How to Prevent Burnout and Stay Productive?

Consider briefly holding a glass of water. Isn’t it not much of an effort? This is due to the fact that little to no energy is being exerted. Consider, however, someone who holds the same glass of water throughout the day. It may appear that the person is holding it effortlessly, but no one knows the mental and physical exhaustion that person is experiencing. That scenario exemplifies one of the most invisible battles that anyone faces especially at work: stress and burnout. 

Burnout is classified as an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization. Even if it is not a medical condition, it can have a negative impact on one’s health. Exhaustion, fatigue, demotivation, frustration, inefficiency, and agitation are some of the symptoms. According to O’Neill, “Burnout describes the thoughts and feelings associated with feeling overwhelmed and fatigued by life circumstances.

Though everyone copes differently, here are some simple ways to avoid burnout and be more productive at work.

  1. Take a break from time to time.

Do not pressure yourself from taking a break because it is not a guilty pleasure but something our body needs. Take a deep breath and make room for your mental and physical well-being. Try using the Pomodoro Technique. It is a time management system that encourages people to take frequent short breaks in order to stay focused and avoid mental exhaustion.

According to ToDoist, Pomodoro technique goes as easy as:

  1. Picking a task;
  2. Setting a 25-minute timer;
  3. Working on that task till the time is up;
  4. Take a 5-minute break; and
  5. After four sets of pomodoro, take a longer 15-30 minute break.
  1. Make plans.

Planning leads to progress, which leads to success. This can take someone to a better position intrapersonally, and at work. Furthermore, this can effectively assist someone in being more efficient in decision-making and ultimately achieving desired outputs.  That’s because when you know what you are doing, you know what your goals and objectives are. You can start doing a plan as easy as creating a to-do list of your tasks. As a wise man once said, “Success is the residue of planning. – Benjamin Franklin.”

  1. Live a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle embodies a healthy mind. One can attain a healthy lifestyle by simply partaking in three core activities–regular exercise, eating healthy foods, and getting a goodnight sleep.

  • Any exercise is better than no exercise. A simple morning walk can suffice already, as long as there is a physical stimulation that can regulate your cardiovascular system and/or your body as a whole.
  • You are what you eat. This is due to the fact that our gut and brain are inextricably linked. Whereas our guts can influence our behavior and eventually our brain. According to the American Psychological Association, “the brain can manifest gut bacteria that can produce an array of neurochemicals that the brain uses for the regulation of physiological and mental processes.” (Whiteman, 2015)
  • Sleep is the final element of a healthy lifestyle. Every night, a minimum of eight hours of sleep is required. Although we are literally doing nothing while sleeping, our brain is actively working to regulate our minds and bodies so that we are ready to begin our day when we wake up. (i.e., improved immunity) 

“Good sleep is essential for maintaining our baseline mental health, as one night of sleep deprivation can dramatically affect mood the next day. Chronic exposure to poor sleep quality is associated with depression, anxiety, and other conditions.” – Erica Jansen, a nutritional epidemiologist

  1. Engage and socialize

Get up from where you are and look around the room for someone with whom you can comfortably converse. Having someone with whom to share your day can have a profoundly better impact on your mood. Face-to-face interaction, according to Susan Pinker, can release neurochemicals like oxytocin and dopamine that function as a psychological vaccination by boosting your sense of trust in other people and reducing your stress levels. (Cohut, 2018)

Form close social ties–preferably platonically–with your co-workmates so that you won’t feel as if your work is just a pre-requisite to corporate slavery but rather a hangout place where you can earn money.

  1. Find a new simulation

Taking yourself to same simulation everyday becomes as if a routinary iterary which forms a sense of habituation with lesser excitement. A completely different atmosphere that is unrelated to work can help someone recharge their spirits and possibly lessen burnout. A new hobby like relaxing with a game of Stardew Valley, hanging out with friends, enjoying a cup of coffee at home or in a cafe, reading motivational books, or going for a stroll in the park are examples of simulation. Discovering a new simulation can improve one’s attitude on life.

Knowing when to take a break is important, and pushing yourself to do all of your duties at once will not benefit you in any way. Sometimes, we have to slow down to speed up. That is because our mental health is as important as our physical health.