At one time or another, we all experience some form of stress in our everyday lives. It’s when this stress is not properly addressed and left to exacerbate, that it leads to more complex mental and physical exhaustion, also known as burnout.
Characterised by exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm or motivation, and feelings of ineffectiveness, burnout can have serious repercussions and lead to severe depression and anxiety. Periods of excessive and prolonged stress can also manifest physically and cause a faster rate of deterioration in health. Along with headaches, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, burnout can cause sleep disturbance and suppress immunity, significantly impairing quality of life.
A survey from the Australian Psychological Society suggests that many Australians are affected by stress and susceptible to suffering from chronic stress and burnout. Findings revealed that 1 in 3 Australians report having a significant level of stress in their lives, while 1 in 4 say they experience above normal levels of anxiety.
In this age of working smarter and faster, burnout can be easy to overlook, but if chronic stress is not addressed it can become very serious and lead to greater physical and mental health issues. Acknowledging that you feel stressed out is the first step. Take a step back, recognise what is making you feel anxious and proactively implement strategies to help relieve the pressure.
5 Ways to Combat Burnout
- Create Movement In Your Day
It is part of our natural make-up to move, but nowadays too much of our day is spent sitting for long periods of time. Take time to centre yourself and reconnect with your body and mind. Engage in some movement, whether it’s a daily run, yoga class or a walk on your lunch break.
Stress leads to tension in the muscles, which then further exacerbates stress. Some movement practice can help you become aware when you are storing tension in the muscles so you can become skilled at letting this go. Movement also helps to alleviate stress so we can re-set and come back to work with a clear mind and be more productive.
- Take a Break
Taking mindful pauses regularly at work is very important! Taking 5 minutes to walk with awareness to the water cooler, to reconnect with your breath and your surroundings can help centre our attention before returning back to our tasks. Get outside during the work day and breathe in fresh oxygen!
- Keep Values in Mind
You will never have everything in balance but you can ensure that you are giving time and attention to other areas of your life that are important such as your family, friends, and hobbies. Block out time in the week for these as they can be hugely restorative and help us come back to work fresh. Often when we are starting to get burnt out or feel stressed at work we become tunnel visioned and spend more time at the desk.
- Don’t Forget the Basics
Often when we are busy, stressed or down we start to let the fundamentals go: food, sleep, meditation, and exercise. When we want to operate at our best we need to be sure to put in the right ingredients for optimal performance. Have healthy snacks prepared, don’t skip meals, and get 8 hours sleep if possible. Be sure to unhook from technology at least an hour before bed to let the mind relax and assist with sleep.
- Address Barriers & Reconnect with Your Meaning
This one might seem counterproductive, but it’s possibly the most effective. Often people fail to step back and actually examine the barriers they are having at work and address these systematically.
Do you need support? Is there a better system that can be put in place to ease the load? How long has it been since you have had a holiday?
What is it about your work that brings meaning? What are you passionate about and how can you reconnect with this?
If we are not connected to your sense of purpose and meaning, work can start to become a cause of unhappiness. Be sure to start to examine alternative work options if you are truly unhappy, you don’t need to stay in your current job forever!