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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

How to Deal with Feelings of Burnout at Work

How to Deal with Feelings of Burnout at Work

Have you ever faced this scenario? Work is not going well for you. Despite your best efforts over the last few months to complete all your tasks and hit your targets, you realize that you’re not only going to fail on both these counts — but you’ve burned yourself out in the process.

How does this make you feel?

Not great, I would guess.

However, I sympathize, as when I first started working as a software engineer at Red Hat, I thought the secret to success was to work as hard and as much as possible. But I was wrong. This approach simply led me to a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.

So how about you? Are you suffering from work burnout?

Here are a few warning signs that you might be:

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  • Disillusionment about your job
  • Difficulty concentrating on the tasks at hand
  • Abusing food, drugs or alcohol to help you cope with work stress
  • Breakdown of your sleeping habits
  • Lack of motivation (do you have trouble getting started on projects?)
  • Cynical attitude towards your work
  • Irritability or impatience with co-workers and clients

If you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms, I recommend talking to a health professional about your concerns. This is important because, burnout — if not addressed — can lead to health issues such as: anxiety, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Why We Experience Burnout

According to Psychology Today, burnout is more than just the result of working long days and weeks. It’s also to do with how much control over their job a person feels they have.[1] If they feel that they have little control, this can — over time — lead to fatigue, cynicism, depression, and eventually burnout.

Other factors that can lead to burnout include:

  • Working towards a goal that doesn’t resonate with the individual.
  • Lack of support, either in the home of office (or both).
  • Failure to take adequate breaks from work.
  • Unclear job expectations.
  • Extremes of activity (think monotonous or chaotic tasks).
  • Loss of work-life balance.

As I’ve already pointed out, if you allow yourself to burnout, you’ll be faced with a mountain of physical and mental health problems. Which is why it’s so important that you tackle this issue head on.

I’ve coached many people who have suffered from work burnout, and I’ve started to notice some typical risk factors:

  • They try to do everything and please everyone.
  • They have a huge workload.
  • They often work overtime.
  • They work in a helping profession, such as health care or teaching.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these?

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If yes, don’t worry, as I’m about to share with you four techniques that will help you defeat the causes of work burnout.

How to Overcome Burnout

1. Pinpoint Your Purpose

To overcome burnout, having a sense of purpose is extremely important. Whether it’s in a broad way, such as the nature of your career, or finding small purpose in tasks you perform day to day. 

So, do you know your purpose in life 

If not, I suggest you make it a goal to find it (this article will help you out).

Research shows that people who have meaning and purpose in life have higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being, as well as having superior physical and mental health.

2. Reassess Your Options at Work

If you’re experiencing burnout, there may be a specific reason for it.

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For example, are you in a role that doesn’t suit your skills, talents and personality? And, how about the hours you work–are you doing too many?

If these factors (or similar ones) are pushing you to the edge, then it will definitely be worth your time talking to your boss or your HR representative about it. They may be able to offer you some solutions to help reduce the pressure and stress on you.

3. Engage in Self-Care

Here’s a favorite quote of mine by Richard Louv, a quote that I’m sure you’ll find thought-provoking:

“Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract the burnout and sort of depression that we feel when we sit in front of a computer all day.”

Richard hits the nail on the head in this quote, as there’s no doubt that sitting in front of a computer for 35+ hours a week is detrimental to our physical and mental health.

However, spending time in nature is just one way to fight work burnout. The following article lists a whole lot more: 30 Self Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

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I recommend you read the article, adopt some of the ideas, and start moving your life away from burnout.

4. Get Support from a Professional

Whether you seek guidance from a mental health professional or a career counselor, oftentimes having a second (and reliable) opinion can be a key to overcoming and preventing burnout. 

These specialists can help you assess the root of your burnout, as well as giving you strategies and goals to enable you to overcome it.

Final Thoughts

Try not to let a demanding or unrewarding job undermine your health and your confidence. Instead, begin putting into action the tips I’ve shared with you today: 

Finding your life purpose, reassessing your options at work, taking better care of yourself, and seeking the support of a professional.

 Burnout is a serious thing — so start taking serious action to tackle it right now.

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Featured photo credit: Nik MacMillan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Burnout

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on June 8, 2021

What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

We all understand “energy” in the physical sense, and we mostly experience the feeling of having a lot or a lack of physical energy. But physical energy is very different from mental energy. So, what is mental energy?

Mental energy is a mood and a measure of the willingness to undertake cognitive tasks. When you are experiencing an abundance of mental energy, you will feel motivated, efficient, and focused when dealing with tasks. You may feel like you can take on more and have the capacity to throw yourself into a situation without feeling stress or anxiety.

However, unfortunately in the busyness of modern society, you may relate more to the feeling of having a lack of mental energy. Take yourself back to a situation where you are juggling lots of tasks, work is hard, and home life is emotionally exhausting. This is the feeling of a lack of mental energy. You may have felt like being on the verge of burnout, found yourself procrastinating, and had the feeling of just not having the capacity to take on any more emotional or cognitive tasks.

