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Preventing Work Burnout: Regaining Control Over Work Stress

Do you ever feel like you’re burning the wick from both ends? And that you’re having difficulty keeping motivated? Or feel a constant frustration and anger but feel unclear about where it is coming from? Or feeling low energy and depressed at work? As a therapist working with clients with workplace stress and having a history of working with Employee Assistance Program clients, I have heard numerous clients share their work-related stress and “burnout” experiences.
Work-related burnout is that overwhelming or exhausted feeling people get in the workplace from a cumulative feeling of lack of control in the workplace. This overwhelming feeling is from a lack of control that builds up physically and emotionally in the body often taking a toll on the nervous system. This feeling can build up as a result of high workload, unfair treatment, high expectations of your boss, lack of direction or training, negative coworkers, uncollaborative teamwork, and feeling underappreciated.

You can increase your confidence and inner sense of peace/well-being related to your work.

  • Take breaks during the work day – While work time is focused on getting work done, simply taking one break during the day can give the mind a break. Even taking a break from the office building and walking to a restaurant, a park, or a walk around the block can give a mental break to the mind and help recharge for the rest of the day.
  • Write down your emotions – It can be helpful to get clear with yourself what you’re feeling and where this stems from. What is the work-related stressor? This can help you identify possible options and solutions.
  • Acknowledge what is in and out of your control – Take inventory of what is in your control – Identify what roles are part of your job and focus on this. Take ownership of what is within your responsibility. Also are there triggers or frustrations that you can talk to your boss about and possibly negotiate or brainstorm solutions?
  • Practice letting go – For what is out of your control, can you practice mentally releasing this while at work. After work, do you find yourself still ruminating about work? In some ways, it can be as if we are not actually present with where we are at after work. So when you leave work, the goal is to leave work at work. When you leave work, it may be helpful to imagine or visualize shift your focus away from work onto something personally that is important or enjoyable to you. You can also listen to a passive meditation which focuses on images of letting go of your thoughts rather than ruminating or getting preoccupied with them.
  • Set work-specific goals for yourself – Getting clear with yourself about what needs completed can be helpful. A specific goal includes who, what, where, when, and how. This will set you up for success in completing your goals.
  • Be intentional with your time after work – “Switch gears” focusing your attention on something else after work such as reading a good book, cooking a new recipe, taking a relaxing bath, scheduling a massage, joining fun class, meeting up with friends, or planning something with your partner.
    Spend time with supportive people – Both inside and outside of work, identify coworkers that you feel are supportive and encouraging so that you may encourage each other about work-related stress.

If you have found yourself struggling with work-life balance and work-related stress, contact Symmetry Counseling to receive extra support and stress management tools for managing from one of our therapists.

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