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Tips for Young Professionals Dealing with Burnout
Burnout isn’t merely being bored with work. The World Health Organization has officially classified burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Yes, you can officially be diagnosed with burnout syndrome.
The good news is that there are many ways to begin to manage the issue of burnout, and they don’t have to involve costly, time-consuming trips to the doctors for a diagnosis. If you feel burned out by your work, school, or life in general, here are several pro tips to consider to regain a work-life balance and help restore some normalcy to your mind, body, and soul.
Prepare for Work During Leisure
No, that doesn’t mean you should actually be working during your time off. On the contrary, it’s important to maintain a firm distinction between your work and your personal life (as the next step outlines in detail).
However, it can be helpful to tailor your leisure time to focus on things that subtly support and bolster your work performance. For example, exercising creativity through writing and reading, or the simple act of exercising can be excellent ways to keep yourself recharged and ready to go on a regular basis.
Define Work and Personal Life
In an era where remote work is increasingly more common, it’s critical that professionals practice strict discipline in the oft-underappreciated art of striking a good work-life balance.
If you find yourself constantly checking your phone for emails, taking calls in the middle of personal time, or working around the clock, chances are you’re not separating yourself from work properly.
On the other hand, if you work from home and there is no time of the day that is specifically set aside to get your work done, it can have the opposite effect. If you find that distractions are too hard to avoid in your home, consider finding a coffee shop where the hum and buzz — along with a cuppa by your elbow — can help stimulate your creativity and allow you to focus.
Either way, it’s important to create structure as it will avoid a “continually working” mindset, which can severely exacerbate burnout symptoms.
Don’t Be Formulaic
It’s easy to feel that there’s only one way to do something.
There’s only one way to work your job, a preset way to use your free time, or only one option to take care of the myriad responsibilities that seem to always be on the verge of taking you down. But the truth is, you don’t have to be formulaic about how you approach your life.
Just because a co-worker or boss works 60 hours a week, or has a specific system for a task, doesn’t mean that’s the only way you can get the same work done. If a system or method doesn’t work for you, try to search for creative alternatives that lend themselves to your strengths.
In other words, don’t let preconceived notions further increase your stress. Trying to live in a way that has been prescribed by others is a fool’s errand. Instead, take stock of your situation, prioritize your responsibilities and needs, and then create your own personal definition of how your balanced life should look. When this is done confidently and responsibly, the results can be both empowering and invigorating.
Keep That “Big Picture” Mindset
While we’re on the subject of not allowing your schedule and lifestyle to be defined by others, another important aspect to managing burnout includes avoiding a career that is, yet again, defined by the thoughts, actions, and expectations of those around you.
Particularly while you’re in the early stages of your professional journey, it’s important to fight the feeling of pressure that can often arise to pursue the career option with the “biggest payout.” While the monetary rewards may be well documented, careers of this nature can often put you under increasing amounts of stress for the long term as well.
Doctors, for example, may lead exemplary professional lives, but they’re also under incredible amounts of pressure. They’re expected to work long shifts which can create opportunities to make sleep-deprived errors that can have both career- and life-threatening results. The point? Make sure you fully understand the stakes of a high-pressure career before choosing it.
Take the Big Step
If you’re not tethered to a specific geographic area, one way to help manage burnout is simply taking a job in another city.
Sometimes creating a little bit of distance between yourself and a toxic workplace can be just what the doctor ordered to help restore some tranquility.
One suggestion is to look for a place that has a lower cost of living. For example, if you’re leaving your toxic office in the Big Apple, it would be inadvisable to take a position in Silicon Valley if you’re looking for a real change. Instead, look for a place like Virginia, with a low cost of living and plenty of businesses and opportunities in order to still pursue a professional career.
Keep an Attitude of Gratitude
The idea of appreciating what you have invades all aspects of life.
From college through parenthood, from family life to the workplace, cultivating a grateful attitude can be one of the best ways to manage burnout without having to change anything but your mindset.
Money isn’t the only reason to work — even if it feels that way sometimes. Purposefully exploring reasons to be happy with where you are, to count your blessings, and to see the silver lining in every situation are all tremendous tools to keep by your side as you navigate the stresses and pressures of the workplace.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Understand and Manage Stress in Your Life
Learn more about the nature of stress and how you can effectively cope with stress at work, at home and in life generally. The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management eBook covers all you need to know to help you through those stressful times and become more resilient.
There are plenty of ways to manage professional burnout. Some are simple, like cultivating a positive attitude or creating a healthy work-life balance. Others are more extreme, like packing up and moving to an entirely new location. One way or another, though, the important thing is to resist the temptation to accept burnout as “the normal state of things.” Instead, be encouraged to rise to the challenge and find a way to manage your stress.
Your workplace is highly unlikely to change in order to accommodate your own burnout struggles. However, taking the reins yourself and learning how to deal with burnout is a critical role to learn early on if you want your professional career to thrive for the long term.
About the Author
Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book. Chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.