The pressures of being tuned in 24/7 can make you feel like you never get a break, leading to the dreaded feeling of burnout. Two out of three employees experience burnout, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Not only do most Americans work more than 40 hours per week on average, we’re connected to our mobile devices for an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes every day. While it may feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, there are ways to make the feeling of burnout work to your advantage, says Steve McClatchy, author of “Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example.”
“The time that we act on burnout seems to be the place when we reach rock bottom, when you say to yourself, ‘Well things can't get any worse,’” McClatchy says.
This rock-bottom feeling can be the start of motivation to get yourself out of the cycle and give you the energy you need to jumpstart a change.
“We know there’s a lot of time, energy and effort that’s going to go into making things better,” he says. “Burnout can sometimes be the reason we get that energy to work on our lives or work on our businesses.”
Take inventory of your hours
It’s important to take an inventory of how many hours you’re working every week and identify when you feel the most burnt out. Be aware of how often you take mental and physical breaks: instead of eating lunch at your desk, try to take a walk and clear your head before diving back into work.
Reevaluate your goals
If you’re consistently feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list and your responsibilities at work, it’s important to reevaluate your goals and ask yourself if they’re actually realistic. Then, think about what parts of your job slow you down the most and how you can make those tasks more efficient and enjoyable. Brainstorm ways to increase the time devoted to the enjoyable parts of your job.
Reach out for advice
If you feel like your work situation is affecting your mental health, reach out to a professional or check in with a mentor or someone else you trust. Your company may offer counseling sessions for free as a work benefit. You can also read books on burnout and educate yourself on the warning signs.
McClatchy says taking small steps will lead to these larger improvements. Feeling like you’re moving forward and making an effort to improve your situation is the key to getting a handle on burnout, he says.
“I think the cure for burnout is improvement,” McClatchy says. “That feeling that when your life gets better and you get excited about it—that is what starts to extinguish the feeling of burnout.”