Of the many perks owning my own business affords me, one of them is never dreading coming to work. I don’t spend all day Sunday thinking about how I don’t want to go back to work the next day. Those that do are on a surefire path to getting burned out on the job.
A new study by ComPsych, a company that provides employee assistance programs, reported that workers are feeling more burned out than ever by their jobs.
The survey asked more than 2,000 employees about the stress levels of their jobs. The findings showed that 2 out of 3 workers report high levels of stress with extreme fatigue and a feeling of being out of control. And more than half of those surveyed said they miss one or two days of work per year because of stress.
That’s no way to live your life. Hating what you do can lead to depression, severe mood swings, loss of interest, fatigue and disillusionment. These symptoms can have negative effects at your job or business thus exasperating your problems.
Even though I like what I do, occasionally I’ll work too many long hours on a new campaign and get burned out. I get tired of working on the same project too much and can’t stand the thought of going back to work on it. When that happens I take a break. I’ll go for a long walk, perhaps a couple of miles to completely relax.
Studies show that a 20 minute walk around the block or parking lot during lunch can have the same relaxing effect. Turn off your cell phone, don’t check email and put away your laptop when taking a break. Take an over-all break from work related activities.
Always take a lunch break, even if you’re not hungry. Drive to the park or get outside. A change in scenery can help clear your mind of work and help you relieve stress.
The longer you can get away the better you’ll feel. Two week vacations will rejuvenate you, but most of us can’t afford to be away from work for that long. Instead take off a Thursday and Friday or a Monday and Tuesday to extend a weekend. You don’t have to go anywhere to find relaxation. Sometimes taking a break from your work will help you realize what’s important and what you can do better when you return.
Use that time to identify the areas that cause you the most stress and problems. Is it a particular person or task that is causing these negative feelings? Once you have identified the problem you can come up with a plan to deal with the stressor. Sometimes just changing the way you deal with the stressor makes things better.
Those times that I feel like I’m being pulled in a hundred different directions and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done makes me realize I’m on the path to becoming burned out. That’s why it’s important to manage expectations. First I admit to myself that I can’t squeeze everything in. And I don’t try to. I only do what I can.
Maintaining a good work-life balance is key to keeping that burnt out feeling at bay. During stressful times I’ll make sure I get together with my friends that weekend or do something fun with my wife like go to the movies or throw a barbeque. Social events always pull my thoughts away from work and reenergize me.
If I ever get to the point where I’m cynical about the work I’m doing I look for ways to improve my outlook. I make a list of all the things I enjoy about my work. I try not to get too down and maintain a positive attitude.
If you are already burned out, ignoring how you feel won’t make the problem go away. Instead feed your artistic side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Take a painting class, start up an old hobby again, or decorate a room. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work and allow you to express your creative, artistic side.
An extension of that is to try to think out of the box. This makes you challenge yourself and spices things up! Find innovative ways to do the tasks you loathe, tweak your current offers in a new way to get better results, or imagine new products or services you can add to your business. The trick is to get your brain out of its rut and to think in new ways that will ultimately uplift your soul.