Burnout is costing you and your business. Here's how to avoid it.
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Burnout is now officially classed as a legitimate syndrome by the World Health Organisation and is caused by a highly stressful working life. From feeling overwhelmed to finding it impossible to switch off, it’s an epidemic that is spreading fast, caused by distracting technology, information overload and lack of down time.
Legal & General recently studied the working hours of 1,000 British people to assess their work/life balance, with worrying results. 80% of people who work over 50 hours a week described their work/life balance as "poor" with the 3 most common negative effects and causes
Having no time to relax (63%),
No time for exercise (61%)
Missing out on sleep (59%).
So what is burnout and how can we avoid it?
Burnout is when the pressure you are under exceeds your ability to cope, leaving you exhausted and run down. With a higher number of cases in the most demanding working environments.
This is a really big problem for employers, in a recent survey, 2 out of 3 employees said they experienced burnout in 2018 and those colleagues suffering burnout being more than 2.6 times more likely to find a new job.
This is leading to an increasing presence of presentee-ism in the workplace, “presentee-ism” referring to the mental state of being physically present but exhausted, distracted overwhelmed and unfocused. In 2018, 35.6 days of productive time per employee are lost each year due to this problem.
So what can we actually do about it?
The key lies in being proactive rather than reactive:
It is critical to take preventative action because the world is not slowing down. This is a real problem we are facing and it is only going to get worse if businesses are not pro-active and address this before their workforce fully burns out. For the business to remain healthy and successful changes need to be made and quickly.
It doesn’t have to be rocket science either, take a read of our 5 simple tips and tools that you can start to implement today.
1. And breathe:
By focusing on your breathing you can immediately calm your nervous system and lower your stress levels, which will allow you to think clearly.
Start by taking one minute, perhaps during your commute or on route to a potential stressful situation to make a conscious choice to breathe slowly and deeply, focusing on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of the body. You can build on this once you make this part of your day, the longer you sit in stillness the more benefits there are. Never underestimate the power of one breath, it is proven to improve our mental health.
2. Switch off:
How much time do you spend looking at screens? We have to be disciplined in order to combat the impact that addictive technology is having on our minds.
We recommend whatever time you have prior to starting work should be phone-free, as should the hour before bed. Limiting emails to office hours will have a huge impact on your sense of wellbeing. Start by turning off all notifications on your phone, including emails, and scheduling specific times in the day to check emails and social media. Not only does this allow you to set some boundaries with yourself and others, it also helps you to focus more on what you’re doing.
3. Say no:
When under pressure we can often find it hard to prioritise, something that becomes a gateway to feeling overwhelmed and burning out. Take a look at your diary, cut out anything that can be delegated or rescheduled. Add time each day for a simple ‘you time’ activity, whether that be going for a walk, taking time to breath or doing some exercise. Another tip, don’t say ‘yes’ to every invite, unless of course its crucial to your job and that goes for your personal life too.
4. Clear your space:
Clutter makes it hard to focus as the visual cortex becomes overwhelmed by everything in your sight line. In other words, if our space is a mess, our mind is more likely to be too. Whether your desk, bag, car or a room in the house, decluttering your space is a great way to reduce some of the ‘noise’ in your head and quickly make life feel a bit simpler and more manageable.
5. Enjoy the simple things:
If we cannot be content with what we already have, we will never be happy. Or, as motivational speaker Tony Robbins puts it: “Without gratitude and appreciation for what you already have, you’ll never know true fulfillment.”
Working from the mindset that you’ll be happy once you’ve achieved a particular thing a promotion, more money, a partner, a wonderful house, is somewhat dangerous as it relies on external factors and encourages a workaholic attitude. A true sense of peace and happiness comes from appreciating all the small, pleasurable things that make up your life today. Taking time to really notice these, helps you to stay present and enjoy the life you’re living now.
This could be as simple as taking the time to really enjoy your breakfast, looking up at the blue sky, taking a walk outside in fresh air or hugging your partner. This triggers an increase in dopamine and endorphin levels and, critically, reduces those of cortisol, the stress hormone.