Unfortunately with today’s demanding workforce and a society that is continually on-the-go, employee burnout is all too common. A 2019 Gallup survey revealed that as many as 23% of employees confess that they feel overworked and exhausted always or very often. Another 44%–nearly half!–say they feel burned out sometimes. In other words, “That means about two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job,” Gallup writes.
Burnout is a big problem for employees and employers. Exhausted employees are more likely to engage in arguments with their bosses and coworkers, call in sick, and be less productive. Plus, they’re more likely to feel insecure, less fulfilled, and more depressed.
Combating burnout out can be as simple as striking a reasonable and sustainable work-life balance. Of course, while it is arguably straightforward or simple, it is not always easy. Here are some ways women in the workforce can regain control of their professional and personal lives, and maintain work-life balance over time.
Tips to Help Create Work-Life Balance
Prioritize Physical Health
Gallup reports that employees suffering from symptoms of burnout are 23% more likely to visit the emergency room. That is a big deal, especially given that just 3% of urgent care patients need to be referred to the emergency room, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. If this describes you or could easily describe you, it is time to reevaluate the amount of time you spend at work. Working to the point of physical exhaustion is not physically or mentally healthy–and it is ultimately making you worse at your job, too!
For the best balance, prioritize your physical health. That means eating healthy as much as possible, even if it is faster to grab something quick and convenient (and not all that good for you) on the go. Consider prepping healthy meals and snacks ahead, so they will be just as convenient and accessible as a take-out meal or an energy bar.
Set time aside for regular exercise. Exercising routinely improves your cardiovascular health and gets blood and oxygen flooding to your muscles. This gives you more energy, puts you in a better mood, and helps you sleep better at night. Some employers even offer health insurance incentives to help you regularly attend the gym, and promise better life insurance rates for employees who can run an eight-minute mile. (Disclaimer: The eight-minute mile promise is marketing lingo from life insurance companies. They are looking for customers who can pass a physical to show proof of sustained cardiovascular health, lower heart rates, and healthy blood pressure to qualify for those eight-minute mile rates!)
Get Some Sleep!
Sleep is important. Lack of sleep causes a whole host of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Not getting enough sleep increases your chances of getting sick, and it negatively impacts your cognitive abilities, reducing focus, creativity, and overall brain activity. Lack of sleep also makes you irritable and depressed.
Remember, even healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep–no exceptions! For better sleep, establish a regular sleeping and waking schedule, keep blue light levels low (you can download apps on your phone to reduce blue light levels at nighttime), limit alcohol intake, do not eat too close to bedtime, and practice relaxation techniques.
Be Your Own Advocate
Across the U.S., 25% of interstate highways are packed to a 95% capacity. Your mental and physical energy should not be nearing or hovering at fully capacity. Thankfully, there are several ways to mitigate burnout symptoms and size control of your work-life balance. Here are just a few:
- Talk to your employer. Open lines of communication are key to a healthy working relationship. If you are continually exhausted or may benefit from a more flexible work schedule, lay it all out on the table. Be prepared to discuss solutions, alternatives, and ways those alternatives can benefit you and your employer.
- Set boundaries. Make work time work time and home time. As much as possible, do not confuse the two. Do not check work emails off the clock. If you are spending time with family, friends, or a loved one, focus on them. Make it about fostering and maintaining healthy relationships, not checking your work email off-hours.
- Be realistic. Do not take on too much. Say no if you need to and delegate tasks if you need additional support. Remember, you can delegate at home, too. If you need your partner to make dinner a couple of nights a week to feel most settled and relaxed, go ahead and say so.
Keep Track of Your Stress Levels
Keep tabs on stress, and be honest with yourself. One way to do that is to look out for physical symptoms of stress. These are less subjective or arguable than mental health symptoms. For example, 50 million Americans have acne according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAM) and frequent flareups can be an indication that you are under a considerable amount of or even undue amounts of stress.
Stay honest. Note physical symptoms, and take a break when you notice persistent physical systems of work-related stress.
Constantly checking work email and Facebook is not healthy for anyone. If you are taking a well-deserved day off from work, make the most of it and do it in a healthy way.
For starters, use your paid days off! According to the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. men and women burned as many as 768 million days of paid time off in 2018, simply choosing not to or feeling unable to use them. Once you have committed to taking time off, use it as a true day off. Do not constantly check in with your boss and coworkers. The average American will spend four hours on the couch every day. That means it is more than okay to sit back, relax, and take a few moments–or ideally several hours!–for yourself. If the weather is nice, consider spending time outside to boost your mood and energy levels. Whether that means sitting outside with a book, going on a hike, or spending a day at the beach, diverting your attention away from screens for a while is undeniably beneficial.
Don’t let work take over your life. If you are feeling constantly stressed, put in the time and effort to make time for you. Self-care is a growing trend. Rise to meet it.
How do you create work-life balance in your life? We’d love to hear your tips in our comment section below!