Tips for Coping with Workplace Burnout

by Rona Berg

By now, we’re all familiar with The Great Resignation, also known as The Big Quit. 

Overwhelmed by work, lack of sleep, health and economic concerns, loss and uncertainty about what lies ahead, people are experiencing fatigue and workplace burnout in record numbers, and leaving their jobs in droves. The extra workload, for those left behind, can lead to their burning out, too. 

According to Dr. Teralyn Sell, psychotherapist and brain health expert, “Burnout is a term that is used to define what happens behaviorally when someone is under chronic stress,” she says. “Burnout can look like an employee who is disengaged, calls in sick, underperforms (after being a good performer) and someone who is basically shut down. It might feel like a sense of numbness, not talking to family or friends, shutting down after work, a foggy brain, lack of energy, depression and anxiety,” she continues. 

“When a person is under chronic stress, cortisol, or stress hormone will begin to blunt. That might feel like difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, or an afternoon slump. When that happens our neurotransmitters will become imbalanced, our hormones may also change and our immune system will be compromised.”

Employers need to prioritize workplace happiness and balance, and help to foster their team’s overall wellbeing, she says. Doing this can help increase productivity and overall workplace satisfaction. 

Here are Dr. Teralyn Sell’s  top tips for coping with workplace burnout. 

TIP #1: Set work boundaries

A fatigued brain might want to work longer because not enough work got done during the day.  Staying late (or working late at night) is a sign that you might be heading to burnout. It is unrealistic to assume that work is the most important thing in your life. Eventually, it will sap your energy, motivation and joy. Putting a hard stop time to your workday is crucial to ending burnout. 

TIP #2: Take breaks and eat

Many people don’t take breaks while they are at work. Taking a break to fuel your brain will actually keep your thinking brain online, it will keep you sharp and energetic. Alternatively, not fueling your brain, taking a break and nourishing yourself with a meal or snack will create a higher level of stress and fatigue. You are likely to get more work done in a shorter amount of time by taking breaks rather than by powering through. 

TIP #3: Get moving 

Research makes it clear that sitting at a desk all day is bad for your physical health as well as your mental health. If you sit for long periods of time, make sure you are able to get up and move on your breaks. Additionally, if you can, opt for a sit-stand desk or even an under-the-desk treadmill or bike pedals. Your productivity will be enhanced when those feel-good chemicals are at work.

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