Even if you enjoy your job, you may experience burnout from time to time. Perhaps you’ve just completed a large project and are struggling to find enthusiasm for the next one. It’s possible that your home life is draining you more than normal. Perhaps you’re simply bored.
Well whatever it is, below we’re going to discuss some of the most effective ways to rejuvenate , re-energise and recharge.
What the Experts Say:
Burnout, aka the epidemic of the modern workplace, is the mental and physical exhaustion you experience when the demands of your work consistently exceed the amount of energy you have available. Ron Friedman, the founder of Ignite80 and the author of the book, The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace says that, “In large part, it’s because we’re surrounded by devices that are designed to grab our attention and make everything feel urgent.”
Feeling like we constantly need to be available via our devices can lead us to feel lethargic, stressed and depleted. So Physiologist Heidi Grant describes it as “needing to find ways to put gas back in our tank”
We have outlined a few ideas on how to do just that, below:
Take Strategic Breaks:
Burnout often stems from a lack of understanding around what it takes to achieve peak performance at work. We tend to assume that in order to achieve our desired results we need to try the hardest and work the longest, which of course will in all likelihood get you short-term results but this method is definitely physiologically unsustainable.
So we need to reprogram our thinking and understand that in order to continually perform at our best we must develop a sustainable way of working that includes opportunities to recharge our mental energy.
This can be as simple as stepping away from your computer for a short period of time during the workday. We all have our lunch breaks but I don’t know about you, but when I work from home I find that I often end up eating my lunch at my desk without properly stepping away from my screen.
The best advice is to properly set time aside throughout the day for a walk or grab lunch in a local coffee shop, anything to break your focus for a short period of time and clear your mind.
“Stepping away from your computer gets you out of the weeds and prompts you to reexamine the big picture. It’s often in the intervals between thinking really hard about a problem and then stepping away that solutions become apparent.” says Friedman.
Another great piece of advice is to take your breaks strategically. For example, for most of us, our energy is at it’s highest in the morning so this is the time when you should focus on tackling your toughest challenges to maximise your productivity and once your energy starts to deplete in the afternoon that’s when you should step away to reconfigure.
Put Away Your Digital Devices:
Most of us can’t remember a time when it was possible to truly leave your work life at the office. Thanks to the digital era we can carry around an office in our pocket in the form of our smartphone. Meaning we are both psychologically and physiologically still attached to work. We’ve already discussed how this can lead to feelings of depletion.
So the remedy is to actively limit your use of digital devices after hours. Psychologists suggest placing your phone in a drawer when you arrive home so you’re not tempted to pick it up or check your email but I know this sounds just about impossible to most of us.
So instead, I challenge you to try placing your phone on charge in a separate room at night so it isn’t the first and last thing you see every day. Try it for a week and see if you feel any better for it.
Do Something Interesting:
Instead of focusing on restricting or avoiding work during your off-hours, try scheduling “restorative experiences that you look forward to.” For example, you could make plans to go to a fitness class with a friend or cook a meal with your spouse, anything that forces you to concentrate on an approach goal — doing something enjoyable — rather than an avoidance goal — not checking email.
Research shows that approach goals are easier and more enjoyable to achieve, even if they are taxing they are better for clearing your mind than simply relaxing. “What you do with your free time is important,” Halvorson explains. While it’s tempting to curl up on the couch with a tub of popcorn and a Netflix binge, she suggests doing something more demanding, “It will offer you more energy, even if it is challenging.”
Take Long Weekends:
The most obvious solution to burnout is simply to take some time off. This doesn’t mean you need to take an entire week or two out of your work because when it comes to stress-reduction you get a much greater benefit from taking regular three and four day weekends throughout the year instead.
It’s important that you don;t call the office or check your email while you’re away to truly allow yourself to recharge.
Focus on Meaning:
If your job responsibilities mean that you are unable to take immediate time off, we suggest focusing on why the work matters to you. Connect your current project to a larger personal goal, for example, completing this project could help you achieve your next promotion. This will help you keep your momentum and motivation.
However, this is likely to provide only temporary relief and so taking a real break is still ideal.
Make Sure it’s Really Burn-Out
If none of these tactics work for you, you may be dealing with a more serious problem. If you’re tired and listless but still feel effective on the whole then you’re probably dealing with burn-out. However, if you don’t feel like you’re making progress and you feel like you work or anything else matters there may be different mental health problems at play.
If you think this might be the case, remember you are not alone. Be sure to reach out to a family member or friend or contact a professional for further support.
So in summary:
- Reduce your time spent using digital devices
- Incorporate strategic breaks into your workday
- Focus on your why at work
- Take a long weekend
- Make sure it’s really burn-out
- Check your email while you’re taking time off or at weekends
- Spend all your downtime bingeing Netflix, engage in interesting activities instead