According to a 2017 study by the Harvard Business School, about 125 to 190 billion U.S. dollars are spent per year to address the physical and psychological effects of burnout. It goes to show just how rampant this problem goes. This public health crisis continues even during the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey found that 69% of employees experience burnout symptoms even while telecommuting.
Burnout happens when we fail to address prolonged and excessive stress. Some signs and symptoms include:
- Physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, muscle pain, headaches, tummy aches, intestinal issues, and other bodily aches
- Chronic fatigue
- Lack of focus
- Detachment and numbness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Increased irritability
- Poor work performance
It seems like burnout is the ultimate consequence of having a poor work-life balance. If you want to perform optimally in your professional life while still having a joyous personal life, you need to prevent burnout. Being proactive about your health is half the battle. Here are some tips to help counter burnout and its effects.
Don’t neglect your social life, even in a pandemic.
Mental Health America reports that participants over two decades found that a person’s level of joy was related to the happiness of their social networks. On the flip side, those who had a lower level of social interaction were more susceptible to dependence on cigarettes and alcohol and were twice as likely to become obese.
If you want to preserve your happiness, stay connected with your loved ones. Staying connected with our friends and family may be more of a challenge depending on your state’s stay-at-home orders, but you can make use of apps such as Zoom and Google Meet. Don’t let the lockdowns get in the way of your relationships; your health depends on it.
Spend time with your family as well—schedule a fun game night every Friday, or set up a cozy campsite in the backyard and watch movies together. There are so many things you can do together to foster stronger bonds and genuine connections.
Get into hobbies that both stimulate and soothe you.
Engaging in activities that have nothing to do with work can help you turn your “work brain” off when it’s time for rest and leisure. Some therapeutic hobbies that can help take your mind off stressful work things include:
- Creative pastimes that require you to work with your hands, like pottery, origami, or woodcarving
- Going on nature walks and taking beautiful photos
- Musical hobbies like taking beginner piano classes or learning how to sing
- Gardening or taking care of houseplants
- Writing down your innermost thoughts and feelings
Make health and fitness a priority.
Our minds and bodies are intrinsically connected—they affect each other significantly. If you find that stress is not going away, make space for exercise in your daily routine, even if it’s just for 15 minutes per day. Even a simple stretching routine can energize and prepare you for a long workday.
It’s tempting to default to binge eating when we’re stressed, but you need to give your body some love by feeding it with nutritious foods. Go for a healthy smoothie instead of ice cream. Reach for some celery sticks or carrots if you’re craving chips. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Building simple everyday habits can go a long way in contributing to your overall wellness.
Stick to a morning ritual.
Being able to stick to your commitments can help improve your self-esteem. A healthy morning ritual may involve these elements:
- Waking up when your alarm goes off
- Working out
- Having a hearty but healthy breakfast
- Taking a shower
- Meditating, reflecting, or practicing your spirituality
Doing all of these things in the morning may seem daunting, but all these activities can contribute to your mental and physical well-being and can help you start your day right.
Set boundaries at work.
We burn out because we don’t know how to set boundaries. If you’re being asked to give so much more than what you signed up for, don’t hesitate to draw a line and remind them of your job descriptions and duties. Setting boundaries may look like:
- Learning to say no
- Taking proper breaks
- Knowing when to stop
- Banning work calls or messages after office hours
- Communicating your values and priorities clearly and politely
Remind Yourself of What Matters.
When you find yourself on the verge of burning out, remind yourself of what matters in life. We work to live; we don’t live to work. Remind yourself that you are more than just your job, your accomplishments, or the money you make. Protect your ability to work by taking care of your mind and body.