3 Tips to Avoid Burnout at Work

With the holidays behind us and the new year underway, it’s time to get back to the grind. However, with the chaos that comes during the holiday season, your time outside of the office may not have been the most restful, and you might find yourself more exhausted coming back to work than when you left for some well-earned time off.

Although taking a vacation is often recommended for those who are starting to feel burnt out, this might not actually be the perfect solution. The truth is, burnout can have a number of causes. And while taking time off is important, if the underlying causes aren’t addressed, you can find yourself just as wiped-out when you return to work as you were before your vacation. Here are three tips to help you prevent burnout in your professional career.

  1. Reflect on the root of your feelings

If you haven’t always felt burnt out by your job, a good place to start is to ask yourself what has changed. Is the frustration from a specific process or system at work, or is it a gradual, cumulative buildup of stress? Depending on the causes, many of these could be alleviated through a conversation with a coworker or manager. Even if the cause of stress is just general burnout, it could still be beneficial to try vocalizing these feelings to your boss or someone in the office you trust.

For more guidance on how to pursue these strategies, check out other resources from GovLoop on communicating feedback to peers and managing workplace conflict.

  1. Take some time for yourself

Now I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t this tip contradict the first two paragraphs I just read? Not so! In the battle against burnout, you have to be in it for the long haul, which means fighting back against small, everyday stresses. Taking a little time for yourself each day can be even more important than taking an extended vacation.

If you find yourself feeling like your work is becoming a long slog, find small ways to mix things up. This could be accomplished in a number of different ways. Try taking a five-minute walk for every hour spent working or set up a regular time to get coffee outside of the office with a coworker.

Give yourself things to look forward to throughout the week. Maybe decide to treat yourself to your favorite lunch spot every Thursday, or wear one of your favorite outfits on Wednesday. By giving yourself smaller milestones, you’ll find yourself looking forward to and focused on the positives that bring you joy.

  1. Work on wellness

If you’ve ever had a bad illness, you’ll probably agree that it’s hard to feel happy if you don’t feel well. That being said, wellness is far more complex than simply being under the weather or not. A key factor that can both affect our wellness and contribute to our feelings of burnout is stress.

Stress doesn’t discriminate between your time on and off the clock. If you have stress in your personal sphere, your professional sphere will also be affected. By the same token, cutting down on stress in one sphere will also help you feel more relaxed in others.

Getting better sleep and regular exercise are both classic methods for reducing stress, however, they can often be difficult to achieve due to tight schedules and other commitments. While it’d be nice to flip a switch and start getting an extra hour of sleep each night and an hour of exercise each day, aiming unrealistically high can leave you feeling discouraged. Instead, challenge yourself to get to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and exercise for 15 minutes each day, then work your way up from there.

Again, when working toward wellness and against burnout and stress, you have to be in it for the long haul. Building new habits is hard, and it takes time and dedication. But the benefits are well worth the effort.