Here’s how to work at keeping it at bay.

1. Write your own health plan

No one knows you better than you. So, you should write your own self-help guide, Read says. And stick to it.

“I need to walk my dogs, do Pilates and do a short meditation every day. I know what small and large things I need. And if I don’t get them it contributes to an increased risk of burnout.”

2. Find moments of joy and play every day

It’s true what they say about all work and no play. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or a rock star,” Read says. “Playfulness is important for all humans.

“So when your head hits the pillow every night, and you say, ‘What was something playful that I did today?’, if you can’t come up with anything, you’re probably not helping reduce your chances of burnout.”

3. Sleep well

“Use your bedroom for sleep and sex,” Read says. “Not for work. Not for screen entertainment. Your body really does learn that this is the place for these things.”

Avid readers will be pleased to know it’s also OK to take a book to bed. But only a real book; not a Kindle. “The light of a screen triggers the part of the brain that says it’s daytime,” Read says.

Keep your bedroom as a work-free zone.

4. Breathe

Factoring in moments of stillness every day can really boost your chances of beating burnout, Read says.

“Stillness is about surrendering to your breath. When we breathe fast, the body interprets that as running from something. When we slow our breath, the body believes there’s nothing to fear.”

Read recommends slow breathing for three minutes, three times a day. Try square breathing. It comes in four parts (like the sides of a square): breathe in slowly for three seconds; hold for three seconds; breathe out slowly for three seconds, hold for three seconds.

Don’t worry if thoughts are rattling through your brain. Just breathe.

5. Ask for help

If you’re being overworked, talk to your boss. And be clear in how you communicate with them, Read says.

“Ask for help without apologising. There’s no need to say, ‘I’m sorry to bother you’. Instead, say, ‘My workload is full this week and I need a break’. Or, ‘I have too much on and I can’t make this deadline’.”

If your manager won’t help, you may have to go to HR, an employee assistance program, or another manager or colleague. But Read says that in her experience, “most managers want to support their people”.

You might also consider seeing a psychologist or counsellor, Read says. “I don’t know one person who wouldn’t benefit from sitting in a therapeutic space to just unpack what they’re dealing with.”

For more advice and tips on bringing your best self to work, visit SEEK Career Advice.

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