The summertime is when many of us take vacations from work – whether it’s a staycation, camping, or somewhere exotic. Sometimes, it is the case that even after a vacation, you still feel stressed, fatigued, down, or unmotivated. You may begin to ask yourself – am I burnt out? Is burnout even possible following a vacation?
Burnout is characterized by symptoms such as low motivation, stress, feelings of anxiety or depression, fatigue, and an overall loss of interest in work or other activities. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently categorized burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”, further recognizing how widespread this problem has become.
So how did I become burnt out?
Burnout occurs when an individual experiences chronic stress, usually from the workplace, that has not been well managed.
Someone who experiences burnout is usually someone who works long hours, does not take many breaks, eats lunch at their desk while still working, and has troubles disconnecting from work even after getting home. This may look like checking work email or voicemails during personal time, or finding yourself thinking about work while a loved one is talking to you. Does any of this sound familiar?
The good news is, burnout is reversible and you do not have to live this way! The first step in working to heal burnout is recognizing that it’s present – so you’re already one step closer to doing something different!
If you’ve identified burnout as a problem for you, it may be helpful to try out a few of these tips to help get your burnout back in check.
- Take your breaks.
Believe it or not, we get breaks at work for a reason! Even short breaks at work can be extremely effective in giving your brain some downtime and feeling refreshed.
Make optimal use of your breaks by taking them at a place that isn’t your desk or your workstation. Go to the break room, take a walk outside around the building, or visit a surrounding park or café to get a change in scenery.
While on your break, do something that is truly pleasurable to you such as walking, reading a book, meditating, or a hobby. Make sure that you also give yourself time for the necessities, such as eating lunch or a snack and staying hydrated.
2. Turn off the phone.
It can be so tempting to check your phone during a break or even after work for work emails, text messages, or voicemails. Unfortunately, when we are constantly checking our phone, we aren’t allowing our brains time to just rest and relax which can increase our chances of feeling burnt out even more. If you have a work phone, turn it off during your breaks and when you get home from work. This allows you time to truly unwind, and be more present with your personal life.
3. Separate work time and personal time.
As I mentioned in my last point, turning off your work phone while at home can be a great way to separate work time and personal time.
Other ways to separate work time and personal time may include adding a transition ritual to your routine between the time you leave work and arrive home. A transition ritual may look like changing out of work clothes and into more comfortable leisure clothes, completing a mindfulness practice, or stopping for a workout at the gym between work and home. These types of rituals can be a great signal to yourself that the workday is over and that the time ahead is for your own personal enjoyment.
4. Reconnect with what’s important.
There are many reasons why we work so hard at our place of employment. Some of the obvious ones may be that we want to please our employer, that we want to earn a promotion, or be somebody that others at work can count on.
However, work isn’t the only thing we have going on in our lives! Many of us have friends, families, hobbies, communities, sports, and spirituality that is important to us as well. If you are feeling burnt out, it can be invaluable to reconnect with these other values, recognizing that although work is an important thing in many of our lives- it is not the only thing.
In sum, if you are feeling burnt out you are not alone. Almost all of us experience points in our lives where we feel overwhelmed and stressed about work. I hope that these tips are helpful in finding ways to help cope with burnout, so that you can get back to living the life that’s important to you!
If you feel you are still struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to find out how individual counselling may be helpful for you. I can be reached by email at Kayleen@rootsinwellness.ca or by phone at 289-689-7194.
Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP
World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/