5 Strategies for Coping With Burnout and Finding Balance

According to a survey carried out by the American Psychological Association, more than one-third of American workers experience chronic stress as a result of work.

What starts off as a particularly challenging day can swiftly snowball into a stress-laden week or month, and before you know it, you’re heading straight for business burnout.

Slamming on the brakes as soon as you notice the symptoms of burnout at work sometimes just isn’t an option, as many of us feel as responsible for our job roles as we do for our families. This means that hiding out at home and relaxing for a solid seven days as you slowly feel the tension start to dissipate sadly is just a distant dream for many workers.

So, how do you cope with business burnout and start to rebalance your life before it’s too late and you find yourself having a total meltdown in the middle of the office?

Try these five strategies to help keep you balanced, happy and healthy, even during the most challenging periods of your professional career.

1. Recognize the symptoms

The first stage of addressing business burnout is to know the signs and symptoms in yourself and others. Some of the most common signals include frequent feelings of guilt and the thought that you should be working, whenever you are focused on non-work activities. You may also notice an inability to completely focus and concentrate on tasks due to the sense that your mind is overwhelmed with thoughts about your responsibilities and projects.

You may also notice that you’re struggling to sleep without waking in the middle of the night to ping off an email. Your eating might also be affected. On one hand, you might not make time to eat between business meetings. Or, on the other hand, you might overeat in response to the stress of juggling work responsibilities and family obligations.

Many of these signs may be subtle at first and you might perceive them to be just part and parcel of the corporate career that you’ve chosen, but given time to grow unchecked, they can become overwhelming and lead to serious feelings of overwhelm and burnout that could put you out of action for a considerable length of time.

2. Set boundaries (and stick to them!)

For many, the days of the standard 9 ’til 5 are gone. Instead, many of us spend more time working much longer hours than our contracts expect of us in order to climb the career ladder or just to stay on top of our ever-increasing workloads.

With the boundaries between work and free time more blurred than ever before, it’s easy to let work slip into what should be our free time, so it’s vital that you take notice of when this is happening and why.

Perhaps you’ve been tasked with a big project and need a little assistance from a colleague, or someone is off sick and you’ve been asked to pick up the slack – all of these things are commonplace but if you start to realize that they are happening all too frequently, it’s time to draw the line before you begin to feel the impact of business burnout.

Communicating with your manager and colleagues that you need to take a step back to rebalance your work and free time is the best place to start when it comes to drawing up your boundaries. Although you may be able to offer a little extra in terms of time, don’t feel pressured into giving up your life just so this one project is delivered by the deadline.

As you develop new boundaries, you’ll be able to renegotiate your relationships with others. Plus, you might even find that everyone starts to do a better job of pulling their weight once you’ve drawn the line.

3. Prioritize yourself

You are absolutely useless to your company when you’re off sick, so don’t let your mental and physical health slip to such a state that you are unable to get out of bed in the morning. You’d be surprised at just how quickly business burnout can start to set in once the signs start to rear their heads, so make a habit of stepping away from your office at regular intervals and use a few corporate self-care strategies to help you make yourself the number one priority.

Practicing a few moments of mindfulness in the office, eating healthily and taking breaks away from your desk as well as fighting the temptation to check your work emails or cell phone when you’re off duty isn’t shirking your responsibilities, it’s just you prioritizing yourself so that you can continue to be a valued member of staff.

4. Plan for success

Getting organized is key to fighting off business burnout and giving your life balance, so utilize any tools you may have at your disposal to plan your workload and free time. Having a set structure in place can help you to feel in control of even the most challenging of projects, so try and take a few hours out of your working day to start planning important tasks. Communicate with your boss about your workload, and get help setting priorities if you need it. By making sure that expectations are reasonable, you’ll be able to increase your odds for success.

5. Use your support network

Sometimes, we all need a little support both at work and at home. With so many things expected of us on a daily basis, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, so it’s essential that we all reach out to our support networks during busy periods.

Even small tasks such as picking up the kids from school could be potentially by handled by other family members, so don’t be afraid to ask your support network when a few additional helping hands are needed. From a work perspective, giving others the chance to take on a little extra responsibility by delegating is just one of the benefits of being part of a team, so be mindful of looking for opportunities to rely on all of your support networks.

Remember, honestly and communication is key when it comes to fending off business burnout and readdressing that all-important work/life balance. Therefore, guard against being a martyr, and instead, empower yourself to do the things that you need to do so that you can be productive and successful in the long-run.

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Atlanta-based Corporate Psychologist and Life Coach