Burnout associated with chronic work stress is a growing global concern. It leads to a state of mental exhaustion at work & lack of motivation. Eventually it ends up reducing individual’s & teams’ productivity.
In fact, after surveying nearly 7,500 full-time employees, it was found that 23 percent reported feeling of burn out at work. Either often or always, this is in addition to 44 percent who experienced feelings of burnout sometimes.
These individuals (who reported burn out) are 63 percent more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times more likely to seek alternative employment.
Tips to Overcome Mental Exhaustion at Work
In the workplace, ultimate goal is to get things done the right way. Whether you’re a manager or an employee, this list of tips can help in reducing your risk of burnout. Share this list with your team/co-workers so that everyone can benefit as a collective unit.
Take Advantage of Opportunities to Rest Your Mind
Throughout the day, take advantage of those small moments — moments when you can detach. For example, if you take the subway to work, use this time to listen to relaxing music, write in your journal, or simply do nothing at all.
Any opportunity to practice mindfulness is beneficial. Especially when you purposely incorporate this meditative practice into your routine (i.e. during your morning shower, while you’re eating breakfast, etc.).
While studying work-related burnout among healthcare providers, it was found that a mindfulness-based stress reduction course significantly improved both burnout scores and mental well-being. The course included four practices, including mindful movement, body scan, walking meditation, and sitting meditation.
Reduce the Amount of Sensory Input You’re Exposed To
If the office space is crowded and congested, it can become a problem. Overstimulation caused by loud noises, crowded spaces, strong aromas, and tactile sensation, can lead to sensory overload.
When you do not get a break from this level of overstimulation, it can lead to increased feelings of anxiety, confusion, and fatigue. After all, our brains are not designed to withstand a constant stream of stimuli. To combat this, be sure to find a quiet space where you can unwind. For some, this may be a dim conference room and for others, this could be a wooden area.
Breaks During Your Workday
Some feel as though breaks reduce productivity. After all, time is money, right? Well, this isn’t always the case. Research shows that frequent breaks are beneficial. In fact, it was found that the most productive people are those who work an average of 52 minutes with intense purpose, followed by a 17-minute break.
The key here is to work for nearly an hour, focusing solely on the task-at-hand. This means, not checking emails, Facebook, or any other form of distraction. Once it’s time for a break, you should completely remove yourself from your work, allowing your mind to relax. More specifically, get up from your desk or work area, take a walk, read for pleasure, or talk to friends at work.
Take Some “You Time”
Outside of work, it’s imperative to recharge your batteries — even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. Just as you would schedule a business meeting, schedule free personal time on your calendar.
Also, think more about your basic needs in regard to optimal health and well-being. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating a balanced diet? These questions may seem obvious. However, busy professionals do not always make time for their most basic needs.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to simply be honest with yourself. You need to stay clear from unrealistic, expectations at work. It’s also vital that you have the right tools, resources, and skills to meet the rightly set expectations. Onus of failure can many a time lie with the lack of resources.
If you are naturally an overachiever, this can be challenging. This is why you must work with other top performers with the highest standard tasks. When you work with others who are closer to your competence level, the workload will be more evenly balanced, benefiting everyone involved.
Permit Yourself to Disconnect
For most, working hours involve phones and computer screens. Of course, this has allowed companies to thrive and careers to thrive, as these devices boost productivity and expand networks. However, with advances in technology, it has also made it harder for people to disconnect from work, as emails and texts are so highly accessible.
It is particularly important to disconnect at night, as the blue light emitted by tablets, phones, computers, and even televisions negatively impact melatonin production — the hormone associated with healthy sleep/wake cycles.
To take this one step further, once you begin to disconnect from your devices, in a way that does not impact your workday, you should also focus on reconnecting with yourself, those you care about, and the world around you. As suggested above, mindfulness can help you bridge this gap, in addition to meaningful alone time and more quality time with loved ones.
Make Organization a Top Priority
There are so many small steps you can take to feel more organized and in turn, less overwhelmed. First of all, make a simplified to-do list, keeping all of your upcoming tasks in a centralized location. Then, prioritize, focusing on one key task per day.
As stated by Harvard Business Review, making progress on “meaningful” work is critical when aiming to boost motivations, perceptions, and emotions during the workday. So, in order to contribute to a greater feeling of accomplishment, look at your list and select something that will either significantly reduce your stress levels or a task that will allow you to make progress on a larger project. The key here is to break large tasks down into smaller milestones so that at the end of the day, you can cross some level of progress off your list.
Also, invest in a productivity app, avoid multitasking at all costs, minimize the amount of stuff in your life (both at home and the office), find a permanent home for commonly misplaced items (i.e. keys, glasses, important paperwork, etc.), and take control of time management.
Mental exhaustion at work is a reality. Many live under the impression that they are not affected by it, but they are mistaken. Identifying mental exhaustion at work before it turns into burn out is critical to everyone’s career.