What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged workplace stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.
The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. This can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu.
Signs of burnout
- Feeling tired and drained most of the time
- Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses
- Frequent headaches or muscle pain
- Change in appetite or sleep habits
- Withdrawing from responsibilities
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
- Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
- Taking out your frustrations on others
- Avoiding work or coming in late and leaving early
- Sense of failure and self-doubt
- Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
- Detachment, feeling alone in the world
- Loss of motivation
- Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
How to avoid burnout
There are many proactive measures that we can take to help avoid burnout. These are often small changes that take little or no time and effort to implement. Try the following tips:
- List the pros and cons.
- Take time off.
- Build positive working relationships.
- Find balance in your life.
- Try to find some value in your work.
- Find new friends.
- Connect with a cause or a community group that is personally meaningful to you.
- Be more sociable with your co-workers.
- Reach out to those closest to you.
We have also put together the following guidance to help you to more effectively manage your workload.
Bring your own device (BYOD)
Having access to these services on your own device will provide many benefits. However, in order to make the best use of BYOD, the following best practice is advised:
Avoid opening the app outside of your working hours
Checking emails and other notifications out of work time can trigger you to think about work, even if you don’t respond. Best practice is to use the app like you would a computer, switching off at the end of the day. This will benefit your wellbeing by keeping a clear line between work and life, improving your sleep and helping you to be fresh and productive for the next day.
Switch off notifications
Linked to the above, turning off your notifications means that you are less likely to click on the icon when not working. If you need to have your notifications on, then switch them off at the end of the day like you would shut down your computer. Even if you don’t open the app, seeing several notifications indicated by the app could cause you to feel pressured.
Avoid sending emails or messages outside of working hours
If you remember something while sat watching TV or out for your walk it can be tempting to just fire off an email or message to get it off your mind. However, this can negatively impact other people, even if you tell them you don’t expect them to respond until work hours.
Best practice is to write it down on a piece of paper and leave with your device for the next working day. This will also prevent you getting into work-based conversations with colleagues outside of work time or getting drawn into other work. If you would prefer to draft the email, save it in drafts or delay the delivery of the email.
Reducing email overload
Email overload can have a negative impact on our wellbeing for example could make you feel like you aren’t doing your job well, through simply not getting through your emails or maybe due to things being missed or done incorrectly. It can also lead you to feel overwhelmed and overloaded, putting you into ‘freeze’ mode (not able to see what to do next). It can also cause frustration from feeling like emails are interfering with certain priorities of your role. Attempting to keep on top of emails can lead to the feeling you need to work outside of flexi hours to feel in control. Lastly, responding to emails quickly can lead to inaccurate information being transferred to the recipient, which in turn can lead to misinterpretation and potentially conflict.
So, what can we do?
The first thing that should be done is a discussion started within a team on emails and wider communication. Ask your manager if they could hold a team meeting on communication with the aim of creating a ‘charter’ or an ‘agreement’ within the team on how best to communicate with each other including when is best to use email, Teams, pick up the phone etc. This will be individual to each team but overall, the agreement should positively focus on:
- Enabling staff to manage their time better
- Discuss what are essential emails, and what needs to be documented
- Discuss who needs to be copied in to emails and when (and why)
- Arranging peer to peer or additional training for those who need IT support or confidence in using the telephone
- Agreeing response time to emails within the team and outside of the team (setting up auto-replies where applicable)
Page updated: 27/10/2021 11:43:41