Money & Career

How to avoid workplace burnout, according to a happiness expert

With burnout on the rise — creating stress, fatigue, and lack of focus — many employers are encouraging employees to take time off to come back to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Although taking time off is important, what happens when you come back to work? Very often we jump right back into the same approach we’ve always taken, and go right back into feeling burnt out and stressed.

Michelle Wax, founder of American Happiness Project and producer of the documentary American Happiness, visited all 50 states to learn how people achieve internal happiness regardless of external circumstance. On her journey, one theme she came across was that  individuals who are feeling fulfilled and happy at work (and across all areas of life) prioritize time throughout the workday to create self awareness, mindfulness, and intention, helping to prevent burn out much more than just taking a couple of days off will.

Here are a few quick ways you can begin to elevate workplace burnout:

Audit Your Current Burn Out State

Self awareness of where you’re at currently is necessary to improve and/or change. Consider taking an audit of your daily workflow/routine to understand what’s contributing to your current level of burnout. A simple way to do this is draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On one side, write down what’s contributing to your feelings of fatigue, stress, etc. On the other, write down what’s alleviating your feelings of fatigue, stress, and any other negative emotion. Then, start to think about how you can limit time/set boundaries with what’s contributing, and how you can incorporate more of what’s alleviating it.

For example, are you working late and it’s interfering with family time? Talk to your manager and discuss options that allow you to prioritize your family. Maybe you’re offline from 5pm-9pm and then hop back on later at night to tie up any loose ends. Flexibility and work/life balance is key in order to alleviate burnout.

Set an Intention at the Start of Each Day

When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself “How do I want to feel at the end of today, and what do I need to do (or not do) to make that a reality?” As you go throughout the day, set an alarm on your calendar every 3 hours to check in with your intention. How are you feeling? Are you aligning with your intention for the day? If not, how can you shift your thought process or tasks to ensure you’ll reach that intention for the day?

Take Time to Breathe

Scheduling time on your calendar to close your eyes and breathe deeply for 1-2 minutes has powerful effects on the mind and body. When you breathe deeply, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system that kicks your body into it’s relaxation and rejuvenation state. This allows your nervous system to calm down from all the stress that’s thrown at us constantly, and help restore focus and energy throughout the day.

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