A common ailment is going around, and you probably know someone plagued by it. Caused in part by social media, the 24-hour news cycle and the pressure to check work email outside of office hours, it could hit you, too — especially if you don’t know how to nip it in the bud.
Burnout is everywhere.
Ninety-five percent of human resource leaders say burnout is sabotaging workplace retention, often because of overly heavy workloads, one survey found. Poor management contributes to the burnout epidemic.
Here’s how to minimize burnout in your life:
• Movement matters: Movement and deep breathing allow your body to complete its stress response cycle by releasing tension that has built up through the day, say Emily and Amelia Nagoski, authors of “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.” Give yourself any physical activity that doesn’t require much thought. Walk, take a Zumba class or scrub the floor.
“I dread the thought of women looking for information about how to deal with burnout and being told to clean their kitchens,” Emily says. But light housework counts as movement, and can help if you’re the type who loves spring cleaning. Even better, engage in physical activity with friends instead of plugging your ears with headphones. Shared laughter and togetherness help you feel safe and lowers stress levels, the Nagoskis say.
• Ask for tiny, noticeable things: “Look at the balance between job demands and job resources,” burnout expert Paula Davis-Laack says. A job demand is “anything in your work that takes consistent effort or energy,” she says, such as meetings, emails or finding new clients. Job resources are “motivational, energy-giving aspect of your work.” That list includes high-quality relationships with colleagues, autonomy, the opportunity to work on new things, having a mentor and receiving clear feedback.
If your job demands are high and job resources are low, ask your boss for small changes to shift the balance. Davis-Laack calls these smalls shifts TNT: tiny noticeable things.
• Create a corporate culture: Dan Schawbel, author of “Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation,” says companies can prevent employee burnout by developing a culture that encourages vacations and breaks. In France, for example, the Right to Disconnect law gives employees time away from email and phone calls after work hours. Promoting flexibility programs also helps prevent burnout because it allows employees control over when, where and how they work, Schawbel says.
• Care for your body, mind — and soul: In our mobile society with families often far apart, many don’t have a community to turn to for help.
“When bad things happen, who do you go to?” psychologist Sheryl Ziegler asks. “It used to be the leader of the church. I’m not saying you must go to the church you went to when you grew up, but that spirituality piece is valuable, no matter your beliefs. If you don’t have a community, make one. It’s that important.”
— Jenny Rough, The Washington Post