Work burnout wasn’t a broadly familiar concept 50 years ago. Today, it’s one of the most common phrases across many industries.
Burnout on the job happens when people become too consumed by their work and eventually become frustrated with what they’re doing and ultimately lose interest.
Work Burnout: a Common Yet Unfortunate Plague
Burnout is the mental and physical exhaustion experienced by professionals when the demands of their job exceed the energy and focus they can devote to their career. Some have called it the epidemic of the modern workplace.
It’s an increasing phenomenon among older millennials. “There’s no question that we’re at greater risk of burnout today than we were 10 years ago,” consultant and author Ron Friedman says. “In large part, it’s because we’re surrounded by devices that are designed to grab our attention and make everything feel urgent.”
The best solution for burnout (other than performing a career pivot and doing something else) is to take some time to recharge. We need time away from work … and this time should be spent intentionally.
“There’s also a whole heap of research about the various brainwave states and how it’s important to go into the lower states in order to not only recharge, but also to process information from the prior day,” explains NetPicks, a day trading platform that often reports longtime traders suffer from burnout.
How do you recharge? It starts with developing a strategic plan that gives high priority to time away from work (physically and mentally). Here are a few suggestions:
- Carve Out Daily Personal Time
Everyone needs a little “me time” on a regular basis. Though the majority of your day may be spent interacting with other people — family members, friends, coworkers, customers, etc. — it’s critical to carve some personal time for yourself every day.
Your first impulse may be to imagine having to get up an hour earlier so you can enjoy some coffee and a good book. But it could be as simple as closing your office door when you eat lunch. Find something that works for you.
- Always Take a Weekend
Nobody needs to work seven days a week. There’s nothing healthy about it, and it’ll ultimately hurt you more than it helps.
A weekend doesn’t have to be two full days, but you should take off at least take one day per week. On that day, you should unplug completely from work; which means no phone calls or email, and a total focus on your personal life.
- Get Exercise
If you spend 50- or 60-plus hours a week stuck in an office, part of your burnout problem may be due to a lack of physical activity. You probably feel a combination of restlessness and mental fatigue, which can lead to a heightened sense of agitation.
Exercise is one of the best solutions, because it allows you to burn off excess energy, but simultaneously provides a safe environment for processing your thoughts.
- Do Something Creative During Your Downtime
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to lie on the sofa and binge-watch Netflix shows. But you don’t want to make a habit out of spending your downtime like this.
In addition to taking your mind off work, you should do something creative. Find a hobby and you’ll discover that the pleasure of this alternative activity will give you something to look forward to outside of work.
Stop Burnout Before it Starts
Once burnout develops, it can be difficult to control. It might seem minor at first, but burnout has a way of expanding to fill your entire worldview without much warning.
The key is to divert it before it starts. If you can take a preventive approach, you’ll enjoy more success and longevity in your career. Don’t delay!