Burn out has always been a casual word used to approximately identify things like stress, anxiety, and general work exhaustion. However, the World Health Organization recently took an important step in classifying burn out as an official occupational phenomenon.
While technically not a mental condition, burn out is considered a result of “chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed.” This concept is borne out by the fact that, according to a Gallup poll, 23% of employees feel burned out very often or always, while an additional 44% do so sometimes. With terms being defined and stress and exhaustion rampaging through the modern workforce, an increasing number of people have begun to seek ways to ameliorate burn out before it begins (or continues) to wreak havoc in their personal and professional lives.
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Seeing the Signs
Before you can address burn out, it’s important to recognize that you’re actually suffering from it. Most people know about the main symptoms, like exhaustion and being less productive at work. However, there are actually many other subtle symptoms of feeling burned out as well, such as:
- Sleep deprivation.
- A loss of motivation.
- A feeling of meaninglessness.
- Struggling with helplessness, hopelessness, or depression.
- Feeling unappreciated and emotionally detached.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- A short temper or moodiness.
- Increased absenteeism.
If you’re struggling with feeling burned out, you’re not alone. On the contrary, according to the statistics stated above, you’re in the majority. The important thing is that you don’t use this information to be complacent or to simply accept a discouraging situation as “the reality of the majority.”
Instead, begin to look for ways to pick yourself back up, counter the tendencies towards burn out, and ultimately prevent it from reoccurring. Here are four tips to defend yourself from burn out both now and in the future.
1. Evaluate Work-Life Balance
Along with considering your personal condition, it’s important to review your relationship with your job. One of the greatest stressors of the modern work world is maintaining work-life balance.
This comes from a variety of different factors. For instance, the rise of the internet, social media, and smartphones has made it nearly impossible to disconnect from work. The recent popularity of remote- and flexible-work style has also exacerbated the situation by making it difficult to know when an employee is technically “off the clock.” Unless a concerted effort is made to define where work begins and ends, an individual can remain permanently tethered to a micromanaging boss, a workaholic coworker, or a needy client.
Once again, it’s important to assess your work-life balance in order to understand if you’re overly-prioritizing your job. You can do this by taking inventory of a typical day. Use tools like a mind map or even a simple pen and paper to chart how you spend your time and if and how you disconnect from work on a regular basis.
In addition, there are many apps that can help you manage your work-life balance. For instance, Pacifica helps you monitor your mood, and Cozi enables you to organize your life in one convenient location. If you make an effort to establish boundaries between work and your personal life, it can go a long way in helping you rest and recuperate from burn out at the office.
2. Tailor Your Smartphone Usage
While there are many specific ways that you can go about preventing burnout, one of the most effective areas to address is your smartphone. Americans already use the mobile internet for 3.5 hours per day on average, and it’s an addiction that is only increasing with time.
One of the simplest ways to avoid burn out is by reducing the amount of time that you spend on your smartphone. This is a concept that developers of kids phones have been following for years by stripping the overall function of the phone down to basic activities like texting, phone calls, and taking pictures.
By reducing the number of things you use your phone for, you can dramatically decrease your overall stress levels. As a bonus, less time spent looking at blue light can even increase the quality of your sleep as well.
As with work-life balance, there are apps out there to help curb your smartphone usage, such as RecueTime or QualityTime App. You can also simply opt to delete any apps you don’t absolutely need and then set times of the day when you purposefully set your phone to do not disturb or even turn it off entirely.
3. Conduct Regular Self-Care Assessments
As already mentioned, it’s hard to take action to fix a situation if you don’t know what’s wrong in the first place. You can assume that you’re burned out, and you’re probably right, but how are you burned out?
Where are you lacking? Are you struggling emotionally, psychologically, physically, or spiritually? Chances are you’re dealing with a combination of these items and possibly even with all four at once.
Take some time to fill out a self-care assessment in order to consider how you’re caring for yourself. This is a voluntary exercise and it doesn’t need to be communicated to anyone but yourself. If you take a few minutes on a regular basis to gauge where your needs are, it will make it much easier to address them efficiently and effectively.
4. Find Your Destressors
Finally, along with eliminating sources of stress and exhaustion, it’s important that you take the time to identify what can actively help you combat the symptoms of burn out. A few common suggestions for destressors include:
- Going for a walk.
- Taking deep breaths.
- Meditating and praying.
- Creating routines to start or end your day.
- Embracing a hobby.
Use the above list as a starting point and then try to pinpoint the best activities that can help you calm down and maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit at the end of a long day.
From taking self-care and work-life assessments to tailoring smartphone usage and finding your best destressors, there are many ways to prevent burn out. The vital step in the battle against burn out, though, is that you actually make an effort to prevent it before it ever becomes an issue.
Strive to establish healthy behaviors in your life when things are stable. Then when burn out begins to creep into the picture, you’ll have tried and true methods to fall back on as you attempt to alleviate the issue and maintain a sense of peace and happiness in your day to day activities.
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