we’ve highlighted 5 ways you can manage your work-related stress so that you can reduce any contributing factors.

Turn to your colleagues, friends, and family for support. Sharing your worries with them in a social setting can help buffer the effects of your stress.

Instead of directing your attention to your phone during breaks, try walking around the office for ‘water cooler chats’. Just remember to listen to others and offer them support as well if they need it.

Maintain healthy boundaries – sharpen the lines between work, leisure, and rest! One estimate reveals the average office worker gets around 120 emails a day, with the actual number expected to be higher now that some of us are working remotely.

Feeling constantly on alert for the next ‘ping’ can be exhausting. Remember to get outside, take regular breaks, and avoid the pressure to be available 24 hours a day for work-related updates.

Prioritize and resist perfectionism. Setting unrealistically high expectations for yourself can lead to unnecessary pressure.

If you feel like you’ve got a lot on your plate, drop the ‘shoulds’ to the bottom of the list and prioritize the ‘musts’. Aim to do your best, and allow mistakes to happen from time to time.

Remember that all work and no play is a recipe for burnout. When you feel stress is mounting, take a quick break and move away from the situation – both mentally and physically.

Physically separate yourself from your work laptop. Shut it down, keep it closed, and close the door to your office. Do something else that you’ll enjoy immediately after the working day ends!

Avoid any temptation to check your phone or emails before bedtime. Focus on quiet, soothing activities and allowing yourself to ‘switch off’.

Challenge any negative thinking, and avoid overthinking. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) reminds us that our thoughts are very often not an accurate reflection of the situation itself, but of how we perceive it.

Look at the evidence and the facts objectively, imagining what a judge would say in court when presented with them. For example, are you really that bad at everything you do at work, or do you do a pretty good job most of the time?

And don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for small accomplishments!

If you’re struggling to preserve healthy boundaries between your work and home life and are feeling burned out, then online CBT can help you understand the causes, identify triggers, and equip yourself with self-help techniques to manage workplace stress. Find out more here.

ieso Online Therapy
This blog has been written by a member of the clinical team at ieso.
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