Reducing Work-Related Stress: How to Avoid Career Burnout

career burnoutAre you are an employee, feeling overwhelmed, worrying about career burnout, and wondering “is it just me?” Fear not because you are not alone. This post explores the facts behind the headlines and shares tips for overcoming work-related stress, depression, and burnout to improve your well-being.

Stress and Career Burnout

The Health and Safety Executive’s annual statistics reveal how many people are feeling career burnout and make for some very interesting reading.

The highlights show:

  • An astonishing 15.4 million working days were lost in 2017/2018 due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
  • 595,000 workers in 2017-2018 were suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety including new or long-standing cases.
  • The biggest cause of work-related stress, depression, and anxiety was ‘workload’ (44%).
  • The industry most affected was education, followed closely by health and social work activities.

Having spoken to quite a few teachers recently, these figures absolutely reflect the discussions that I’m having around this subject.

Work Overload

As an employment solicitor dealing with workplace issues all the time, we have seen a clear increase in the number of recent inquiries that relate to stress, depression, or anxiety. World Mental Health Day where the goal was to raise the awareness of mental health. MIND, a leading mental health charity which campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health categorize stress, depression, and anxiety as types of mental illness.

When you consider how much of your time is spent in the workplace, if the source of your stress, depression or anxiety is workload, you can imagine how serious a problem this can be and how easily it can impact on your personal life as well.

In times of austerity, which we are now all too familiar with, budgets and financial margins are increasingly tight for business. So, you can see how it might be that reducing staff within the workplace could lead to, in some cases, a significant increase in employee workload and a lack of support. This, in turn, may lead to longer days and less free time away from the workplace. The constant use of work (or even personal) mobile phones allows us to be “working” for much longer than our contractual hours provide. Think of how many people you see on the train on the way to and from work who are still dealing with work e-mails. Is this the fault of the employer or is it just how it is?

Switching Off

In my view, employers could do more to alleviate the increased workload pressure that is placed on employees. Yet, either they turn a blind eye to what is going on or they are simply not aware of the pressures that their workforce is facing.

Should it be that when you have ‘left the office’ you can comfortably be in that ‘out of office state’? Should you be able to “switch off”?

Certainly, some professions require you to be “on call.” However, the requirement to be available “out of hours” should be part and parcel of the job description. Nevertheless, when you finish your day’s work, you would expect to be free to relax and unwind without interruption. But, we are working longer days because of the availability of better technology.

Tips for Overcoming Stress

I hate to leave you with just doom and gloom, so, here are my tips for overcoming workplace stress and avoiding career burnout:

  • Make your employers aware of any workplace stress that you are feeling. Don’t ignore stress, depression or anxiety, especially when the cause is from the workplace.
  • Ask for support if you need it, but be realistic about what an employer can do. There is little point making what others may see as unreasonable demands from an employer it just cannot deliver.
  • If there is little your employer can reasonably do about alleviating workloads, remember, more money is not always the answer. It just becomes more acceptable to do the increased work!
  • Take control of how long your working day is going to be. Don’t take calls or checking e-mails out of working hours if possible. In reality, there is little you can do about any issue arising and, more likely, it can wait!
  • Just because a client e-mails you at midnight does not mean they expect an immediate response. Be kind to yourself and don’t impose unnecessary pressure upon yourself. Not every e-mail demands an immediate response.
  • Take proper rest breaks and lunchtimes. Sit down to eat away from your desk or workstation.
  • Remember to give as much time and attention to your family and friends as you do to your employer.
  • Speak to someone about how you feel. Often, it helps to put things into perspective.
  • Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. Switch off your devices a good while before you go to sleep – a really difficult one I know!

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, do not suffer in silence. Stress, anxiety, and depression of any kind are bad for your mental health. They can lead to more serious issues that might require long-term medication and therapy. Put in place tips like those above to help overcome the things that stress you and avoid career burnout.

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For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at LearningToLeap.

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David Shindler AuthorAbout the Author: David Shindler helps you to be clearer, more confident, and purposeful so you take the right job and career actions for you. Career Coach, Blogger, Books on developing your employability, internships, and critical attitudes for success.

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