Feeling irritable, bored or finding you have a lack of energy? Maybe you are becoming cynical about your job. These are all signs that you might be experiencing burnout. You’re not alone. In 2014, 31 percent of employees in North America reported having constant levels of stress, according to Statista. Not surprisingly, surveys have consistently shown that stress and burnout have increased over the last 10 years. “High stress and burnout in today’s culture have reached epidemic levels,” said Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, in a recent press release.
The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as the state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubting how competent you are about the value of your work.
Like many professions, engineers often deal with stress on the job. A typical day might include multiple meetings, complex problems to solve, intense work commitments and tight deadlines. Hence, it becomes more challenging to deliver the best results on the job when you’re burned out. It can also lead to health problems, such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes, substance abuse or obesity.
When your job begins to affect your health and happiness, it’s time to re-evaluate your situation and consider making some changes to your routine.
Here are 5 ways to avoid burnout, stay motivated and maintain what most of us strive for: work-life balance:
Take a break
When you’re a dedicated employee and a hard worker, it’s common to feel like there isn’t enough time to take a break. There’s just too much on the “to do” list. However, by making it a priority to take some time off to recuperate and relax, it can help you perform your job more effectively. Whether that means taking regular breaks throughout the day, a long weekend or a mini vacation, some time off will help give you a fresh perspective when it’s time to get back to the task at hand.
Find a Hobby
By doing something outside of work that you enjoy and find interesting, it can help you rejuvenate. Take an art class, learn how to cook a new dish, join a sports team or find a book club. When you engage in a certain activity rather than lounging on your couch, it can actually give you more energy and help your productivity on the job.
Talk to your supervisor
Consider having a frank conversation with your boss and let him or her know what is going on. Be honest! This will give you an opportunity to find out how your supervisor thinks you are performing, talk about your current workload and help reprioritize your responsibilities if necessary.
Take care of yourself
It may sound obvious but make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep, drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy diet. It’s also important to get regular exercise even if it’s as simple as going on a daily walk. By taking care of yourself, it will help you better deal with stress and anxiety.
Put away digital devices
Before smart phones and other digital devices became mainstream, employees used to leave their work at the office. Now, most would agree that it’s nearly impossible. With the widespread use of cell phones, people carry around their work throughout the day. To help avoid burnout and keep some balance in your life, consider turning off your cell phone after work or at a certain time of the day to give yourself some downtime and decompress.
Some companies are now providing prevention programs and other services to address stress and anxiety among employees and offer tips on how to avoid burnout. Additional perks are also being incorporated in businesses such as onsite climbing walls, free housekeeping, chef-catered meals and free gourmet snacks, and even a company dry cleaner. These extras are all meant to help employees de-stress and feel supported. Companies are realizing that it’s time to put people first. “Nothing is more valuable to a business than having a healthy, happy and inspired workforce,” said Jennifer Morgan, president of SAP North America.
It might be worth bringing it to your supervisor’s attention and help form a program at your own place of employment. Even if it’s not a formal program, consider starting a walking club at lunch, suggest employees play a sport together on the weekends or initiate a club with those who have a common interest. These are all ways to collaborate with coworkers, which can ultimately lead to a positive work environment.
You might also want to take a closer look at your situation and recognize there is a problem. Ask yourself if your current job is the best fit. If not, look at the possibility of changing roles at work or finding other work that might be a better option.
It’s easy to forget the importance of work-life integration. By taking time to recognize the signs of burnout and addressing the symptoms, it can help you become more satisfied with your job, lead to a growth mindset and help you become more successful in your personal and professional life.
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