Work-related stress is a common but devastating problem. You get frustrated with your job sometimes, but if you dread going to work every day, you may be on the road to extreme stress and burnout. This is a serious issue for your mental health and professional life.
Burnout is a state of fatigue, exhaustion, or frustration that develops after being emotionally or mentally committed to a job, relationship, or lifestyle for a long time. Burnout tends to affect people who started out passionate and excited in their field. When you pour your heart and soul into your work without much payoff, though, you can eventually become completely drained.
Signs of Burnout
If you’ve been feeling this way for a long time, you may not even realize that you’re experiencing burnout. Here are some of the most common signs of burnout:
- Stress, anxiety, or anger before work
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive absences from work
- Physical symptoms like headache or nausea
- Feeling empty or hopeless
- Becoming easily irritated by coworkers
- Constant thoughts of quitting
Causes of Burnout and Stress
Burnout typically happens after a long period of chronic stress. There are many reasons people experience stress and burnout. You may have to work long hours or deal with office politics, micromanagers, or other interpersonal problems. Lack of recognition for your work can take a toll on your interest and motivation. You may stress about being laid off or being unable to rise through the ranks at your workplace.
Your job responsibilities may be a major cause of burnout, too. Having impossible deadlines, a massive workload, or unclear expectations can all cause stress. Repetitive or monotonous work can lead to burnout as well.
How to Avoid Burnout and Stress
No matter the reason for your work stress or burnout, it’s critical that you take steps to maintain or improve your mental health. No job should take a toll on your well-being. Here are six stress management strategies to avoid burnout:
1. Identify Your Stressors
Long-term stress at work can cause you to associate your entire workplace with tension or anxiety. There are probably some specific factors that are the main triggers for your stress, though. Recognizing what causes your stress will help you avoid and prepare for those situations, which reduces your risk of burnout.
Keep a log for a week of the situations, places, people, or tasks that cause you stress or anxiety. Write down a description of the event, how you felt physically and mentally, and how you responded to it. You’ll probably start to see a pattern in your stress triggers.
2. Find a Balance
Burnout only affects people who devote too much to their jobs, and it’s not healthy to give all of your time and energy to work. Finding meaning and fulfillment in other areas of life is one of the best stress management strategies for avoiding burnout.
Don’t be available 24/7 unless it’s absolutely necessary. Feeling unable to escape from your job and work-related stress is a major cause of burnout. Find healthy boundaries for your work-life balance, and stick to them. Some people prevent burnout by turning off their work phone and closing out of their inbox as soon as they get home. Others will detach from work at a certain time every night.
If you complete any work from home, be careful not to let it seep over into your personal life. Work from your desk or table instead of from the couch or bed. Having designated “work zones” and “personal zones” at home can be helpful to prevent burnout.
Make a conscious effort to participate in hobbies or social events. You may feel so exhausted after a long work week that you don’t want to see friends on Saturday night, but you’ll probably feel better after some quality time with loved ones. As tempting as it may be to sleep or watch TV all weekend, engaging in meaningful activities can do wonders for your stress levels.
3. Avoid Office Gossip
Being social with your coworkers can help reduce stress, but getting caught up in the gossip mill can quickly lead to burnout. Gossiping can jeopardize your professional relationships, and it can cause you to see your workplace in a negative light. Try to keep your conversations positive, and change the subject when someone starts gossiping.
Exercise is one of the best ways to manage all types of stress. You don’t have to dedicate hours every day to an intense workout regimen, but getting your heart rate up a few times per week can help you feel better physically and mentally. Exercise also helps you sleep better, which improves your stress management skills and reduces your risk of burnout.
5. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation exercises can be a great part of your daily routine, and you can also practice them in moments when your stress levels start to become overwhelming. There are a wide variety of relaxation exercises for stress management and reducing burnout, so you should try out a few to find the best option.
One popular choice is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness encourages you to focus your attention on your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment without thinking about the past or future. Deep breathing exercises are popular, too. Try breathing in for four counts, holding your breath for seven counts, and exhaling for eight counts. This exercise, known as 4-7-8 breathing, was designed to help you enter a state of relaxation.
If your stress starts to get out of control while at work, you can try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to subtly relax and relieve anxiety. Acknowledge the following in your environment:
- Five things you can see
- Four things you can touch
- Three things you can hear
- Two things you can smell
- One thing you can taste
This reduces stress and anxiety by helping you feel more grounded and present.
6. Try Counseling
Mental health counseling is valuable for a wide range of concerns. Stress and burnout are some of the most common reasons people seek therapy.
If your stress, anxiety, low mood, or other concerns are interfering with your daily activities or quality of life, you should consider speaking with a professional. A counselor can help you identify the causes of your stress and burnout and create a plan to avoid or cope with those triggers.
If you feel unsure of your goals or career path, you can speak with a counselor to get insight. A therapist won’t tell you what to do with your life or your job, but they provide a supportive and nonjudgmental space where you can work through your options.
Therapy is also a great environment to work through anxious thoughts or negative self-talk. Your counselor can work with you to identify unhealthy or unhelpful thoughts, which can reduce your risk of stress and burnout.
Work-related stress and professional burnout are widespread issues, but you don’t have to live this way. To work on stress management and avoid burnout, call The Beverly Hills Therapy Group today. We’re here to help you address stress, burnout, or any other mental health concerns you have.