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7 Ways to Handle Burnout in the Workplace

The conversation around burnout and mental health has increasingly become a focus for workplaces. Yet, with burnout on the rise, many workplaces are not equipped to deal with it successfully. 

If you look on news websites, especially HR or business-specific ones, you can see just how much of a problem burnout has become. Burnout is causing employees to leave their roles, it reduces their productivity, work satisfaction, and it can have a huge effect on company culture. 

In this episode of The Learning Xchange, Matthew Brown (Schoox’s VP of Learning and Brand Success) shares his top ways to handle burnout in the workplace. 

He explains how to identify burnout, what could be causing it, and why it’s vital that we don’t just ignore it.

Listen to the podcast below or keep reading to learn more.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by ongoing stress.

It looks a bit different for everyone, but there are some common symptoms that most people share. The main one is a state of exhaustion. That’s what most people associate with burnout. 

Other common symptoms include cynicism in the workplace and inefficacy or not being able to get things done at all, on time, or at a high quality. 

Generally, when people feel like they’ve lost control of a situation, this can accelerate the feeling of burnout.  

What causes burnout?

There’s often no single cause for burnout. It could be problems at work, overwork, or a lack of a work-life balance. Maybe there are things going on in your personal life as well. 

Whatever the problem, it causes a situation where it feels impossible to focus at work. This usually results in employees looking disengaged or struggling to complete tasks. At some point, they may just stop altogether and wait to be told what to do. 

The fact is burnout is real. It can and does happen to everyone at some point. 

How can you prevent your own burnout?

In order to help your company manage burnout, you need to look at this from your own perspective first. What can you do to prevent your own burnout first?

Here are seven steps to prevent or manage burnout.

Practice self-care

Self-care can come in many forms. It can be as simple as blocking off time each week for your hobbies. It could be spending time reading, cooking, gardening, exercising, or giving back to your community. The first step is figuring out what matters most to you and spending time just on that. 

You don’t have to set time aside every day if it’s not feasible. It doesn’t have to be a whole day or even a whole hour. Just a spare 15 minutes here and there is better than nothing.

Get some therapy or counseling

Getting therapy has, in the past, felt like a negative thing. It was something that people just didn’t talk about. However, times are changing, and people are much more open to therapy. 

If you haven’t considered it before, don’t overlook how therapy could help you with burnout.  Whether it’s a licensed therapist or a trusted confidant, finding someone to talk openly to without judgment can be hugely beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing. 

The act of talking and expressing yourself ensures that your thoughts don’t stay bottled up, leaving you feeling overwhelmed. 

Be transparent

It’s okay to let the mask down. You don’t have to be invincible or perfect. In fact, demonstrating to your employees and colleagues that it’s okay to make mistakes and stumble lets them know that you’re not superhuman. 

Sometimes you need to lead by example and show vulnerability because this will inspire others to take action and open up that dialogue. 

Talk with your manager, a co-worker, a mentor, or somebody else that you trust in the company, and just be transparent. If other people see that you’re comfortable letting it out, they might be comfortable letting it out as well. 

When these things are no longer bottled up, we can get a sense of how widespread the issue might be and think of ways to solve it. 

Have an honest conversation with your manager

On a similar note, find some time to talk to your manager if you haven’t already. A great leader will always listen without judgment and will offer to find ways to solve the problem.

Letting them in on how things are going can go a long way toward finding real solutions.

Set goals

Burnout can sometimes feel like you’re treading water and never getting anything accomplished. Making goals that you can stick to and tick off your list gives you an enormous sense of accomplishment, which could be just the kickstart you need. 

By checking things off, you get the ball rolling and can start building momentum. 

Make a list of what you can and can’t control

Sometimes, when you’re busy or overwhelmed, it’s hard to see through the noise. In times like these, it can be really helpful to write it all down. Take a piece of paper and just write down whatever’s in your head. Think of it as a journaling exercise. 

A good time to do this is before bed because you can clear your head and get a more restful sleep. Other times, you might need to take a ten-minute break in the middle of the day to just write everything bouncing around your head. 

Once you’ve done that, come back to what you’ve written and make a list of things you can control and things you can’t control. 

Ask yourself, what about this issue can I control and change? What can’t I control or change? Once you realize what you absolutely can’t control, it’s almost like your brain gives you permission to let it go. 

Prioritize education

In the modern world, we’re so lucky to have masses of content online to learn from. There’s so much information out there to educate yourself with the tools and techniques needed to ease burnout.

If you’re not already using those tools, approach your organization and make a case for using these resources in the wider workplace. 

When it comes to stress management, it’s just as vital to your employees’ health, wellbeing, and success as regular day-to-day training is. If you can find a way to integrate training and learning resources on burnout and mental health tips, you can improve mental wellbeing across the organization.

Remember that you’re not alone

Lastly, it’s important to remember that everyone experiences burnout at some time in their lives. The burnout conversation perhaps should have come around sooner, but now that more organizations are seriously talking about it, it’s a great thing all-around.

No matter the type of business, all workplaces experience the effects of employee burnout. Feeling exhausted, drained, and unproductive isn’t good for anyone. But with clear guidance from management and an open environment to talk, you can help employees manage their own burnout symptoms and get the help they need.

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