Work stress is on the rise in the American workforce. A new Gallup-Workhuman report found that 25% of employees describe being burned out at work very often or always, meaning that for a quarter of the workforce energy, motivation and productivity are declining. The more difficult it is to fulfill your professional obligations, the worse your burnout is. It is crucial to know how to recover from the symptoms.
Stress and burnout are not the same, and many people treat it as stress and try to push through it. The fatigue that comes with burnout is different from the stress you might experience after a long day at work. The fatigue can be so bad that it can cripple. There is controversy regarding the incidences of burnout. It is not possible to cure burnout by taking an extended vacation or working fewer hours. You give up hope of surmounting your obstacles once burnout takes hold.
The condition of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed has been officially classified as a medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization. There are four symptoms of burning out.
- Feelings of energy depletion, exhaustion and fatigue
- Increased mental distance from your job
- Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your job
- Reduced professional efficacy
The rise of job burnout went to an all-time high in the third year of the epidemic. In the month before the survey, the American Psychological Association found that 79% of employees had experienced work-related stress. Three in five workers said that stress at work made them not want to work. A total of 42% had cognitive weariness, 42% had emotional exhaustion and 42% had physical fatigue.
Strategies To Recover From Job Burnout
“Burnout can have a major impact on the overall well-being of people, causing a strain on their lives inside and outside of the workplace,” said Dr. Meisha-ann Martin, senior director of people analytic at Workhuman. When a workplace culture doesn’t feel safe for employees, they don’t have the support they need to bring their whole selves to work, increasing the risk of vulnerability being met by negative consequences A safe workplace celebrates its humans for moments that go beyond the workplace and recognizes the entire human. Sweat equity, burnout, and loss of mental and physical health don’t have to come at the expense of work performance and well-being. Recovering from burnout can be done with a few strategies.
- Get lots of rest. Many people think they can push through burnout, but rest and relaxation are the best medicines. Slow down your pace and pay attention to your body and what it needs. Engage in restful activities such as listening to soft music, reading a good book or gazing out the window at nature.
- Practice self-care. The trifecta of burnout recovery is eating a healthy diet, getting ample sleep, and having a regular exercise regimen. Taking short naps in the middle of the day is restorative. When you have low energy, prioritize the most important work tasks and plan in advance of a full day to match your energy level with the work task.
- Take micro-breaks. Taking micro-breaks—five or ten minutes—throughout the workday helps you unwind and reset your energy level. After hours of sitting, short breaks are effective energy management strategies that can be as simple as stretching, walking up and down stairs, snacking, deep breathing, yoga or a five minute mindful meditation.
- Set work-life boundaries. Work-life balance is essential, especially if you’re a remote worker. Confine work to a specific area so your job doesn’t intrude into the lives of other household members, and you can concentrate. Have a designated space for your workstation instead of spreading work out on the kitchen table or in front of the TV. Putting a hard stop time to your workday is crucial to ending burnout. After hours, keep your work space at arm’s length as if it’s five miles across town, and say no to a job request when you’re already overloaded.
- Meditate. Practice relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation. Mindfulness meditation at your desk for just five minutes is also restorative. It helps you unwind, clear your head and refresh your mind, body and spirit.
- Have a place to vent. Talk about your burnout with a stress buddy or with someone you feel safe and comfortable. It helps to have a helping shoulder to lean on who understands the situation. Sometimes that could be a coworker who is under similar pressures.
- Get professional support. A Vida Health survey by Onepoll reported that 47% of workers believe taking advantage of mental health opportunities is a sign of weakness, and a Visier study reported that only seven percent of burnt-out employees seek support for fear of being stigmatized as incompetent if they speak to a boss. Your first responsibility is to yourself to not let intimidation keep you from talking to your manager about the possibility of a deadline extension, a more flexible schedule or reduced work load. Seeking professional help is essential if burnout symptoms worsen or after you’ve tried the measures at your disposal. Take advantage of counseling and other support programs offered through employee assistance programs. Or contact Mental Health America to find resources closest to you or call 800-273-8255, a 24-hour crisis center.
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What Employers Can Do About Burnout
According to the Gallup-Workhuman report, employees are three times more likely to agree that their organization cares about their well-being when an employer recognizes life events. As leaders and employees become more physically disconnected as a result of remote and hybrid work, incorporating moments of recognition becomes even more critical to bridge the connection gap and create an employee experience that is roots in gratitude, recognition and appreciation, according to Dr. Martin.
Companies should use a strategic,holistic approach with the right policies, processes and technologies in place to support their employees. Managers can help develop action plans for alleviating work-related fatigue by engaging employees in conversations about their burnout and using workplace tools to gauge stress levels. These strategies make it clear that employees are not solely responsible for addressing a problem that is triggered by their work. When organizations don’t address burnout, top talent will leave for companies with better benefits and support.