You must deal with a lack of mental energy before it develops into mental exhaustion. Let us take a look at the symptoms of mental exhaustion and the toll that it can take on you as a person and your life.

Signs of Mental Exhaustion

Here are the mental, physical, and behavioral signs of exhaustion.

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Mental Signs

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger

Physical Signs

  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Change in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Increased illness

Behavioral Signs

  • Poor performance at work
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to keep to commitments
  • Increased time off sick at work

The signs of mental exhaustion are less than desirable, and you should reiterate the importance of maintaining your mental energy and do not let it be an afterthought.[1]

How to Maintain a High Level of Mental Energy

The maintenance of mental energy is all in the approach. We can not always control our situation or the number of tasks that we have on at a particular moment in time. However, we can control how we manage and maintain our mental health and mental energy at these times. Just as our physical energy can be maintained through various methods, so can our mental energy.

Now, let us take a look at some of the useful methods that can help us to maintain a high level of mental energy starting from today.

1. Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep may sound like the most obvious method to help maintain a high level of mental energy, however, it is very important.

There are two stages of sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) which is the stage of sleep when you dream, and Non-REM. Non-REM can be divided into three stages, the final stage being deep sleep. The deep sleep stage is where scientists believe that your body renews and repairs itself and also the stage that is most important in terms of energy maintenance.

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There are many ways in which you can create good sleep hygiene. These include having time away from devices before sleep, stopping caffeine intake a few hours before you plan to go to sleep, and going to sleep at the same time each evening.

2. Structure Your Day

Structuring your day can apply to either your home or your work life. The key is to prioritize the important tasks so that if you run out of time, you are safe in the knowledge that these have been completed. If you don’t do this, then you are at risk of overworking yourself, staying at work late, or doing household tasks into the evening.

At home, this may be washing first or tidying the house before you sit down to have a relax. At work, you can write down a list of your tasks for the day and then, list them from the highest priority to the lowest. You can tick off each task as you go along. Any uncompleted tasks can then be transferred to the next day. Furthermore, if you are running out of time, you’ll know in advance and can delegate the priority work to ensure that this is completed on time.

3. Eat Well

Eating well is important for both physical and mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet and certain foods can aid memory, concentration, and focus and thus, helping you maintain mental energy.

Let us take a look at some foods that can do this:

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  • Wholegrains – can improve concentration and focus as it provides a steady supply of energy throughout the day.
  • Blueberries – can boost short-term memory as they contain protective compounds called anthocyanins.
  • Blackcurrants – can reduce anxiety and stress as they contain Vitamin C which is widely thought to increase mental agility.
  • Pumpkin seeds – can enhance memory and boost mood as they are rich in magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which are believed to be important in serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that has a positive impact on mood.

4. Get Some Fresh Air

Going outdoors can have a restorative effect on mental health. You do not have to undertake a ten-mile walk to reap the benefits. Simply being out in the garden, going for a stroll in the countryside, or doing a brisk walk to the shop can have a positive effect on mental energy. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can relieve anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it promotes relaxation and can improve confidence and self-esteem.[2]

5. Take a Break

Taking a break every so often whether at work or when doing any task can maintain a high level of mental energy and focus when needed. A break can involve something as simple as walking away from your computer and changing your environment for a few minutes by going to make a cup of tea to strolling around the block on your lunch rather than staying in the office.

This change of environment takes your mind off the task at hand, rejuvenates, and reenergizes you. Focus can then be maintained and the task at hand can be done to the best of your abilities without mental fatigue.

6. Exercise Your Brain

Challenging your brain does for your mind what exercise does for your body. Physical exercise can stimulate your physical energy just as exercising your brain can stimulate your mental energy.

There are many ways to exercise your brain including:

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  • Brain training exercises can stimulate the mind and also boost intelligence.
  • Learn something new to create new challenges for your brain.
  • Socializing can stimulate multiple areas of the brain. The array of activities involved in socializing engages different areas of the brain with each activity.

7. Meditate

Studies of meditation have shown to have many benefits to the brain. Such benefits include an improvement in brain function and energy levels.

One such study found that practicing meditation for just 25 minutes a day can provide this boost. This is because meditation has been found to release endorphins and increase blood flow to the brain. When meditating, you focus your attention on your breathing and the aim is to eliminate the busyness of the brain and your thoughts. This provides a much-needed rest for your brain thus increasing your mental energy levels.[3]

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, a lack of mental energy is experienced by many and potentially, it is more commonly felt than the feeling of having a high level of energy. Once you spot the signs of a lack of mental energy, it is time to take action before those feelings worsen and develop into mental exhaustion.

However, the good news is that there are basic steps that you can take to maintain a high level of mental energy, and it is just as important as maintaining a high level of physical energy. These steps can be incorporated into your daily life with minimal effort. Eat well, sleep well, get some fresh air, take a break, challenge your brain, structure your day and meditate—it is as simple as that.

More Tips on Boosting Mental Energy

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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Reference

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