This week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK. The focus for 2018 is stress – an issue that affects millions across the country and is a key factor in wider mental health issue. Thinking, and talking about, our mental and physical health has never been more important.
One of the biggest stress-related issues that continues to impact the workplace is burnout. Defined by many as a “state of vital exhaustion”, burnout can force people to miss extended periods of work and impact their psychologically and physiologically well-being. According to research from the Health and Safety Executive, 526,000 employees in the UK suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety between 2016-2017.
Overworking, failing to switch off from the office and feeling excessive outside pressures are often cited as causes of burnout. But what can you do if you start to feel yourself heading in that direction?
Here are five tips you can implement immediately:
1) Plan regular breaks
Incorporating mini breaks into your schedule can provide vital breathing space during your day. It may sound strange if you have deadlines to meet but stepping away from your desk for 5-10 minutes can leave you reinvigorated and ready to take on the next task.
For instance, a recent study of 1,000 UK adults found that 1-in-3 people who took regular breaks believed it boosted their productivity and energy levels. It is important to try and focus on something else entirely during this time, too. Some good suggestions include calling a friend or family member, reading a book or listening to a favourite piece of music.
2) Get moving
Introducing even a small amount of physical activity into your routine has been shown to reduce stress levels. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that physical activity “is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.”
You don’t need to run a marathon during your lunch break – even a brisk stroll or walking a few extra minutes to and from work can play their part.
3) Learn to delegate
None of us want to be seen as a slacker at work but, sometimes, that can lead to taking on more than we can realistically achieve. Ultimately, as things build up you can become overwhelmed and tasks that do get completed are done to a poorer standard.
Burnout often manifests itself in senior roles where pressure can be intense. Trusting your colleagues and delegating tasks can help free up time and take some weight off your shoulders.
4) Listen to your body
The human body is a mysterious and intelligent thing. Learn to trust it and it can help you out of some tough situations.
Symptoms of burnout listed by The Guardian recently included; Difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable and feeling detached from friends and loved ones. If you notice these things creeping into your daily life it may be time to take a step back, think about what may be causing it, and make some changes to your routine.
5) Successful sleep
Putting yourself in the position to get a good night’s rest is critical to staving off burnout. Without effective sleep, you’re not giving your body the chance to recover for the day ahead, putting you at risk of falling into a downward spiral.
Results from our own Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment have shown that cutting out that late evening glass of wine or unplugging from work emails late at night can boost the amount of recovery achieved during sleep.
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