According to a recent University of Phoenix survey, more than half (55 percent) of employed U.S. adults say they have experienced burnout. Of those who experienced burnout, 68 percent experienced fatigue, 65 percent experienced anxiety and 48 percent experienced depression.
Feelings of burnout can be brought on by a number of things, including a heavy workload, workplace stress, caregiving and competing demands (i.e. from personal/family life). While our culture is slowly understanding the importance of mental wellness in the workplace, we need to take steps to manage our burnout. If we don’t, it not only reduces our productivity, it spills into areas of our lives such as home, social and our physical health.
Here are three key tips to help you start working toward overcoming burnout and achieving work-life balance:
1. Change your viewpoint on stress.
Stress is neither good nor bad, it just is. It is what we make stress mean that becomes good or bad. You get to choose. Often, we stress over a circumstance we cannot change instead of concentrating on thinking or feeling differently about the circumstance. We get to choose our thoughts and feelings. Stress is the most basic kind of resilience. For many of us, stress is a catalyst to jump-start our performance. You give stress meaning, so you need to ask yourself what are you making stress mean in your life? Your thoughts and feelings drive your actions.
Change your perceptions about stress. Even the positive events in your life — like a new job, participating in a sport or taking a vacation — cause a degree of stress. Stress can make you feel alive and engaged in life or even provide a breakthrough on something on which you’ve been stuck. You can use stress as a motivator or recognize it as a warning sign that you need to make a change. By changing your mindset, you can control what stress means and how you react.
2. Maximize your time. Don’t manage it.
Are you overscheduling or overcommitting? Remember that the calendar does not overbook you — you do. Don’t manage your time, maximize it. We should be accountable for our time, just as we are with our money. You get the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else. How are you choosing to spend it? If you are overcommitted and stretched thin, remember, you allowed everything that is on your calendar to be there. Prioritize; the main things taking up your time should be the most important things in your life.
Be mindful of how you are maximizing your time. Most of us think we excel at multi-tasking, but we don’t. Usually, it leads to us being distracted and unfocused, costing us more time. You are better off working on one task at a time. Organize your work around your energy levels. Start your morning with your most critical work or project. Starting the day with a sense of accomplishment makes it easier to move on to the next thing.
3. Manage your energy. It is not a finite resource.
Time is a finite resource, energy is not. Energy can be systemically enhanced and regularly renewed. Most of us spend time on activities that zap our energy. By creating intentional rituals like earlier bedtimes, workout routines and taking lunch breaks at work, we can renew our energy and reduce burnout. Yes, they are simple ideas, but they help you refuel and feel more positive overall.
Schedule fun! With so many things competing for our time, fun doesn’t always schedule itself. Identify your “sweet spot” activities and find ways to do more of the things that bring you joy. Nothing boosts your energy like doing something you really love. For example, if connecting with your family is important, schedule regular sit-down meals. Do you have a passion you always wanted to pursue? Find a group in the community that shares that passion. Make sure you understand your core values and put your energy into those values!
If you are feeling workplace burnout, it is important to address it. Start by using these three tips focusing on your stress mindset, time and energy. Remember, you are aiming for progress, not perfection. It takes practice and focus to learn new rituals. Celebrating your small successes will help you build your confidence. Once you accept that every moment you get to choose how you feel, you will find greater work-life balance
—By Kristen Griffin, vice president of student services at University of Phoenix. In addition to leading a team at the University, the busy executive is a certified health and life coach, fitness enthusiast who teaches yoga, and most importantly, is a single mom raising a teenage boy. Kristen’s role at the University is to ensure working-adult students have the services they need to juggle school and life. She passionately believes that wellness and healthy mindset in students and employees leads to optimal performance in the classroom and workplace.