Reducing Stress and Burnout: A Healthy Toolkit for Working Professionals
Employee burnout occurs when workers have exhausted their physical or emotional strength. It could result from prolonged stress or frustration, and sometimes, the cause is the work environment.
Have you ever felt like you had nothing left to give? You want to do more, and you know you should be doing more. But at the same time, you find yourself watching the time pass by, maybe hissing along or opting to watch a movie instead.
That's what happens when you've burned out, and it's never nice to go through. Your productivity level reduces, and you feel detached from happenings around you.
In some cases, burnout means struggling to concentrate, lacking creativity, or having anxiety. So how do you manage your stress? What are some best methods to relieve stress, and how can you stay healthy?
This article will examine employee burnout, how chronic stress can affect our daily lives, and why stress management is essential in your working environment.
What is employee burnout?
Employee burnout is the result of having little to no physical or emotional strength. It could be due to prolonged stress or frustration, and sometimes, the cause is the work environment. Stressful jobs, unrealistic deadlines, and lack of support and resources contribute to burning out.
In 2019, I worked remotely for an Australian company. We built Shopify stores for clients and handled the marketing too. There were copywriters, designers, developers, and advertisement experts.
I was hired as a copywriter but later moved to Quality Assurance after three months. The role meant supervising all the departments I mentioned above and directly communicating with the clients regarding their respective stores.
Working 40 hours a week in such a role means you almost can't rest — you can't leave client emails unanswered, and you have to check each stage of the store building for it to move on to the next.
Perhaps, the biggest myth about working remotely is that you get to spend less time working and more time doing something else you love.
In reality, the truth is that if you're not careful enough, you'll spend more time than expected because you're at home — it's very easy not to have a closing time.
The danger in working remotely is almost the same as being in a physical office, though — you often get responsibilities that aren't yours, refuse to take breaks, or forget to take care of yourself.
In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to be overwhelmed, whether you're working long hours, having a bad commute to work, or simply worrying about all the things you have to do at work can become too much.
When these worries are left unchecked, they can develop into anxiety and depression, which isn't good for mental health.
What is NOT employee burnout?
Recognizing everyday stress from burnout can be a little challenging. This is because it's normal to be tired from daily activities. For that reason, you should take regular breaks and time away from work to relax.
But not every effect of stress signifies that you're suffering from employee burnout. For example, "compassion fatigue" can be easily mistaken for burnout but it occurs when you've been exposed to someone else's traumatic experience, and it's common amongst health care professionals.
It's classified as secondary traumatic stress, which can be just as bad, if not worse than the actual event. Over half of therapists working with traumatized populations are at risk for secondary traumatic stress or related conditions.
Such conditions include post-traumatic disorder and vicarious trauma because these jobs require so much exposure to human suffering. Studies show that 6% to 26% of therapists working with this demographic are at risk for developing these issues and up to 50% of child welfare workers.
You may find yourself sad or numb, feeling hopeless and restless, or enjoying your favorite activities less. Emotional exhaustion may also cause you to detach yourself from others as a result of compassion fatigue.
Symptoms of Employee Burnout
While there's often some overlap between common stress symptoms and burnout symptoms, they're not the same.
Signs of employee burnout include:
- aches and pains that persist despite rest;
- trouble thinking clearly enough to make decisions;
- irritability with family members and co-workers;
- feeling distant from God;
- sleep disturbances like insomnia;
- poor performance at work (or school);
- depression etc.,
Many times, these symptoms lead to substance abuse (self-medication) or withdrawal from the public. You may find yourself consuming alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes in high volume.
Other self-destructive coping mechanisms are excessive eating, and addiction to sex, gambling, porn, and masturbation. But burnout doesn't only affect how productive you are at work.
It goes beyond work relationships and sips to affect your relationships with people at home, too — friends, spouses, children, parents, or siblings.
Let's examine how workplace stress affects you outside your professional environment.
How work stress can affect our daily lives
It took a while for me to realize the effect of working 40 hours a week with no breaks. In some environments, you could take a break for an hour or at least 30 minutes. But that wasn't the case for me.
The impact of workplace burnout on relationships at home is vast and can affect those you're close to throughout your day-to-day life. It can affect friendships in several different ways, depending on your stress level.
When you don't have time for your friends outside of work, it can affect you emotionally because it's important to feel valued by your peers, even if you spend most hours with them during working days.
At its worst, it could cause resentment between co-workers who were previously good friends or partners — one person may take out frustration about work on the other. This result of workplace burnout goes beyond simple friendships too and can impact relationships with family members if it is one of your top stressors in life.
For example, a parent who feels like they're constantly working to provide for their family may resent children who don't understand their sacrifices. And since your significant other is someone you trust and go back to at the close of work, you might find yourself sharing all your stresses without thinking about whether this will cause emotional exhaustion for them.
On the flip side, employees should also realize that there's nothing wrong with asking for help. Sometimes, we need our friends and family to speak up and remind us of what we have going for us as a person instead of dwelling on the negative impact work has had upon our personal life.
This will go a long way in suicide prevention.
It's important to remember that friends, family members, and significant others play an essential role in your day-to-day happiness and social support. So, it might be worth taking some time out once or twice per week to enjoy their company without bringing work into the conversation too often.
How to identify workplace burnout
The general rule regarding how much stress is harmful in the workplace is an average eight-hour day (or 40 hours a week).
Keep track of how long you spend thinking about your job each day — if it's more than two hours, then the chances are that your stress has surpassed healthy levels.
If this sounds like you, there are simple things that can reduce your overall stress levels without affecting how you do your job and positively impact your mental health.
