Burnout has hit record levels over the past two years. Forty-four percent of workers surveyed said that they had experienced a lot of stress during the previous workday.
A chronic imbalance between your job demands and your job resources drives burnout. People with burnout complain that they have to do 6-weeks work in 3-weeks, that they work until late at night or can’t stop thinking about work when they sleep or in the shower.
It’s often correlated with anxiety and depression and predicts other mental health challenges. For example, those who feel tense or stressed out during the workday are more than three times as likely to seek employment elsewhere.
The challenge to reduce burnout or tackle it before it gets worse is that when you most need to recover, you’re least likely to engage in recovery activities because you are already overwhelmed and in a vicious cycle that doesn’t allow you to change your behaviors or ask for help.
While one of the main drivers for burnout is a toxic culture, where an employee feels not valued and psychologically unsafe, it is essential to learn what increases your odds of having burnout symptoms and practice recovery before you need it.
The following strategies for recovery during the holidays will help you detach psychologically from work. As a result, you can sustain your energy and performance for more extended periods without impacting your health.
1) Shape your environment for optimal recovery.
Keep your space free of distractions. Remove work-related stuff from your sight during your free time. Your mind will focus on what is available, so if you want to relax, close the door to your home office, travel somewhere even if it is one hour away, or walk in nature. Staying outside in the sun or spending more time in rooms with good natural light can help recharge.
2) Learn which triggers prevent you from psychologically detaching from work.
If that includes your phone or computer, then go for it. For example, turn off notifications temporarily or do not take the work phone with you everywhere.
3) Choose to replace work with an activity that you enjoy.
Reading, running, or cooking, that allows you to focus entirely or stay in flow and mentally disconnect your thoughts of work. If you are doing an activity, you don’t genuinely enjoy just to share with someone, you may not feel wholly involved and go back to thinking about work. Try to choose something special for you intentionally.
4) Choose high-effort recovery activities.
While it may seem that relaxing, watching TV, or other “passive” or “low-effort” activities are best for recovery, on the contrary, research shows that more active activities can be even more effective for recovery. Pursuing a hobby that requires effort or mastery, like learning a new language or skill, helps you stay in flow for more prolonged, replenish depleted resources, and have an optimal experience outside work. It is also a good reminder that work is not the only way to have some fun.
5) Take some time to rest.
Put sleep, health, and exercise at the top of your list
While they may not seem like they are top priority, nothing will get done if you are sick or exhausted. These three things are essential in keeping you healthy. They deserve attention.
6) Learn some practices for intentional recovery
Learn a system to reset. Meditation or mindfulness are activities that you can also use back at work. It takes time to get used to and enjoy them, so in the middle of a stressful time, you probably won’t be able to start any of them. But having several days off may be the perfect time to initiate a new practice. Then it will be easier to continue doing it 10 minutes a day during your workday.
Effectively recovering from periods of stress positively impacts your emotions, moods, energy, performance, and relationships. So don’t think of it as a waste of time but as a long-term investment in you.
There is time available for you to reset this holiday season. It’s up to you to do it and come back fresh for 2023!