It’s no surprise that we’re experiencing a burnout epidemic. Technology has made it harder to ever stop working; we glorify “the hustle,” stress, and overwork; and we’re constantly barraged by social media and a 24-hour news cycle. Doesn’t sound very JoyPowered®, does it?
Hard work and small amounts of stress are healthy. Workaholism and chronic stress are not; they can lead to mental and physical health problems. That’s why it’s so important to make the time to take care of yourself.
It’s so easy to get home from work, feel like you don’t have enough time and energy to work out, grab some junk food because it’s easy and it tastes good, sit on your couch answering work emails, and stay up late worrying about what you haven’t gotten done yet and what else might come up tomorrow. Unfortunately, all of that only leads to more stress and burnout.
No one’s perfect – I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t been in that scenario above lots of times – but making some changes to your routine can help you work better, manage your stress, and stave off burnout. Here are some ideas:
As difficult as it can be when we have tons to get done at work and at home, it’s important to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. If you’re regularly sleeping less than that, not only will you probably be sleepy the next day at work, but you may also experience reduced concentration, reaction time, memory, productivity, and decision-making.
You’ve probably heard that meditating regularly can reduce stress and anxiety. There are other benefits, too; meditation trains your mind to focus and can lead to improved productivity, creativity, and overall happiness. Plus, mindfulness can give you better conflict management and interpersonal skills. Mindfulness doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your day; there are plenty of techniques and apps out there that will help you fit your mindfulness and meditation practice into 10 minutes (or less!).
Smartphones and laptops mean that whether we’re in the office or not, we’re always connected to work. That can be great for catching up on emails and giving your schedule more flexibility, but it can also extend work-related stress into your home life. Emails and projects can almost always wait until the next morning, so try turning off your email notifications and not looking at work after you sign off for the day. According to a Kansas State University study, people who unplug from work experience less fatigue and burnout and increased positive emotions and life satisfaction. And don’t forget to take all your vacation time, even if you don’t go anywhere!
Exercise has more of an impact on work than you might think. Even though you can probably think of several things you’d rather be doing with that time, find space in your schedule to regularly exercise. In addition to physical health benefits, it can result in increased concentration, memory, mental stamina, and creativity; faster learning; a better mood; and lower stress. Find an activity you like doing and try to do it at least a few days each week.
Our solution to being busy and stressed is often unhealthy food; it’s easy, our stress is probably making us crave it, and we want the delicious taste to make us feel happier. Eating healthy food is a better plan, though! Not only are there lots of physical health benefits, but like a lot of the other behaviors I’ve mentioned, a healthy diet can give you more energy, a better mood, and improved memory.
I know, all this sounds like a lot – and like I said at the beginning, no one’s perfect (I’m certainly not). Start small and try incorporating one or two of these behaviors, even just a few times each week. You might be surprised by the effect on your stress and burnout…and you might even feel more JoyPowered®!