7 Tips for Navigating Burnout Syndrome and Chronic Workplace Stress
Burnout is a growing health issue of our time, occurring when people encounter chronic workplace stress that they cannot handle in healthy ways. In an age when there is more pressure to succeed than ever before, burnout is becoming increasingly common in all fields. Although a growing amount of attention is being paid to this occupational hazard, many people are still suffering from the exhaustion, loss of meaning and physical symptoms that can result from burnout. Although the burnout phenomenon is growing, there are ways to prevent it. The following tips on navigating burnout syndrome can help you to cope with chronic stress in your profession before you develop burnout syndrome.
1. Know the signs of burnout syndrome.
The World Health Organization defines burnout as "feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy." People who are beginning to develop this issue may notice some of the following symptoms:
- physical and mental fatigue
- feeling cynical or negative about your job on a regular basis
- consistently lower workplace performance
- feeling that your role does not make a difference
- having trouble sleeping at night
- increased anxiety both at work and at home
- problems with concentration and memory
- feeling angry or irritable with coworkers, supervisors, and clients
Identifying the first symptoms of burnout is key to navigating burnout syndrome effectively.
2. Get more sleep.
Although it is tempting to take time away from sleep to accomplish more, this can backfire when it becomes a regular habit. People who do not get enough sleep tend to have memory issues, increased negative emotions and other signs of burnout. Getting sleep allows your brain to rest and reset. You will feel better about your career and your existence in general when you have gotten enough sleep.
3. Make time for exercise.
In addition to its health benefits, exercise is important for mental health. It relieves stress and allows a healthy outlet for emotions. At the same time, it causes your body to release increased amounts of hormones associated with happiness and feelings of well-being.
Although it can be difficult for a person dealing with workplace stress to make time for exercise, getting more joyful movement is essential in preventing burnout. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can reduce burnout in as little as four weeks.
4. Boost serotonin levels.
Serotonin is one of the most important hormones in human mental health. This biochemical prevents depression and anxiety while increasing our happiness. Chronic stress quickly depletes serotonin, which may be why it is associated with increased unhappiness.
Taking serotonin is ineffective because this hormone does not pass the blood-brain barrier so does not help increase serotonin in the brain itself. However, you can instead take its precursors 5-HTP and L-tryptophan, which allows your body to produce more of its own serotonin. Experts recommend using a combination of fast-release 5-HTP and timed-release L-tryptophan to raise your levels in a safe and natural way.
5. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness, or the practice of being more in touch with yourself in each moment, has been found to increase our feelings of well-being and help us to deal with stress more effectively. There are several ways to be more mindful in your daily life. Mindfulness meditation is growing in popularity, but you can also be more mindful using yoga and breathing exercises.
6. Increase self-care.
Although you may not be able to put an end to the stressors of your job, taking better care of yourself can help you to deal with stress more effectively. Taking care of yourself reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can have serious mental and physical effects when released in large amounts over an extended period of time.
Your own self-care plan will depend on what unique activities make you happiest. For some people, a morning with friends is a great way of caring for themselves. For others, a quiet bath or a walk in a natural area is more appropriate. All workers should be on the lookout for ways to increase your inner bliss and decrease the effects of a stressful workplace.
7. Talk about your feelings.
Many people who are experiencing feelings of burnout blame themselves. They assume that they are to blame, that they simply have a bad attitude or are too weak for their jobs. However, this is not the truth. Burnout is not a personal failing but rather an occupational hazard affecting millions of people at any given time.
Talking to others in your field can have several effects in regard to navigating burnout syndrome. First, it will allow you to feel less alone with your struggles. Second, you may be able to brainstorm ways to change your position or your workplace to be less stressful. Whether you choose a friend, a sympathetic supervisor, or a mental health professional as your sounding board, reach out for the help you need.