Nowadays mental health in the workplace is one of the most talked about topics, with stress, anxiety and tiredness being the center of the debate. In fact, whether you work for a company or as a freelancer, it’s very likely that there will be moments in your work life that will be overwhelming and tiring to the point of reaching a point of so called “burnout”.
Experts from health and nutrition information site Life Hacker Guy have listed some ways with which you can try to avoid burnout altogether or, in the worst-case scenario, recover from one in order to take care of both your physical and mental health.
Symptoms of burnout can be procrastination, loss or appetite, constant tiredness, feeling overwhelmed, and having self-doubt, but as with any other situation, this depends from person to person, as well as the way you decide to cope with it.
1) Get enough sleep
Nothing recharges and calms us better than sleeping the right number of hours per night. Moreover, trying to function with little to no sleep is extremely dangerous and it does nobody any good, including your boss and colleagues.
Eight hours per night should be a must for many reasons: from boosting your immune system, to lowering the risks of serious health problems such as diabetes or heart diseases, and of course improving your mood and reduce stress.
But even though the body needs sleep, sometimes it can be hard to get our mind to cooperate. In these cases, it’s essential to create the right conditions and adopt habits to help you be calm and relaxed when sleep time is near. This can be achieved by keeping your room dark with blackout curtains or a sleeping mask, reduce noises by wearing earplugs and keeping your phone either on mute or in another room entirely, keep temperatures cool, and avoid watching TV or working where you’re supposed to sleep.
2) Exercise multiple times a week
This does not have to mean a gym membership or a home gym, exercising can be as easy and accessible as a walk or a run around the block. If you want to start a journey of light exercise to keep yourself refreshened, healthy and distracted from work, try to start with something that’s too simple to ignore or to post pone, such as a 15-minute stroll round your block, or outside your place of work.
3) Program a balanced diet
Even for people who are not so-called “workaholics”, it’s possible to lose focus of what’s important during the day, and that also goes for meals. Loss of appetite is indeed one of the red flags that can signal burnout and to avoid it it’s important to try and eat regularly. One way to not lose sight of this is to program your meals, and when possible, even meal prep for the whole week. This can be done on a Sunday as a part of a fun ‘weekly reset’ routine, choosing simple but balanced and healthy recipes that can be prepared quickly and that will make you look forward to lunch every day.
4) Treat yourself
It is essential to remember that we do not live to work but rather work to live. Treating yourself to a nice dinner once in a while, or that pair of shoes you’ve put your eyes on can be a great way to feel important again, and to remember that your life does not revolve around work. Burnout can often occur because we lose sight of the why, and these treats will allow you to grasp touch with reality again.
5) Learn to ask for help
Admitting that you’re not in the best shape, or that simply you cannot undertake a task on your own, and that you might need some help is one of the healthiest approaches you could take to not only fight burnout, but to improve your work life as a whole.
You’re not invincible and you are not supposed to be, so always remember to recognize your limits and to not push yourself too far. This applies not only to work life, but to every aspect of it, as it’s possible to feel drained and overwhelmed with any type of social interaction and everyday task, from meeting family and friends to maintaining a healthy relationship, as well as having a balanced lifestyle.
…and recovering from it
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to prevent a burnout, and in the eventuality that you have reached that point where it’s too late for that, you might want to try some things to recover from it slowly but steadily.
1) Admit that you’re burnout
Admitting that you have a problem is always the first step to solving it. Taking a step back and looking critically at what is happening to you, as well as acknowledging what is making you feel this way is necessarily the first thing to do. Then it is necessary and healthy to admit that you are not invincible, that you have limits and that there is nothing wrong with dealing with a burnout.
2) Distance yourself and take a break
As obvious as this may seem, taking a break from whatever it is that is making you feel a certain way is the best way to recharge. At the same time, however, it can also be the most complicated thing to do, as stress and anxiety can arise from the need to complete certain tasks within a certain deadline, and consequently taking a break may seem unthinkable. Still, you need to visualize what’s most important and remember that you can’t do your job properly when you’re unwell.
Moreover, if the burnout was indeed a consequence of a hectic work life, always consider speaking about it with your employer who will most likely have policies in place to assist you through this though time.
3) Seek professional help
In the eventuality that your burnout is so deep and significant that you cannot deal with it on your own or with the help of people around you, the most appropriate step would be to start seeing a therapist. Removing the stigma that often still exists today about seeing a therapist starts with each person in a similar situation that is strong enough to realize that they need better and more effective help and that there is nothing wrong with feeling weak and powerless.
Adam Wright is the founder of LifeHackerGuy.com.