6 ways to manage work-related stress as an employee
Prevention of job stress plays a vital role in avoiding burnout and treating mental illnesses such as anxiety and trauma.
The absence of physician burnout, for example, also helps to prevent medical errors from a healthcare practitioner, which will result in a higher quality of patient care and wellness.
Here are six stress management strategies to ensure work-life balance:
(1) Take regular time-outs
If you're feeling overwhelmed, you must take some time out of the office to relax, unwind and refresh. A quick break can help combat burnout.
Take half an hour every day just for yourself. You can try yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or even walk around outside to achieve or maintain positive mindfulness.
Do whatever is best for you so long as it is helping you recharge your batteries and prepare for the rest of your day ahead.
Remember, there's no point coming back from taking a break refreshed if all you do is waste half your newfound energy worrying about how stressed you were before!
(2) Learn how to say 'no' at work
Another way to reduce how stressed you are at work is by learning how to say 'no'. This might be difficult for some people, but it's okay not to take it on if you're overloaded with extra work that isn't part of your job description.
By saying no, you'll save time and energy along the way — both things that can improve how effective you are in the long run. Remember that it's not what you say but how you say it that matters the most.
While it may not be easy to set healthy boundaries, learning to say 'no' also helps you avoid stressful situations.
(3) Include multivitamins in your daily or weekly intake
Whether you work in an office or from your comfort zone, your energy levels are bound to depreciate with each task you complete. In other to stay productive, you should add multivitamins to your daily or weekly consumption.
Vitamin B boosts your energy levels and helps to decrease anxiety and stress. Many of us work with computers for lengthy periods, so taking vitamins also helps to protect our eyes against harmful light waves.
This is why we created the Feel Good plan. It's curated to help you take advantage of your creativity by boosting and maintaining your energy levels. The vitamins can also help improve your memory retention, which is essential for the success of your tasks.
(4) Take care of your physical health
This will help with reducing stress levels within work. If your body is happy, then so too will be your mind.
Treating yourself well means not forgetting to eat healthily or getting enough exercise. And most importantly, remember to get a good night's sleep every day.
When you haven't had enough sleep, your mind and body will be tired — not just during the day but also when you're at work. Regular exercise also helps prevent heart disease, and the more physical activity you're involved in, the better your mental health.
(5) Change how you think about stress
If one thing reduces how stressed you are, it's how much you care about your stress levels. Minimal stress is good for us since it gives us the energy to help us through difficult times.
The trick is to see how everything can be an opportunity rather than a threat. Don't treat every stressful moment as something terrible. Instead, recognize how it could be an opportunity for growth or personal accomplishment, whether professionally or otherwise.
And even if things do go wrong sometimes, there's plenty of other things that will give positive results too. Don't look at stress as being something that will always have negative consequences.
For example, studying can be tiring, and fulfilling responsibilities can be demanding. However, the consequences of not doing them far outweigh the benefits, if any.
(6) Reduce how stressed you are by changing how you see your work environment
Identify possible stressors, and find ways to reduce the stressful parts of your job.
If you feel like you need some changes, bring the matter up with someone who has authority to get their opinion or take action. If it's not tackled head-on, it will only fester and become a much bigger problem later.
You can also examine your interpersonal relationships if things aren't going how you'd hoped.
Expressing how you feel about other people in the office may help reduce the stress you're going through. But remember that there might be consequences depending on your place of work and your presentation.
This is why it's essential to work in a healthy environment, but how can an employer ensure the workplace is welcoming for employees?
Effective ways to manage work-related stress as an employer
The company culture starts with those at the helm.
It's not just your duty, as an employer, to pay salaries and set deadlines. Since a company without healthy employees is as good as dead, an employer should implement effective strategies to help manage stress and prevent burnout.
The following are five effective ways to cultivate a healthy work environment:
(1) Schedule regular surveys
One way is through surveys, which allows employees to explain their feelings anonymously without fear of repercussions from management.
The surveys can be instrumental in helping employers understand what areas need improvement so they can implement changes before it's too late.
Such changes will help those suffering from job-related distress, such as anxiety or depression caused by working conditions at the company.
(2) Set time for breaks
Another tool is implementing activities built into the schedule where staff members have time set aside just for themselves with no other duties required.
They can use this time for relaxation activities such as exercise, meditation, or even take a walk outside. The more people feel they can switch off and recharge, the less likely burnout will occur at work.
(3) Provide educational resources
Employers can also prevent chronic stress by providing mental health resources and training programs designed.
Many seminars are available now that teach employees about mindfulness techniques, which helps them cope throughout their day-to-day routines.
(4) Show appreciation for work done
It's important to show appreciation often, not only for good work but to remind staff members of their personal and professional impact on your company culture.
By doing so, you reinforce positive feelings towards the workplace and employee engagement rather than negative ones like resentment, anger, or depression, which leads to burnout.
(5) Have multivitamins at work
You should also provide multivitamins at your workplace for employees to maintain and replenish their energy levels during their daily activities. This will help to keep their productivity at a healthy level.
Our Essential Vitamins package will help everyone at your company to keep their energy up and have a productive day, especially at work.
With the world shifting toward working remotely, it'll also help employees succeed in their homes or wherever they're working. Your employees will have better memory retention, which helps to pay more attention to details, and healthier eyesight.
By using these strategies, employers can help reduce the risk of stress-related problems and ensure their workers stay healthy and productive.
Stress happens to the best of us. Whether you're a tech-bro, writer, HR, or salesperson, events, and people will affect how you feel.
But leaving it unattended can lead to chronic stress levels, negatively affecting your productivity and personal relationships. By managing employee burnout, you can stay happy and healthy throughout your day-to-day activities.