How to Effectively Avoid Burnout and Keep Yourself in the Game

Blond woman tired of working staring at laptop holding her head

We’re currently witnessing a global workplace crisis. According to Gallup, 85% of employees worldwide are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work.

When these bleak stats are translated into money, the cost reaches $7 trillion in lost productivity.

On the other hand, there are employees who are happy, motivated, and actively engaged as such. They don’t mind working long hours. Moreover, they enjoy it. But there’s a hidden threat which easily sneaks up on top performers and renders them useless as well – burnout. 1 in 5 highly engaged employees faces the risk of this lifestyle-related condition.

It’s essential to prevent it and recognize the telltale symptoms before they develop into full-blown burnout.

What is Burnout?

Many people falsely believe that burnout is simply a combination of accumulated fatigue and stress, and that it can be fixed by having a good rest. Although these two factors surely add up, burnout is much more complex than that.

The term burnout was initially coined in the 1970s to describe the feeling of utter stress, exhaustion, listlessness, and inability to cope experienced by people working in so-called helping professions – doctors and nurses in particular. But due to the culture of “you’ll sleep when you’re dead” which has become a thing back in the 1980s, burnout has expanded to all professions.

It’s important to emphasize that besides overwork and stress, this condition can occur when there’s no reward or recognition at work, as well as when employees have no interest or a proper set of skills for the job they’re doing.

To assess whether you’re in the fast lane to burnout, watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Low energy levels;
  • Overeating or hardly eating anything;
  • Sleep disorder;
  • Lack of engagement at work;
  • High level of self-criticism;
  • Excessive worrying;
  • Poor physical health.
  • Generally speaking, if you’re feeling down, miserable, and on the verge of snapping, take a deep breath and read the following advice.

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano

Taking care of yourself is an essential step in preventing (and overcoming) burnout. This means that you should switch to a healthy lifestyle. In other words, making the time to relax, eat properly, and sleep is a must.

When it comes to food, the worst thing you can do is grab a sandwich and eat it while you’re reading your emails. Bring a hearty, home-cooked meal to the office and take a break from work to slowly eat it away from your desk. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, and various nuts, and ditch all that candy from your pantry. You can also try cutting down on the caffeine – while it will give you an energy boost (as will all that sugar), the comedown will not do you much good. It will certainly take your body some time to get used to the new levels of sugar and energy you are supplying it with, but once you get over the initial cravings, you will feel much better.

As for sleeping, the best way to doze off is to disconnect. The blue light from your mobile device can seriously affects your sleep and suppress the secretion of melatonin, dubbed the happy hormone, so make sure to leave your smartphone and tablet in your living room or study. Try reading before bed instead of watching TV or spending time on YouTube, and you will soon find yourself falling asleep much easier.

Exercise on a Regular Basis

Man standing on a bridge preparing to run

No, you don’t have to hit the gym if you don’t feel like working out, any physical exercise such as Pilates, yoga, or even a recreational walk around the block will do. Since most of us spend a great deal of time indoors, it’s only logical that our bodies crave natural light and fresh air. As a matter of fact, moderate sun exposure is beneficial for your health, as it’s the best way to obtain much-needed vitamin D, as well as to improve your mood and regulate the production of blood stem cells from the bone marrow, among many other things.

An all-in-one solution is to go on a walking holiday which will help you keep your body in shape and clear your mind from the toxic thoughts and all the stress that you’ve been exposed to. Even though you might think that spending a week or two lounging on a beach somewhere is good for you (and it certainly is), the best way to recharge is actually to start moving, instead of to lie around. Take on an adventure like the Camino de Santiago, which will activate your body and leave plenty of room for your mind to ease itself.

Set the Bar at Least a Tad Lower

Motivated people are usually perfectionists, and that’s a virtue, right? To a certain extent, yes, but in some cases, these overachievers tend to get carried away and wear themselves out. By no means is this a suggestion to start slacking off at work and cutting corners whenever and wherever you can.

The point is to stop trying to impose any impossible standards which you (or hardly anybody, for that matter) can’t live up to. Such a practice will only lead to procrastination, dissatisfaction, and an overall sense of disenchantment. So, if you can’t complete a task on time, don’t push yourself too hard, but ask for an extended deadline instead. Don’t think you can do everything on your own, and seek help if you need it.

Schedule your Free Time

Brown hourglass on brown wooden table

Just like you do with your meetings, assignments, and other work-related tasks. No matter how busy you are, it’s crucial to carve out some me time and stick to the plan. This will allow you to unwind and recharge your batteries. By taking several short breaks during a long day, you’ll be able to freshen up and achieve more than you would if you’d worked all the time.
When it comes to burnout, the best cure is prevention, so make sure to follow these simple tips for avoiding it effectively.

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