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Avoiding Burnout in the Workplace in 6 Easy Steps

For those of you finding it hard to switch off at the end of a working day, we hear you!
It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life, constant demands, and a heavy
workload that can slowly but surely build to a point of overwhelm, neglect of the self and
ultimately- burnout.

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For those of you feeling consistently tense, unable to relax, with stress levels ratcheting up, this
article is for you.

As we head into the festive period, let’s slow things down a notch and take a look at what
exactly burnout is, and then navigate our way through some clear steps to help prevent this
from happening to you.

So, what exactly does it mean to be experiencing burnout?

Burnout is when we are feeling frayed around the edges- when our ability to contain and
regulate our emotions seems to have lessened, meaning that the slightest comment, situation,
or email can set us off in floods of tears, heightened feelings of anxiety, and a general feeling of
tension and unease in our bodies.

Over time, this ongoing feeling of stress in the body can have an adverse effect, suppressing the
immune system’s ability to fight off a developing cold or virus. You may notice that you are
coming down with more colds during a particularly stressful period.

You may also notice ‘psychosomatic’ illnesses, which are physical symptoms (i.e. a migraine,
fatigue, hypertension, gastrointestinal disturbances) that are influenced by psychological issues
(i.e. stress or anxiety).

NB: If you have already reached this point, then seeking some professional help to give you some support is an important step right now.

Ultimately, burnout is when we haven’t stopped to ask ourselves what we need, and when we
can no longer find the off switch or take a break. Sound familiar?

If this is something you have been going through, then it might be time to hit the pause button
and reset. I hope these words can be a comfort and, even in some small way, help you to feel
held and supported.

So, grab a herbie tea, and let’s get into 6 steps towards a greater state of ease.

If you like this article, why not check out this Managing Your Mental Health?

Boundaries

Number 1 on the list when it comes to burnout is a reassessment of our boundaries. Are we allowing ourselves to take on too much? Are we able to say no? Your time and energy are precious, no matter what your role is at work. Our ability to be able to say ‘no’ and to navigate where we draw the line on how much we are taking on is essential. Over the next week, see if you can bring your attention to how much you are taking on day to day, and then explore where there is room to pull back when you are noticing that you have reached your capacity. In which small ways can you put your needs first and not overload
yourself?

Taking a much-needed break throughout the day and ensuring you step away, nourish yourself
and take a breather, will allow you the crucial time needed to refresh yourself and to calm any
feelings of stress building.

Connect

Choose somebody that you can confide in and express how you feel. Who comes to
mind? Whether you are typing out how you feel in a piece of writing to read aloud to a loved
one, having a check in meeting with a manager or colleague, or chatting to a friend over coffee.
The act of voicing how you feel, of sharing the load and receiving support from others, can do
wonders. To acknowledge that we don’t have to always take on everything by ourselves, and
that being part of a community, a team, a connection with another can positively impact our
mental wellbeing is vital, we are social creatures and need each other to co-regulate.

Wellbeing in the workplace should be taken seriously, so, if you work for a company, find out
what your workplace has on offer in terms of support.

Breathing exercise

Sounds simple right? and we obviously breathe all the time. But have you tried, at regular intervals in your day, to settle down into your seat, to slow down into the quiet of a moment with yourself, connect to your body and the space around you, and focus in on your breathing?

First things first, slowly place your two feet on the floor.

Second, notice and feel the weight of your body sitting into the chair and then, finally, turn your attention onto the breath.

Breathe in, slowly, for 3, 2, 1, and then out for 3, 2, 1…with every out breath, letting go of a little bit more tension in your body, with every in breath, feeling a little more at ease.

As Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hann once said,

‘Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.’

Take a walk outside

Experiencing a shift in your environment by taking a walk, accompanied by some fresh air, and particularly being around some nature in a local park, can create the right amount of distance from a work task that has been occupying your attention.

As you move along at your own pace, start by noticing. Notice how it feels to show up for yourself on the walk, to experience the feeling of the cold air on your face, to bring curiosity to the shape and colour of the autumnal hues of the trees.

Check in with yourself and acknowledge what you are carrying today. By going for a walk and taking a break, you are giving a clear signal to yourself and saying, ‘hey, I notice you, I value you, and I see you need a break. My focused attention is here, right now.’

Movement

Get those endorphins flowing!! We all know the drill, it is repeated again and again, exercise helps to blow out the cobwebs and boost the mood. You might already love getting some exercise in but sometimes the thought of doing exercise when feeling bogged down with a busy day can seem like one step too far, and if so, never fear! Step 6 is to rest.

But, first things first, a little movement can go a long way. Sometimes we need to notice any thoughts and feelings of apprehension before-hand, acknowledge this, and then trust the process.

We can’t think our way to how it might feel after some movement, we need to action and experience it first-hand. So, whether you have a gym membership, whether you enjoy a jog to the park, a gentle yoga flow on the mat in your bedroom, a dance class, or a swim at the local pool, give yourself a chance to see how it feels before and after. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Rest

Last but definitely not least, the final step in this article is to rest. Along with a period of burnout out usually comes a feeling of exhaustion and a tension in the body. Resting might be harder to do than it seems if your mind feels as if it is either frazzled, or, going at 100 miles an hour. Therefore, ease yourself in. Just how it might take a few days to slow down and relax into a holiday, treat resting the same way, give yourself time to adjust to the restful pace.

Consider which activities have helped you to unwind before. Perhaps running a hot bath, with
the comforting aroma of bubbles and lighting of some candles, reading a book and then
prepping some dinner can slowly loosen the cogs and signal to your body that it is safe to settle
into rest mode. We each have our own way of doing things, so let this restful routine come
from you.

From all of us here at Team Nonchalant, we hope that you’re able to wind down as we head
into December and enjoy the festive period. Take care.

If you want to read up on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, read up with this book.

Last Updated on 13th December 2023 by Nonchalant Magazine

Stephanie Murray
Stephanie Murray

Stephanie (MBACP) is an integrative psychotherapist based in London. Stephanie has worked for the past few years both in her private practice and for further educational institutions in a therapeutic capacity. She enjoys a daily meditation practice, along with yoga and writing.

Find me on: Web | Instagram

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