If work isn’t making you happy, chances are it isn’t making you healthy either.
Research has indicated that employee burnout is responsible up to 50% of workforce turnover. Despite more and more organizations focussing on employee engagement, it seems that not only is stress in the workplace on the rise but so are stress-associated health risks such as cardiovascular disease.
Burnout occurs when mentally or physical ability to function is severely affected, due to exposure to prolonged stress and/or frustration in the workplace. Sources of stress can vary, but are most often connected to unhappiness in a workplace due to: excessive workload and high expectations or demands, feeling choiceless or not in control with your work or business tasks, or a toxic or unsupportive work culture. Burnout very rarely affects just one area of life – it impacts both professional and personal quality of life including relationships, home life, and all aspects of mental and physical health and wellbeing.
If you are unhappy at work, you may be a prime candidate for burnout unless you take steps to jump tracks and begin proactively taking your health and happiness back into your own hands.
Here are 4 key steps you need to take to go beyond the burnout path and thrive in the workplace:
1. Stop ignoring the physical signs
Be honest – is your first reaction to signs of stress to deal with it – or ignore it and keep going? When you and your body are under stress, there are a lot of symptoms that can pile up: a sense of overwhelm in daily life, lack of sleep, inability to make decisions. Eating habits can change, you can lose weight, gain weight, and develop digestive problems.
All too often it is only when we get to burnout or our bodies stop functioning in some way that we are forced to take notice, do we actually make a different choice or look at what is causing this.
No matter how much you may want to, you can’t bypass your body – it knows when it is being neglected, and it will eventually make you stop if you don’t pay attention. Conversely, your body can contribute a whole lot of generative energy to you and your life if you honor it’s requirements. Start reconnecting with your body’s needs by asking these questions:
- Do I have a physical outlet for stress and anxiety that works for me?
- If not, what could be a fun way to release stress and nurture my body?
- What does my body require of me to create a greater sense of ease and wellbeing in my life and at work?
If you are willing to commit to your body and its care, it will, in turn, nurture and contribute to you.
2. Add more things to your life rather than eliminate them
One of the biggest misnomers we function from regarding stress and overwhelm is believing that eliminating things from our lives will reduce it – when in fact the opposite is usually true. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the truth is we are by nature, creative beings. When we have multiple things on the go, using our brain, creativity, and engaging ourselves in different ways, we tend to flourish, not diminish.
Still not convinced? Try this: instead of figuring out what you should limit or eliminate in your life to reduce stress, ask, “What can I add to my life today that would make my life more ease-filled?” and see what doors might open to you.
3. Move more
Another mistake we can make, especially when stress develops into sleeping problems, mental exhaustion and other feelings of low energy, is thinking that we need to rest or sleep more. You may feel like you want to sleep, but in reality, moving can create more ease, relaxation, and rejuvenation for your body than sleep or rest can – especially if you work at a quite sedentary job. If you get up and move several times throughout the day, and at least 30-60 minutes per day in total, you will get a lot more out of the resting and sleep time you do have.
4. Reassess your job or position
Too often, we will stay committed to trying to deliver what others think is valuable in business, rather than taking an honest and vulnerable look at what would really work for us. Take a moment to assess your current position: have you outgrown your current role and not acknowledged it? Have you been trying to be or do something that isn’t really playing to your joys, talents, or strengths? Are you stuck on autopilot or in a comfort zone with your work that is now confining or limiting you?
It takes courage to go beyond your comfort zone and look at what is and isn’t working in your life and make the necessary changes – but it is also rewarding. Review your targets in business and life – are they still relevant? Have they changed or grown? Do you need to add to, change or re-invent some aspect of your life?
Look at where you’d truly like to be doing now and in the future. Be honest about whether your current business and work choices will take you there, and commit to doing whatever it takes to have what you truly desire. Burnout is most often a result of becoming disconnected physically, mentally, and creatively in regard to our working lives. It doesn’t have to be difficult to turn the tables on burnout, but it does require us to look more broadly at what it takes to be fully and happily engaged. Not only do we need to prioritize better self-care and stress management practices to pursue a road beyond burnout, we must also make the commitment to actively pursue our strengths, talents, interests, and our unique capacitie