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Managing Stress and Burnout In The Workplace

If you’re feeling stressed or burned out at work, you are not alone.

According to Gallup, burnout is one of the most pressing issues in the workforce. Stress caused by juggling tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities can take a toll on our physical and mental well-being. This week we’ll look at the relationship between stress and burnout by exploring causes, consequences, and strategies to manage and/or prevent them.

The Role of Stress in Burnout

Not all stress is burnout, but when the stress becomes bad enough to impair your ability to function, it becomes burnout. Work stress typically stems from various sources such as high workloads, tight deadlines, interpersonal conflicts, and job insecurity. The pressure to meet expectations, along with increased demands on employees, amplifies this stress. Over time, chronic work stress can lead to burnout and a sense of detachment from your job.

The Vicious Cycle of Burnout

Burnout is more than just feeling stressed or tired; it's a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can affect every aspect of your life.

The cycle often begins with excessive job demands, leading to chronic stress. When this stress isn’t managed, it can evolve into burnout, which then further reduces your ability to cope with work and life stressors. If this cycle continues unchecked, it can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health.

Recognizing the Signs

It’s important to recognize the signs so you can take steps to manage stress and burnout in the workplace as early as possible. Ask yourself these questions:

Female wearing business jacket clutching head while looking at computer screen. Facial expression is one of overwhelm and stress.
  • Do you have trouble sleeping?

  • Have you experienced a change in appetite?

  • Do you feel cynical about your work?

  • Do you lack energy and/or find it hard to concentrate?

  • Do you feel irritable or impatient with coworkers and clients?

  • Do you feel physical symptoms, such as stomach/bowel issues and unexplained headaches?

  • Are your interpersonal relationships feeling strained?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you might be experiencing burnout. Living with unmanaged stress or burnout can lead to serious health consequences, including heart disease, high blood pressure, alcohol or substance misuse, Type 2 diabetes, and general vulnerability to illness.

Prevention and Management

There are steps you can take to help manage stress or fight burnout. The best-case scenario is to recognize and manage your work stress before it leads to burnout, but if you are already experiencing symptoms of burnout, you can still take action. Try some or all of the following to get started:

  1. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between your work and personal life. Disconnect from work-related communication during non-working hours to recharge and rejuvenate.

  2. Practice Time Management: Prioritize tasks and break them into manageable chunks. Try to avoid multitasking, as it can increase stress and decrease productivity.

  3. Self-Care: We tend to overlook self-care, especially when we need it the most. Make it a priority to get regular exercise, adequate sleep, and eat a balanced diet because they are all crucial to managing stress. Engaging in hobbies and spending time with loved ones also contribute to overall well-being.

  4. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques can help manage stress by promoting relaxation and fostering a positive outlook. A recent Gallup survey found that employees who adjust the way they think about workplace stressors in a positive way helped reduce their feelings of burnout. For example, they may reframe their current situation as a challenge or remind themselves that they’ve faced challenges before and succeeded.

  5. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional if you're feeling symptoms of burnout, so they can check for other health issues, such as depression. A supportive network is very important.

  6. Skill Enhancement: Developing new skills or improving existing ones can boost your confidence and sense of control, which can reduce feelings of helplessness. You may rediscover your sense of purpose at work or find a new job that gives you a new challenge.

  7. Take Time Off: Use your vacation days. Taking time off allows you to recharge and return to work with renewed energy.

Woman typing on computer with open notebook next to her.

Most people feel burned out at work from time to time. Recognizing the signs, understanding the causes, and implementing effective strategies are key to overcoming this challenge. As you work toward a healthier work-life balance, you must prioritize self-care, seek support, and foster a positive work environment. Remember, you need to be your own advocate for a healthier life, both professionally and personally.

Need help being your own best advocate?

Feel free to put a career coach on your team! We are happy to help you build the skills so your career can be a source of fulfillment rather than fatigue!


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