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Aspen Valley Hospital is available 24/7 to provide you with the expert care that you need!

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featured from Healthy Journey

Feeling the Pressure of Burnout? Try These Techniques

Mental Health

Feeling the Pressure of Burnout? Try These Techniques

by Aspen Valley Hospital

May 3, 2024

For many of us, our schedules tend to ramp up in the spring, which makes it a very good time to gauge if there are any areas in your life in which you’re experiencing burnout. Exhausted? Depressed? Irritable? Find yourself procrastinating even the smallest tasks? Burnout can take its toll in subtle and obvious ways, and it’s important to tackle the problem before it creeps into all aspects of your life. Here are some techniques to recognize and manage burnout.

Identifying the Root Causes of Burnout

Pensive millennial girl sit at desk look in window distance thinking or dreaming visualizing, thoughtful young woman distracted from computer work pondering over problem solution, lost in thoughtsAre you able to turn your email notifications off when you leave the office, or do you give in to the urge to check work correspondence long after you’ve clocked out? If you’re someone who can set healthy work-life boundaries, good for you. If not, it’s understandable, especially in the age of smartphones and all-hours expectations from bosses and coworkers. 

Work-related factors contribute heavily to burnout. High workload and unrealistic expectations can quickly drive employees to a place of limited and uninspired productivity. Not being able to effectively maintain a healthy work-life balance leads to work taking over, and eating into the time we normally—and should—reserve for friends, family and self-care. 

Take a moment to consider if your work is rippling into your personal life and, if so, how and when.

Techniques for Combating Burnout

Before you venture into the office or turn on the computer in your work-from-home space, make sure you’ve established a self-care routine. Putting yourself first, and having guardrails to help keep your work and life lanes separate, will help you avoid burnout. Here are some simple self-care steps and practices:

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Establish healthy and consistent sleep hygiene
  3. Plan non-work activities you enjoy
  4. Practice meditation and mindfulness
  5. Check in with yourself frequently, even on a set schedule if needed
  6. Focus on consistency
  7. Follow an exercise routine
  8. If you work at a computer, make sure to get up and walk around every 20-30 minutes
  9. Journal
  10. Set self-care and wellness goals

In addition to following a consistent self-care plan, make sure to set healthy boundaries. This is different for everyone. Some people need to turn their phones completely off once they leave the office to avoid letting work impair time away from it. Others can turn off notifications or set the expectation with employees and coworkers that they won’t be hearing from you between the hours of 6:00 pm–8:00 am. 

Sometimes setting healthy boundaries means recognizing people who disrupt your happiness or affect your mood. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge this on a personal level and set boundaries that keep those people from infringing on your personal wellness. 

Group of people in sportswear practicing yoga indoorsManage Stress Effectively

Managing stress is probably one of the most effective tools we have to avoid burnout. From simple, in-the-moment techniques to longer-term wellness practices, here are some ways to keep your stress levels in check:

  • Take inventory of possible stress triggers. Doing so will help you avoid and manage them in the future. 
  • Practice self-care routines.
  • Get outside and spend some time connecting with nature
  • Meditate—this can be as simple as sitting quietly for a few minutes at a time, or more involved. Spend some time learning about meditative practices and which ones work for you. 
  • Turn to guided imagery, which is the practice of visualization to soothe the mind. 
  • Use breathing techniques to calm your heart rate and reduce stress
  • Talk to someone. This can be a trusted friend or partner, or a mental health professional. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to your primary care provider to learn more. 

Gain more resources on maintaining a healthy mind & body with Healthy Journey from Aspen Valley Hospital.

Seek Support and Connection

If you’re feeling burned out, you’re most certainly not alone. The stresses of daily life can stack up quickly. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others to decompress, talk and get support for your feelings. 

  1. Talk with family and friends. 
  2. Join a support group or community to expand your feelings of connection. If you don’t feel you can find this locally, turn to online groups and resources. 
  3. Seek professional help if necessary. There are a variety of mental health possibilities, including therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists who are trained to help people work through difficult experiences, feelings and emotions. 

Reevaluate Goals and Expectations

Cropped image of creative female secretary creating planning for executive noting important meeting and events organizing work of busy boss while sitting at working place in coworking officeA very quick way to experience burnout is to set unrealistic goals and expectations. Take inventory of your current to-do list to see if you might fall into this category. If so, consider breaking tasks into more manageable steps. Submitting an entire marketing plan by the end of the month sounds daunting, but completing one page of the plan every day is more manageable. If you’re dreading spring cleaning, tackle one small aspect of it every weekend instead of all at once. 

For those who tend toward perfectionism and overachieving, now is a good time to adjust your expectations of yourself and those around you. It can be tough and sometimes it might even require seeking help from a mental health professional. But reconfiguring expectations can free up space to pursue the self-care that reestablishes healthier work-life balance. 

Create a Healthy Work Environment

Again, your work and workplace can become burnout central if you let them take over. Instead of waiting until the workplace becomes problematic, put a roadmap in place that allows for personal space, creativity, growth, healthy connection with coworkers and physical and mental comfort. 

  • Before taking a position or tackling a new project, discuss the workload and expectations associated with it. Make sure everyone involved understands the objectives and is able to meet the goals without sacrificing personal health and wellbeing. 
  • Negotiate flexibility and support. As the workplace continues to evolve post-COVID, now is an excellent time to be open and honest with your company’s leadership about the best work-life balance for you. Inquire about support opportunities through your work. 
  • Advocate for workplace changes if needed. Often, the daily flow of a workplace can take over and small comforts and necessary support systems get lost in the fray. If your organization has blind spots when it comes to burnout, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns, put forth constructive ideas and encourage change. 

Take Time for Rest and Relaxation

A big part of avoiding burnout is being present and focusing on the activities, people and places that make us happy and bring us joy. Carve out ample time to engage with hobbies and leisure activities that relax, invigorate and connect you with others. 

Couple enjoying vacation in luxury resort techniques to manage burnoutDuring the work day, schedule plenty of breaks. These can be small, like stepping away from the screen and focusing your eyes on the view out the window for a few minutes. Or they can be bigger breaks from the grind, such as a lunchtime exercise class, walking out of the office for a meal or even taking a short, refreshing nap

Finally, plan for time away. Vacations and time off allow us to give our brains a break, disrupt the daily schedule and recharge. Scheduling dedicated time throughout the year to get away from it all helps keep us engaged when we are at work as well as provides a bright spot to look forward to.

Conclusion

We all experience burnout from time to time. Learning to recognize when it happens and how it affects your life is an important step in defining the techniques and tools that keep it at bay. Avoid burnout by recognizing it before it takes over, and implementing the important techniques and life practices that keep you excited, engaged and able to take time for yourself when you need it.

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