How To Prevent Work Burnout
Every working mom I know has experienced some level of work burnout.
Simply put, work burnout is the mind and body's reaction to prolonged stress. Burnout leaves you feeling exhausted and depleted–or as I like to put it–with an empty basket and no more effs to give.
But here's the thing–burnout goes so much deeper than the stress of long work hours.
I was completely surprised to find that after I removed myself from the corporate work environment and began setting my own hours while working from home, I still experienced job burnout.
I truly thought that once I was my own boss, burnout would be less of an issue.
It was eye-opening to realize that the isolation of working from home without any sort of social support was a trigger for my burnout. Not to mention that the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur exposed me to various levels of stress that were simply uncharted territory for me.
For others, not feeling valued in your work, not feeling like your work has any meaning, and even a toxic workplace can lead to burnout.
I also believe that society has forced us to adopt a workhorse culture which leads to burnout.
The workhorse culture has been so deeply embedded in our psyche that it makes it all too easy for us ignore the signs of burnout. We just keep pushing ourselves (or allowing our employers to push us) to do more and more each day. Eventually, we run out of gas–aka burnout happens.
Here's an idea: What if instead instead of allowing ourselves to get to empty, we take the time to refuel our tanks midway?
Related Article: 3 Useful Tips to Balance Motherhood and Blogging
Once you have a better understanding of burnout and how dangerous it can be to your mental health, you can take intentional steps to keep things in check.
Here are some tips and ideas to help you understand what signs to look out for and how to prevent burnout.
4 Tips to Avoid Burnout
Know Your Breaking Point (Before You Get There)
This is a crucial step in learning how to prevent burnout. For me, I now recognize that my body gives me clues when I am coming close to crossing a stress threshold.
I start feeling really tense in my neck and shoulders, and it seems like I can feel the anxiety building in my chest. I also become extremely irritated and even the smallest things going wrong will put me into a frenzy.
Knowing that these things signal a breaking point can help me to take a step back before I go off the deep end.
Schedule Free Time
I once worked an office job where nearly everyone took a “working lunch”, eating in their offices while continuing on with their work tasks. Only myself and one other team member regularly left the building for our lunch break. Great group of people, mind-boggling work culture!
Working nonstop without taking any sort of mental breaks is simply not healthy. Try sprinkling a couple of scheduled breaks throughout your workday. It can be something as simple as a 15-minute break every two hours.
Better yet, if you can swing it, schedule a nap. My family will tell you I am the queen of power naps. My brain just feels better after a 45 minute nap.
The point of it all is to spend time intentionally clearing your mind and allowing yourself to recharge.
Make Regular Exercise a Priority
Over the years, work + motherhood has not left me with much energy at the end of the day to devote to exercise. However, I absolutely recognize that when I do exercise it GIVES ME A BOOST OF ENERGY that helps me to better cope with stress.
Now, I have planned exercise twice per week. Making it a part of my normal weekly schedule is helping me to build better habits.
Schedule a Weekend Getaway
Taking vacation time allows you to strike a balance between your work life and your personal life.
No, I'm not just talking about taking a week long vacation to a tropical destination once per year. While that may help in the short term, it's not going to be enough prevent burnout in the long term.
How about scheduling a mini getaway every 6-8 weeks or maybe quarterly? You can take an extended weekend to a nearby lake/the mountains/a beach or even just a stay-cation at a nearby B&B.
Think of it as a series of planned breaks that you can look forward to a couple of times a year.
4 Signs of Burnout from Work
Knowing the telltale signs and symptoms of burnout will help you to lower your risk of burnout. Here's what to look for:
When you experience burnout, exhaustion is one of the first signs that you feel. This exhaustion can manifest both physically and emotionally. Physical symptoms like pain in your chest or stomach and headaches are very common. The emotional exhaustion leaves you feeling like a zombie and completely drained of all energy.
As your stress builds and you get closer and closer to the brink of burnout, you may notice that even if you are normally a positive person, your thoughts grow more and more cynical. Your attitude towards your job and your co-workers becomes more negative. You start having a hard time seeing the bright side of things.
I'm a true believer in the power of your mindset. So when your mindset starts to take a dip, so does everything else!
Decrease in Creativity
As a creative entrepreneur, one of the effects of burnout that I personally experienced is a drastic reduction in creativity. I start having problems concentrating and this idea-generating mind of mine comes to a complete halt.
Decrease in Performance and Productivity
When you are struggling with burnout, your level of performance and productivity may drop drastically. On a mental level, you're just “over it”. Maybe you were normally the type of person who goes above and beyond with everything you do, but suddenly you just don't care.
Your lack of energy, motivation, and creativity lead you to put much less effort into your work and your performance suffers.
While it can be hard to accept that what you are experiencing is burnout, I hope that the information you read above can help you to better recognize the signs and be able to take action.
Ignoring the problems and trying to continue with business as usual will not help you to beat burnout. In fact, it will exacerbate the problem.
Maybe implementing some of the tips above is just what you need to avoid burnout. Speaking to a therapist is an even better option that may be right for your unique circumstances.
Whatever the case may be, you have to take control of your situation. Your health and your happiness should be a priority. Don't let burnout steal that from you.
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