By Alex Hattingh, CPO, Employment Hero
There are three broad symptoms of burnout: exhaustion (mental and/or physical), cynicism (where you feel detached from work) and inefficacy (where a crisis of confidence leads to a fall in productivity). Signs of burnout may include fatigue, troubled sleep, shortness of temper or the inability to focus. Burnout is an increasing problem in our always-on work culture. There is a long list of possible causes of stress in modern workplaces: everything from long hours and heavy workloads to harassment and discrimination. In a world of work overload and constant notifications, it can be impossible to switch off.
What can you do to prevent burnout?
- Be aware
The first step in preventing and managing burnout is awareness. We need to tune into our stress levels, It’s important to be conscious of signs of stress in your body, some of them you’re not always aware of. Is it headaches, is it tightness in the shoulders, is it a lack of energy, is it waking up in the middle of the night?
- Know the signs
If you know the signs that your co-workers are under strain, you can take steps to address the causes of stress in your life – wherever they occur.
Self-care is paramount to reduce stress. It’s important to allow employees to take breaks and unwind from work. One of the most widely recommended relaxation techniques is meditation, but any activity that takes you to your “Zen place” can help you to de-stress.
- Have a positive attitude
Help change the way your employees look at work. Try to focus on the parts of the job that they enjoy and help them find value in their work. Create a positive working environment and build healthy relationships with colleagues to relieve everyone from stress at times.
There are many ways exercise positively influences our mental health. Often, people exercise because it makes them feel good. After exercising, you may tend to feel more energetic, relaxed and positive, which can lead to better sleeping patterns and sharper memory. It can even help with your overall outlook on life. This all has to do with how certain parts of our brain is affected when we exercise.
As we exercise, our heart rate begins to increase, pumping oxygen to the brain. The release of hormones when we exercise also promotes the production and growth of brain cells. Exercise stimulates chemicals in our brain that can improve our mood, memory and learning abilities. When you exercise you boost the production of endorphins that help you relax, feel more pleasure, feel less pain and reduce stress hormones.
- Get enough sleep
Sleep is an extremely important aspect in our lives, but many of us don’t pay much attention to it until it becomes an issue. Just like we prioritize eating and exercising, it’s important that we do the same for sleep. We are all creatures of habit and routine. By reminding employees to make sleep a priority in their schedule, you can reduce risk of sleep deprivation which can affect both cognitive and physical abilities as well as lead to more serious issues like insomnia.
One way to do this is to remember that the bedroom is for sleeping. Only get into bed if you’re tired, even if you’ll only get four hours of sleep. Having a nighttime routine can help you unwind and signal to your brain that it’s time for a good ‘ol snooze. But that doesn’t mean spending long periods of time doing things like reading, watching TV, following up on emails or working in your bed. Keeping these sorts of materials out of the bedroom will help strengthen your brain’s association between your bedroom and sleep.
As humans, we learn by association. An easy example is to look at how our brains learn to associate food with certain hours of the day. If you eat at the same time each day, your body will then learn to release digestive enzymes and send signals to the saliva glands to prepare itself for food. Sleep works much the same. If we only get into bed to go to sleep, our brains will learn to develop a similar association and release the right chemicals so we can get some shut eye