Promoting self-care in the workplace is now, more than ever, vital to improve health, wellness and productivity. Although the world is on the road to recovery, many are still experiencing health problems due to stress and burnout — from staff and management teams to frontliners.
The Danger of Burnout
According to health professionals, change in working patterns and work environment as a result of the pandemic has led to increased mental health issues. Burnout, one of the most serious problems, can leave people feeling tired, empty and unable to catch up with the demands at work.
A survey of more than 700 thousand employees worldwide found that comments related to burnout doubled during the pandemic – Rising from 2.7 percent to 5.4 percent, from March 2020 (before lockdown) to April 2020 (during lockdown).
What is Burnout?
Burnout is defined as the state of emotional and mental exhaustion caused by overwhelming stress. It brings about the feeling of being emotionally drained and lack of motivation causing poor performance and inability to meet work demands.
Here are some work burnout symptoms:
- They view their job as stressful and frustrating
- Regular headaches
- Emotional exhaustion
- Reduced performance
Even though burnout isn’t a diagnosable psychological disorder, it should still be taken seriously and should be part of your company’s people management or employee management initiatives.
It shares similar symptoms with depression, which is a serious mental health issue. People with depression will go through detrimental thoughts about life and not just work, resulting in negative feelings. Symptoms include hopelessness, loss of interest in life and thoughts about suicide.
Research from Harvard suggests that workplace stress contributes to at least 120,000 deaths annually with health care costs amounting to as much as $190 billion in the US alone.
Burnout is hurting companies, from decreased productivity and quality of work to absenteeism and high turnover rate. Its impact has become so big that it’s important for businesses to plan a process to manage and prevent it.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is an act that individuals take to care for themselves. This includes activities related to staying mentally and physically healthy. It ranges from nutrition, physical activities, hygiene, seeking medical care, and more.
It’s an initiative that a person can take to manage the stress in their life in order to take care of his or her own well-being.
Self-care Tips for Mitigating Burnout
Burnouts can affect anyone, whether you’re a frontline worker, a staff, a business owner, a team lead, or even a capable therapist — anyone can suffer from emotional and physical fatigue. This is why it’s important to have a self-care plan or a routine. In order to manage others or help others, you have to make sure that you have your own need in check.
Use the following self-care tips if you’re experiencing signs of burnout at work or you want to prevent it from happening.
1. Make your health a priority
Make sure you’re eating healthy and getting enough sleep. A significant connection exists between productivity and sleep. When your mind is well rested, productivity tends to increase.
Research found that workers who had insomnia spent three times longer on time management throughout the day compared to those who slept well. Sleep deprivation can also lead to demotivation, lack of focus and poor memory.
If you struggle with getting high-quality sleep, create a bedtime routine. It will help train your brain to think that a particular setup is a signal to unwind and settle down.
It helps to turn off your phone screen or place your phone away from your bed to keep away distractions. Some screens emit blue light, a kind of light that inhibits the brain’s ability to produce melatonin (a sleep hormone).
You can also take a warm bath. Warm water tends to be soothing and can induce your body into a state of relaxation.
The habits you want to incorporate into your routine depends on you. The key is to them consistently.
2. Exercise and stay present
Exercise improves your mood, giving you energy and prolonging your life span. A regular workout routine also promotes better sleep and prevents diseases.
To start incorporating exercise into your life, aim for at least 15-30 minutes of physical activity every day.
It can be challenging at the beginning, but you can gradually include exercise or working out into your routine if you make it fun for yourself.
Determine your goals and what motivates you. This is a good way to start because once you determine why you want to work out and what makes it fun for you, picking the activities to include in your daily schedule would be easy.
When setting up a realistic workout routine, keep these in mind: schedule, commitment and not overdoing it.
Find time in your busy day to exercise. If you can’t do 15 or 30 minutes, then at least do ten minutes a day – whether it’s stretching, a brisk walk, or yoga.
Next, set a goal for yourself that will make you commit to it. You can also take a class or exercise with a friend. Exercising online with peers is a growing trend, mainly because it’s fun and it gives people motivation to stick with a routine.
Finally, don’t over-exert yourself. Make sure to take it slow and always drink plenty of fluids before working out.
3. Develop a self-care plan
Schedule your self-care time like you would any other tasks. Once you’ve entered it in your calendar, stick to it. Activities can vary from a doctor’s appointment, a massage appointment, to regular exercise. It can be meditation, alone time, a get-together, or just sit down and have a nice meal – anything that doesn’t involve you doing anything stressful.
4. Learn to say “no”
It’s important to understand that you don’t have to agree to do everything everyone asks or attend every invite you get. It can be hard to do so at times because it might have become a habit. However, there are polite ways of saying “no.” Remember: put yourself and your mental health first.
Here are some creative but polite replies to say you’re unavailable:
- I appreciate you asking me, but I won’t be able to make it this time. Thank you so much.
- My schedule is packed at the moment.
- I won’t be able to make it today. Maybe some other time.
5. Upskill and learn new things
Learn additional skills to feel more confident about your ability to successfully complete tasks. Having the confidence to finish tasks successfully reduces job-related anxiety and stress.
Another self-care tip that involves learning is to take up new hobbies or discover new self-care practices. Find practices that you’d enjoy and will deliver the most benefit to your productivity and life.
No matter how big or small the practice is, be open to trying them out. Whether it’s adopting a new breathing method, or practicing no devices an hour before bedtime. If it doesn’t work, try another one.
6. Decrease time on social media
Social media has become a part of our everyday routine. The average amount of time users spend on social media is two hours, and this increases depending on the country or age group.
The medium has now become more than a tool to connect and communicate, somehow, it has turned into a numbers game. There’s even the creeping thought that if you don’t participate, you might miss out on something. It’s important to just detach yourself from it whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Social media isn’t a tool to consume news and information. You have media outlets and local news websites for that. Don’t attach “staying present and updated” to social media. It’s a tool for communication; it doesn’t require your participation.
Unfollow accounts that don’t make you feel good or make you feel stressed out.
7. Surround yourself with positive folks
It goes without saying but bears repeating that you have to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Pause for a while thinking about the people around you. Are they encouraging you? Are they supportive? What do they care about? Are they practicing self-care? Or do they drain your energy? Criticize your actions?
The people you associate with will have an effect on your mental health and actions so choose wisely.
If you have a family member who’s toxic or isn’t supportive of you, then find professional help so you can ask for a proper way to handle the situation.
8. Ask for help
If you feel like the pressure has built up and you’re experiencing burnout, ask for help. Talk to someone you trust. Share your problems, concerns and thoughts with them. That someone could be a spouse, a sibling, a close friend, or a trusted co-worker. Make sure that you ask help from a person who genuinely cares about you and won’t divulge or use the information against you.
You can also seek out personal coaching. It’s best to reach out to a professional when we need support and don’t know what to do.
Everyone faces stress at work or life and most people burn out from it. This is why self-care is important. Make self-care a priority and a practice, so you’ll feel energized at home and at work.