In October, aSweatLife wrote about how to avoid burnout at work. We outlined research proving that women — especially millennials — are burning out at work faster than ever, often before the age of 30. Burnout, in fact, is not just tiring, it can also come with serious physical and mental side effects. Physical burnout symptoms include frequent headaches, lowered immunity and a change in appetite, while emotional and behavioral signs include a loss of motivation, a sense of detachment and frequent procrastination.
Our previous article equipped readers with a few tips for avoiding office burnout, such as leaving the office at a set time, being honest about your hours with coworkers and taking a break from your job. But what if you can’t escape the office, adjust your work hours or take a vacation? Incorporating fitness and other wellness initiatives into your daily life can have a big impact on your overall stress levels.
Here are five ways to better incorporate wellness tactics into your life and steer clear of burnout.
To find motivation amidst the stressors of daily life, consider hitting the gym. WebMD claims exercising can boost your self-esteem and help ward off feelings of anxiety. But actually making it to the gym is easier said than done. When I’m feeling exhausted and overworked, the last thing I want to do is lift weights or go for a run. However, once I force myself to get up and get moving, my mood gets better and my head clears.
2. Work out with friends.
Paula Davis-Laack wrote in Psychology Today that the more she burned out, “the more [she] just wanted to hole up in [her] office and avoid people.” But she says that “was exactly the opposite of what [she] should have been doing.” If you’re lacking the motivation to work out, find a few friends to exercise with you. Try a new group class or just make time to work out together. Although it’s hard to be social when you’re feeling burned out, meeting with other people (and working out, too!) can improve your frame of mind. And at aSweatLife, we couldn’t agree more that everything is better with friends. It’s the premise of everything we do at #Sweatworking – especially #SweatworkingWeek – coming up in January.
3. Take a walk.
You want to work out. You’d even be up for working out with a couple pals. But your schedule just doesn’t allow it. How can you still squeeze in some time for exercise? Go for a walk around the block. Whether after work or during your lunch break at the office, walking can be a satisfactory alternative to pushing through a high-intensity workout. Harvard Business Review and Take the Interview both advocate for walking to avoid burnout. “It doesn’t have to be long,” according to Take the Interview. “Consider walking to the post office to mail a letter or grabbing your favorite cup of coffee at a local coffee shop.”
4. Eat healthier.
Guess what types of food sound delicious when I’m feeling exhausted? That’s right — chocolate, cake, pizza and beer. But those are exactly the types of foods I shouldn’t be eating when I’m feeling burned out. Instead, it’s recommended that you minimize your sugar intake, avoid refined carbohydrates and only drink alcohol in moderation. Stick to Omega-3 fatty acids like fish and walnuts and be sure to get the proper doses of fruits and veggies. So when you’re burned out at the end of a long week, think twice before reaching for that cold one.
While a good night’s sleep won’t cure your burnout, it can certainly help you feel better. And not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep that the National Sleep Foundation recommends will only further harm your feelings of overexertion. Martha Beck wrote about the significance of rest in a CNN article: “Because I’ve been all the way to burnout, I’ve become vigilant about getting enough sleep — and I started when I was unemployed and in debt.” Be sure to get the right amount of zzz’s each night — your body will thank you.