Work is an integral part of our lives as it allows us to provide for our basic needs and participate in life in a variety of ways. However, today we live in a society that values being both busy and keeping up with the Jones’. As a result, working long hours and often multiple jobs takes up the majority of our time. So what happens when we start to live to work, instead of working to live? Workplace stress and burnout is something we have all heard about and have possibly felt at one time or another. The following are some tips to help combat workplace burnout and get the most from all parts of your life:
- Get away, but not all at once. Plan ahead for your next vacation; this will serve as something to look forward to when work days get tough. Taking your vacation time throughout the year instead of all at once will help spread out much needed time away to recharge.
- Actually take your lunch break, yes actually. Leaving your desk or office during lunch provides a necessary mental break and gives your body physical cues that you are on a break, allowing it to recharge. Plan to meet a co-worker or friend for lunch, take a walk, go for a drive, or visit a nearby café.
- Find meaning outside of work. Are you a person that eats, sleeps, and breathes their job? Don’t be a one-trick pony where your entire life revolves around your career. Engage in activities that foster a sense of accomplishment and self-worth outside of work.
- Create a work-free zone. Try not to take work home; disconnecting from your work phone/emails is a first step. If this is not possible, designate a space at home for work, and create work-free zones in your home (e.g., never take work into the bedroom). If you live with people who are in the same line of work, try to implement “work-free times” where you agree to not talk about work.
- Unwind. Give your body tangible cues that work is done and home life has begun by finding a way to intentionally unwind from work. This may occur on the long drive home, using that time to clear your mind. Or, a simple routine at home can get you out of the work mindset such as changing out of your work clothes, exercising, taking a shower, or lighting a candle when making dinner.
- Rest and recharge. Sleep is crucial in your ability to manage stress. When possible, taking a short nap during the day can give you the boost you need to keep going. At night, establish a bedtime routine to help with sleep onset, including taking a bath, drinking a warm non-caffeinated beverage such as tea or steamed milk, and engage in meditation. Write out your to-do list for the next day on your phone or in a planner so that you are not overwhelmed with thoughts when trying to quiet your mind for sleep.
- Talk it out. Having a trusted co-worker, who has a similar experience to your own, is invaluable. Being able to express your thoughts and feelings throughout the day will help you to manage stress, allowing you to leave some things at work so you don’t take it all home with you.
- Focus on feeling good. Find small things throughout your day that you enjoy. Some examples include listening to music while you work or having some of your favourite coffee, tea, or lotion on hand. On your days off, plan out what you need to feel rejuvenated, such as sleeping in or catching up with a friend.
Finally, know the signs of burnout. Emotional exhaustion, cynicism, feeling detached from your work, and having a diminished sense of personal accomplishment are just a few of the debilitating symptoms of burnout. If your symptoms persist or you have difficulty implementing the strategies above, contact us at YEG Psychology for individualized support.