Tips on tackling burnout
Recognise the signs before it’s too late.
As a larger part of the labour force in Singapore continues to work from home, it isn’t uncommon for workers to find themselves working longer hours or encountering difficulty in mentally switching off from work.
Even before the pandemic hit, a study by health services company Cigna revealed that one in eight Singaporeans considered their stress levels to be unmanageable. Stress levels are even more pronounced for those working in such detail-oriented and high-intensity jobs as law, banking, and healthcare.
Chronic workplace stress sets up the conditions for burnout – a phenomenon first recognised in the 1970s by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. But what sets burnout apart from conventional fatigue? According to Freudenberger, burnout manifests in a few ways: Extreme exhaustion that surfaces physical ailments such as pain and gastrointestinal problems; an increasing sense of alienation from work-related activities; and reduced performance, where one feels listless or finds it difficult to concentrate on tasks.
Everyone might feel burnt out at times and it’s nothing to be afraid of. If you suspect you’re suffering from burnout, here are some steps you can take now to help you recover from it.
Focus on your breath
Tackling burnout with mindfulness allows us to recognise our thoughts and address them. In the midst of a stressful workday, even a short 10-minute meditation session can help to tap into our parasympathetic nervous system and reduce the stress we’re feeling. Studies have shown that meditation is a powerful tool that can rewire our brains to be more resilient to stress, lower our heart rate, and reduce spikes in stress hormones such as cortisol. To centre yourself and bring yourself back to a mental safe-space, consider scheduling two or three mini-meditation sessions into your workday.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
Sometimes, when we’re trapped in our own mental scripts, we are prone to amplifying negative emotions that make us feel even more helpless in a situation. Talk to your partner or close friends about the stress and anxiety you’re feeling. They might be able to provide alternative viewpoints on the situation. Flipping our perspective on things helps us to take things less personally.
If you’re lucky enough to have a trusted mentor at work, schedule a short meeting with him/her, preferably over coffee outside of the office, so that you can discuss the challenges you’re facing and develop strategies on how to cope with work.
Recognise that it is impossible to clear your to-do list
Thanks to capitalism, globalisation, and advancements in technology, the pace of work has increased exponentially across many industries. More often than not, we find ourselves saddled with a to-do list that keeps growing. However, we only have a finite number of hours in a day. Once you recognise that you’ll never be able to clear all your work, you can begin to make conscious decisions about which tasks you need to prioritise. Even if you’re working remotely, be conscious about the work hours you’ve set yourself and honour your time for rest and play. Remember that sustainability is key here. If you burn out early, you’ll have to spend even more time in recovery mode before you can return to work again.
Engage in a hobby
Nurturing a hobby outside of work gives you a safe space to decompress and distance yourself from work. Think about what you enjoy and can easily access. It can be a regular games night with a trusted group of friends or something as simple as a 20-minute run. Some have found baking (sourdough bread, anyone?) to be therapeutic and a form of moving meditation.
Keeping a regular yoga practice is also a wonderful way to decompress while building strength and flexibility. Starting your day with a Flow class can be incredibly energising and grounding. Conversely, ending the day with a Yin or Kundalini Yoga class is restorative in more ways than one. With more than 30 weekly classes at The Yoga School, we welcome you to join us on the mat.