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Six tips for preventing burnout

We all possess a finite amount of energy in a day, so it is prudent to utilise it efficiently without sacrificing your mental and physical health.

UX/UI Design
5 minute read

So you want to be free from low emotions and chronic exhaustion. You lose patience often and are tired of getting involved in constant bickering with your peers. You want to be the best version of yourself. These are signs that you may be headed toward burnout. This article will offer tips on the things you can control in your life to prevent burnout.

Don't be afraid to say no.

We all possess a finite amount of energy in a day, so it is prudent to utilise it efficiently without sacrificing your mental and physical health. How many of you have said "yes" to something when you wanted to say "no"? Consider the following scenario:

You've got a list of tasks to complete today but your peers pop up and ask you for favour after favour. You do not want to end up in their bad books so you agree to help them out. Instead of focusing on your tasks, you direct your energy to the chores of others. So now what happens? One possibility is that you are unable to complete your duties. Consequentially, there is a risk of you being branded as lazy or incapable despite your altruism. The other possibility is that you overexert yourself. You're left feeling exhausted, grumpy and unproductive. It will only increase the probability of you making errors.

Holding your ground becomes pivotal to protecting your health if other's tasks interfere with your goals. Nobody wants to be rejected so the trick is to choose your words well. Acknowledge the other person's situation and be specific about your reasons behind the “no”. Offer alternatives such as additional resources they can access or propose another time when you have more bandwidth. It ensures that the communication between you both remains amicable in the future.

Maintain work-life balance

“Overworking is the Black Plague of the 21st century.” — Richie Norton (Author, Serial Entrepreneur)

Have you been inundated with “emergency” work calls/messages when you are on leave? If you have responded to them in the past, you have noticed that this has become a recurrent experience. Your colleagues even expect you to be available during your days off or the wee hours of the night. As you realise, you are not rewarded but punished with burnout.

Hopefully, from the previous tip, you feel more confident in saying “no”. To enforce boundaries, be aware of your rights as an employee. If you are entitled to go on leave, you have the right not to respond to work calls. To protect yourself, communicate your concerns and offer alternatives. Even if they continue their approach, resist the urge to respond to the calls so that they understand the message. They will eventually stop bothering you since they know they will not receive a response anytime soon. This strategy has worked wonders for me in staying productive and avoiding burnout.

Wave perfectionism goodbye

“Perfect is the enemy of good.” — Voltaire (Writer, Historian, Philosopher)

While it is commendable that you set high expectations for yourself, be cautious not to let these high expectations lead you to burnout. You need to evaluate if the expectations are realistic. Moreover, reflect the root cause of attaining perfection. Are you putting this pressure on yourself? Or has society set expectations of you?

The drawback of perfection is that it can eventually make you fear failure because you will be frustrated by your perceived lack of progress towards perfection. Due to the developed fear, you will not be motivated to experiment with new opportunities. Being “perfect” takes practice, and if you are afraid of trying, how can you expect to be “perfect”? You can break this loop by celebrating your progress, no matter how small it is. Your soul will thank you for being good enough and not running after unattainable perfection.

Defeating perfection can also be a matter of priority. While this is an inspiring goal, the peril is that concentrating on too many activities in a given timeframe can hinder your progress. As a result, frustration creeps in, and you do not feel good enough. The antidote to that is to focus on one thing at a time. You will experience less stress and have more confidence in tackling the task. Once you accomplish one activity, you will gain the drive to handle other tasks.


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Immerse in activities that bring you joy

“Self-care is how you take your power back.” — Lalah Delia (Writer)

I love creating digital art based on popular concepts. Combining this activity with my Spotify tunes creates a rejuvenating effect in me. The things you enjoy will offer a fresh perspective, and you might find that a challenging task is no longer arduous. Take the time to reflect on the things you are grateful for.

If you're able, get married to exercise

Make it a point to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule. Depending on my schedule, I exercise in the early morning or evening. Any form of exercise can bring improvements in your day-to-day life. I usually add yoga, cardio, meditation and dance routines in an hour-long session. Sometimes, I go to group classes at the gym or follow YouTube videos. Exercising releases the “happy” hormones into your body. It reduces your stress, regulates your sleeping patterns and enhances your productivity.

Find your crowd

Have you felt that no matter how much effort you put in, others overlook your achievement? Or you just aren't getting any inspiration from your current surroundings? The best solution is to consider altering the environment. It might be terrifying to undertake a project on your own. Thankfully, connecting with folks is super attainable. You can reach numerous communities, chat with people and exchange learnings. People who are part of supportive communities feel understood and experience less stress. When you share your problems with empathic people, you may learn a new way of handling them. As a result, you will feel more accepted and feel more positive about your work.

Wrapping up

The above tips have supported me in maintaining my sanity, and I hope they work for you. Contributing at work is similar to running a marathon. Manage your energy so that you can sustain yourself in the long term. Deborah A. Olson mentions in her book Success: The Psychology of Achievement that too much pressure puts the body in a “fight or flight” mode, which can be beneficial for the short term. However, we are not designed to be in that state for an extended period. Therefore, adequate rest, self-care, work-life balance, and a conducive environment are the remedy to preventing burnout. Everyone deserves to feel content with their professional and personal life.

References and recommended readings