Burnout. The great enemy of productivity. We’ve all known, or come close to knowing the effects of burnout, but what we often don’t recognise is when we’re on the way to it! Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. This stress doesn’t always have to be at it’s peak for us to experience burnout but often the consistency of said stress is what leads to this burnout. It results in feelings of fatigue, regular headaches and a lack of interest in things or activities you would normally be interested in. Combatting burnout is a long road, however there are steps that can be taken to support a return to normality. Here at FIND, we have quarterly Wellness Days which our team can use to help combat this stress, and to deflate on their own terms. We’ve found this successful and welcomed by all members of the team, but we also have a number of tips to help you avoid burnout and make the most of a mental wellness day!
Mental Wellness Days are not something to scoff at, and are incredibly effective. Rather than dealing with the stigma of calling in sick to take a mental health day, your team and yourself can benefit from being able to take a no-questions-asked day off to deal with whatever you want. Too common is it in the modern world for individuals to work themselves into the ground, and save their sick days for “when I really need them”. As of 24 July 2021, the New Zealand law will grant all employees 10 days of sick leave which is a great step forwards in terms of wellness.
Tip One: Plan your next holiday
This one always tends to bring out a few naysayers, especially given the remaining prevalence of COVID worldwide. However, the benefits of a holiday cannot be understated. Holidays afford us the opportunity to properly switch off, away from everything that is stress bearing. The change in environment and exposure to different locations, helps to mentally reset our tired psyche. A good recommendation is to have a holiday booked every 3 to 6 months where you can, as it triggers multiple levels of mental wellness. Firstly, having something to look forward to, triggers our anticipation reflex, and in looking forward to something, we often find ourselves excited for what lies ahead. Secondly, new experiences allow us to create new memories, and this helps in reducing stress and anxiety. Thirdly, who doesn’t just love a holiday? Although the world is a bit funny at present, a jaunt around Aotearoa is not something to dismiss. It is well worth your time to explore what we have in our own backyards!
Tip Two: Bring exercise to the forefront
It’s ironic that given how good exercise is for our mental AND physical health, most individuals view it as a hassle. Getting exercise into your everyday schedule is essential for helping blood flow, for increasing oxygen flow to the brain and for promoting healthy habits. Studies have shown that by just exercising for 21 minutes per day, and working up a sweat, you’ll experience a more rewarding and fuller life. Modern workplaces afford us the opportunity to work more flexibly and variably than ever before. Now, we can take our meetings to the streets and walk while we talk, or work remotely so we can focus on ourselves. Lacing exercise into this regime is extremely available, and a great option.
For the month of June 2021, our team are participating in Sweat for Pride, which challenges us to exercise for 21 minutes each day and fundraise. You can get on board with us or donate to back us here: https://sweatwithpride.com/t/findrecruitment
Tip Three: Consider your priorities
Often our stress comes of a lack of clarity around what we’re doing. Between having so much on at work, a pile of washing at home, a need to catch up with people, to sort healthy food for the week, to finding downtime, to self-education, etc etc etc. it all just piles up and becomes too much to manage. In reviewing your priorities and laying down what needs to be done when, you can redirect a lot of your wasted energy. If you’re like me, then you’ll find that having a “Top 3” for the busiest parts of life can be extremely useful. Identifying that your Top 3 priorities for the day might be Facetiming a family member, reading a book and going for a walk, helps you put perspective on when things need to be done. This has the double whammy of giving you the sense of achievement at the end of the day, as you’ll successfully fulfilled your daily goals.
Tip Four: Switch off outside of work
Even the best of us can be guilty of forgetting this one. Often when there’s a lot going on at work, you want to ensure you’re always in the know so that you can’t be caught unawares. However, this constant on-time means that our home-time operates like faux-work-hours. Rather than spending our evenings enjoying ourselves and distressing, we instead find ourselves caught up in emails, in wondering how tomorrow’s presentation will go, or in mentally preparing our workload for tomorrow. Try instead putting your work phone away at the end of the day, and using devices that aren’t synced up to your work network. If something urgent does happen, then you’ll find out easy enough, but 9 times out of 10, you’ll be able to safely switch off and enjoy your evening. This will go a long way towards helping you feel more fulfilled both in and out of work!
Tip Five: Make time for the things you love
Whilst also relating to your relatives and friends, finding time for the activities you love is equally important. There are many terms for the mental blocks we experience which inhibit our ability to perform our favourite activities. Motivation is an urge to behave or act in a way that will satisfy certain conditions, such as desires or goals. Psychologists believe that motivation is rooted in a basic impulse to optimise well-being, minimise physical pain, and maximise pleasure output. In this sense, motivation can be manipulated similar to our other emotions and states of mind. Often we will rule out doing something as we lack to motivation, however in finding the time to do these things we love, we can generate this motivation also. Start small. Start by simply changing into your gym gear, and feel as the motivation grows. The “I can’t be bothered” becomes, “I’m already changed so I may as well” and this can be applied to other fields of life also.