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Tags: Mental Health, career-guidance, blog

There will always be an element of stress in professional life, but extreme and unrelenting pressures can lead to a debilitating state referred to as burnout. Those experiencing burnout are likely to feel exhausted, distance themselves, or become inefficient at work.

Whilst resolving burnout may require changes to your job or team, there are steps you can take to prevent burnout, such as prioritising your health, shifting perspective and reducing exposure to activities and relationships that trigger stress. From an employer perspective, there are also ways you can ward off burnout on your team, including setting realistic work limits, providing meaningful recognition, and insisting on time for rest and renewal when employees show signs of stress. 

Advice for preventing burnout and work-related stress

1.     Work with purpose 

When it comes to finding fulfilment at work, how you perceive your job is key. You can attribute your sense of purpose to three elements: feeling connected to something bigger than yourself, knowing your work matters, and understanding how their work affects other people and not just the company's bottom line. 

Make a mental logic connection from your work to the things that matter most. For example, if you work in recruitment, gather a sense of reward from how you’re helping the candidates you’ve placed, as opposed to how reached your monthly target. Whatever you do, make sure you connect it to the bigger picture.

2.     Job analysis

It’s difficult to feel fulfilled or accomplished if you’re unsure what your goals are and what is expected of you / what’s not. Performing a job analysis helps identify what’s truly important in your role so that you can minimise or delegate tasks that aren’t essential and concentrate on the ones that are.

Refer back to your job offer and description and make a list of your day-to-day roles and responsibilities. If you are still unsure, book a meeting with your manager to define their expectations. If you feel they are assigning you too much work, discuss the issue with them and come prepared with solutions i.e. shifting certain tasks to somebody else who is equipped.

3.     Take control

By this, we mean to manage your time effectively. Working late, outside of your hours or through your lunch break to get work done is not sustainable and can lead to burnout. Instead, identify areas where you can save time and work more efficiently within working hours to improve your work-life balance. 

Firstly determine how much you can feasibly achieve in one day, identify the tasks that take up a lot of your time, and identify which provide the greatest return. From this, create a daily schedule and allocate sections of your day to specific tasks, starting with the most pressing tasks. Having bite-size and smaller deadlines makes them more manageable and less overwhelming. You may find that putting it down on paper the night before will prevent you from lying awake at night worrying about the tasks you need to complete the following day. 

4.     Take time for yourself

Managing stress in the workplace also requires effort outside of work. Exercise can help alleviate stress and create a sense of wellbeing, increase energy and productivity, whilst also helping you to get a better night’s sleep.

How can you make time for yourself? Getting up earlier or even exercising at lunchtime will prevent it from encroaching on your evenings and family time. You could also team up with a colleague or friend to spur on each other. 

5.     Learn to manage stress

Remember, that everything has a solution. Instead of catastrophising, switch your perspective to be solution-focused. When you feel stressed, practise what helps you in these situations, whether it's meditation, positive thinking, or breathing exercises.

You may even want to start a reflection journal to write down your thoughts and process events. This can often help you get a new viewpoint about the situations you are in and reframe them. For example, instead of being frustrated when a project doesn't go to plan, you can outline the learnings which will benefit the next project. 

There you have it, five tips for preventing burnout at work and taking your productivity to a whole new level. But remember, even small steps are a step forward.

If your role is no longer helping you feel fulfilled, or it’s a blocker to any of the above, we recruit across 20 sectors and have a whole host of roles available. Browse our current opportunities.

Further reading you may be interested in:

How to manage mental health at work

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Six of the best books to help you with your wellbeing