Career burnout can be a risk for anyone, even if you love your work and generally find it fulfilling. In fact, being exceptionally dedicated to your work can sometimes put you more at risk for getting exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s important to recognize the signs of burnout so you can prevent it before it begins to undermine your career and even your whole life. It’s also important to have a burnout-prevention toolkit in the form of self-care rituals, stress relief techniques, and time-saving tips — this guide presented by the Santa Ana Police Officers Association can help you discover some techniques to avoid that burnout.
Some signs of burnout to look out for include lack of motivation, difficulty sleeping, increasingly negative perspectives, and even a sensation of being trapped and alone. Burnout can also make it harder to avoid unhealthy habits such as overdrinking or other forms of substance abuse. Before you reach the stage of burnout where these signs become obvious, however, you may find yourself routinely pushing yourself too hard and neglecting your own needs. So even if you feel excited and fulfilled now, it’s better to put on the brakes earlier and find some ways to relax and relieve stress before you crash.
If you’re pushing yourself too hard you may be forgetting to prioritize your physical health, and that will eventually catch up with you. You probably know that basic self-care for the well-being of your body means getting nutritious meals, sleeping enough, and staying well hydrated.
But it’s smart to have other techniques available too, when you feel you’re getting physically run-down. Massage and bodywork can ease chronic pain and help you relax. Maintaining a healthy gut by taking probiotics or eating healthy fermented food can have a significant and beneficial overall effect on your whole body. Another way you can protect your physical health is by avoiding bright lights, especially blue lights, when you’re nearing bedtime: exposure to those blue lights can interfere with melatonin production and mess up your sleep.
Ideally, you will reduce your stress by taking some time away from work, simply to relax and recuperate. If you have unused vacation hours or mental health days, use them and plan a getaway, or even a staycation – if you’re able to be at home without getting lured into doing work. Also, consider whether you can manage to work reduced hours.
If getting away and getting time off isn’t practical right now, though, you can still free yourself from some stress by focusing on delegating more effectively at work, so you aren’t carrying everything on your shoulders. Figure out what popular stress relief methods work for you, too.
Some find yoga or other gentle stretching exercises helpful. Others benefit from meditation. What works for you may be highly individual. Maybe listening to music or coloring is your best escape. Or, you may find that taking time to write about how and what you’re feeling is a relief. Other stress relief methods that are less widely known include forest bathing, walking outside barefoot, or self-massage.
Sometimes the thing that is burning you out isn’t just long hours and overwork, but your job itself. If this is the case, consider what your options are for switching jobs, or even taking the leap into a whole new career. Read up on what work you might be qualified to do, based on your resume as it is. If none of that appeals to you, another option might be to pursue new job training or even an online degree.
Don’t let burnout take the joy out of doing what you love! But, if it turns out you’re no longer loving it, give yourself permission to try something new. You never know where it might take you.
Article submitted by Gwen Payne