7 Ways To Feel Better At Work And Avoid Burnout

Fortune Well August 3, 2023


7 Ways To Feel Better At Work And Avoid Burnout

Now that the holidays are over and reality is setting back in, you may be rethinking your relationship with work. Whether you love or loathe your current gig, it always helps to fine-tune how you approach work to avoid burnout. 

A Deloitte survey found that 77% of workers have experienced burnout and 90% of those said that stress had negatively impacted their work. Defined as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” by the World Health Organization, symptoms of burnout include energy depletion or exhaustion, decreased productivity, and increased negative feelings toward work.

Below we round up seven key takeaways to help you work smarter, not harder in 2023:

Develop a game plan to combat Sunday Scaries

It’s been said that a Sunday well spent brings a week of content, but if you hate your job then Sunday can turn into a day full of dread. To help combat the proverbial Sunday Scaries, Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer at LifeStance Health, suggests making a game plan to help ease yourself into the work week, whether that’s investing in quality alone time or prioritizing a mindfulness routine.

“Cooking your favorite dish, meeting a friend for lunch, or spending extra time on your self-care routine at home can all be ways to help replace negative emotions with positive ones,” Patel-Dunn previously told Fortune.


Find ways to unplug

Being constantly plugged in is a one-way ticket to burnout. If you just can’t live without email, consider deleting the app and checking messages using your phone’s web browser instead. That way you don’t receive a ping every time someone is trying to reach out. Better yet, turn off your notifications altogether.

“I used to be a compulsive email checker with Gmail, so I just took it off my phone,” Camesha Jones, founder, and executive director of Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness, previously told Fortune. “Things like that can help you disconnect from work, as well as taking actual breaks and not filling them up by doing more work.”


Make technology work for you 

If Slack is the primary communication tool at your job, look into ways you can use it to your advantage, such as setting a notification schedule so you don’t receive messages outside of working hours. You can also use the status update function to let colleagues know when you’re taking lunch or doing focused work, so they can anticipate a delayed response and you don’t feel pressure to be on all the time.


Schedule microbreaks

Recent research suggests that 10 minutes is the ideal time for a microbreak, which can help workers recover and replenish energy. They’re also proven to be beneficial for your well-being and job performance.

“It’s widely thought that the average adult’s focused attention span is between 90 and 120 minutes and peaks at about 45 minutes,” Tanya Tarr, behavioral scientist and president of Cultivated Insights, previously told Fortune. “Taking a 10-minute break between a working interval of up to 90 minutes can help reset your attention span and keep cognitive momentum going for another focused 90-minute work interval. You have to pace yourself and let your brain catch its figurative breath.”


Be strategic about going into the office

If you’re working a hybrid schedule, consider structuring your week to support your personality type; the type of work you need to do and how you work best.

“You want to think about, ‘How can I use the environment I’m in to help me be most productive?’” Elizabeth Saunders, a time management coach, and author, previously told Fortune. “Leverage it so it’s actually helping you. If you really need to be by yourself to focus, do that for a day at home.”


Set yourself (and your space) up for success

A more ergonomic home office can go a long way toward supporting your physical health and productivity. According to a 2020 survey from the American Chiropractic Association, 92% percent of chiropractors said patients reported increased neck and back pain among other musculoskeletal issues since they began staying at home.

Start by adjusting your computer screen so that it’s in line with your eyes rather than you looking down, which can impact your posture. Also, consider swapping out your dining room chair for one that supports your lower back.


Have lunch with a friend

Sure, there may be times when you crave peace and quiet, but a recent report from the American Health Association found that sharing a meal with someone you care about, such as a loved one or your work bestie, may lower your stress levels, improve your workday, and help you make healthier food choices. 

“We know it’s not always as easy as it sounds to get people together at mealtime. Like other healthy habits, give yourself permission to start small and build from there,” Dr. Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins, said in a press release. “Set a goal to gather friends, family, or coworkers for one more meal together each week. If you can’t get together in person, think about how you can share a meal together over the phone or a computer.”

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