If you’ve experienced burnout before, you know just how much of a toll it can take. Burnout exhausts you mentally and physically. In short, it’s not good for you. So if you want to learn how to prevent burnout from happening, here are a few things you need to know.
Definition of Burnout
Burnout is a term we like to throw around in a lot of situations. If people are pressured to work even when they’re sick, a business might be promoting burnout. If you’re just feeling uninterested in something that used to bring you joy, you may be experiencing burnout. While both situations are applicable to the term, it helps to have a concrete definition at the ready.
According to Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson, burnout is defined as “A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.”
One of the most important things to note in that definition is the mention of both mental and physical exhaustion. Burnout is an issue that affects your entire body, which means prevention involves taking care of your physical and mental health together.
Warning Signs of Burnout
Part of burnout prevention is knowing the warning signs. While burnout may look and feel different to different people, understanding common warning signs can be helpful. If you’re unsure what burnout looks like in your life, here are a few common signs to watch out for.
- Feelings of dread when you think about work.
- Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
- New physical ailments like back pain or headaches.
- Irritation at coworkers and customers who you normally get along with.
- Thoughts of quitting your job.
How to Prevent Burnout
While understanding burnout and knowing the signs can be helpful, it pays when you actively practice healthy habits that can help you avoid burnout in the first place. Here are a few to get you started.
Take Time Off
One of the absolute best things you can do to avoid burnout is to use your PTO. This is especially important if you’re not feeling well. Almost one in three people attend work while they’re sick, which is a recipe for burnout disaster. But you have a responsibility to yourself to take time off even when you’re feeling perfectly healthy. Stress can be just as debilitating as the flu if you’re not careful. So take a mental health day or plan a long weekend in a place you love. And if you are sick, stay home and rest.
Set Technology Boundaries
Smartphones and laptops have made it easier for us to connect to people we love, celebrities we admire, and brands we trust. But too much exposure can have a negative effect on your mental health. A daily or weekly break from technology and social media can work wonders for you. If you’re not ready to abandon your phone for a whole day out of the week, consider setting aside even just two hours every day where you’re doing something other than scrolling through your phone. Pick a different, non-screen activity to do during that time. Dopamine is produced while doing puzzles, so maybe it’s time to start working through that 1,000-piece you’ve had in the closet for years.
Make Exercise a Priority
Exercise is one of the best mood boosters you can invest yourself in. Just 30 minutes of exercise daily can help improve your mood and relax your body. Whether you do 30 minutes of pilates, break up your daily movement into 10-minute intervals, or just go on a long walk, make movement a key part of your daily routine. Exercise also gives you the opportunity to focus your thoughts on how your body feels as it moves rather than the stress of work or daily life. If exercise isn’t part of your daily routine, start small. A few minutes of stretching in the morning or a 10-minute walk during your lunch break could improve your mood for up to two hours afterward.
Preventing burnout begins with understanding and works best when you make small changes to your daily routine. You can set the thermostat to 71.6 degrees for maximum productivity and work or play as hard as you want, but at the end of the day, it’s healthy habits that will change the game. How are you working to prevent burnout in your life?