Light Up But Don’t Burn Out: How to combat work related burnout

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In our previous blog we discussed some of the common signs that indicate that you may be suffering from work burnout. If you recognised some of the signs then it’s time to do something about it. Experts have made some great suggestions, and we’ve summarised them for you here:


1)     Take control where you can – Stress is triggered when we feel out of control. At work there are competing demands on your time, possible uncertainty about job security and constant interruptions to your day. Learning to recognise what is and what is not within your control will help you to focus on solutions, rather than panic about the scale of the problems. Letting go of the things that are out of your control will be difficult, but focusing on what you can change rather than what you can’t is essential!


2)     Social Support - your family and friends are there for you. There is no shame in admitting you’re stressed and struggling. Discussing problems with co-workers not only bonds you as a team, but you may get helpful advice and meet new friends. When you’re stressed it is easy to isolate yourself. Remember, humans are a sociable species, and isolation can in itself cause stress. Talking to others can also help you put your problems into perspective. Perhaps most importantly, telling your manager that you’re struggling usually results in them trying to help you to get back on top, and potentially taking some of the pressure off you at least in the short term.


3)     Breathe – When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes out just to breathe and calm yourself. Breathing in for five seconds, holding your breath for five seconds, then breathe out slowly for 5 seconds can really calm you down.


4)     Stop people from interrupting you – An inability to focus can be both a symptom and a cause of stress. At work we are constantly interrupted with emails, people talking or asking questions, phone calls etc. We all know interruptions happen, but managing them is really important. Only answering emails during specific times or closing your office door if you need to focus can help you, and those around you to know when you are in focus mode and when it’s ok to interrupt.


5)     Don’t try and work for ten hours solid – no matter how busy you are, do not try and work with no breaks all day. Firstly, it will send your stress levels soaring, but also productivity will actually go down. Tony Schwartz from the energy project has shown that if you have 90 minutes of total concentration, a short break can clear the build up of stress and help the mind to recover – ready for the next 90 minutes. With no breaks your brain gets fatigued, making you less able to concentrate.


6)     Take a step back – it’s very easy to take things personally at work. Taking a step back, trying to look at a situation objectively and from all perspectives can not only help you to get the solution you want, but also decrease your stress levels.


7)     Get active – Physical activity releases endorphins and other “happy hormones”. The word endorphine is made up of two halves, endogenous meaning “within an organism” and morphine. Endorphines are the body’s natural opiates and reduce pain while making you happy. Unlike opiates you take as drugs, endogenous opiates are not harmful or addictive.


8)     Healthy Eating - Remember the saying “you are what you eat?” if you eat junk you are far more likely to feel like junk. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that food plays an important role on long term mental health. Almost two thirds of those who claim not to suffer from mental health problems regularly eat fruit or drink fruit juice, compared with less than half of those who do suffer from daily mental health problems. The people who report mental health problems tend to ear fewer healthy foods, and are more likely to eat things like chips, crisps, chocolate, ready meals and takeaways. Have a look at our healthy eating blog for tips and tricks on how to eat healthily!