Tiredness. A nagging cold or illness that keeps coming back. Aches and pains. Headaches. Interrupted sleep. Difficulty falling asleep. Feeling like your work is never-ending.
If you’ve ever experienced some of these, and let’s face it, many of us have, then you’ll know the beginnings of burnout.
Burnout is your body’s natural reaction to being put under significant stress day after day, and it can have serious long-term detrimental effects on your body.
When you’re feeling burned out, you can start to become irritable, lose interest in the things that you usually enjoy, and can feel overwhelmed and hopeless, not just at work, but in the rest of your life, too.
Studies have shown that putting your body under repeated stress over long periods of time results in poorer health against every health metric in older age.
Nick Arvanitis, Head of Workplace Research and Resources at Beyond Blue says it’s easy to develop a sense of guilt about ‘switching off’ from work, especially as our working lives and home lives become more intertwined with the changing nature of technology and decentralised workplaces.
“People are not only working longer hours in the office but are taking work home more often. There is a belief that you have to do it to keep up. Tied to that is a common feeling that people feel guilty if they try to switch off. They feel as if they are not pulling their weight.”
Yet, according to Angela Lockwood, author of the book Switch Off: How to find calm in a noisy world, the hardest step to make can be recognising the need to ‘switch off’ in the first place.
Lockwood has developed a list of 7 guilt-free ways to switch off, which includes suggestions like reducing your tech time, taking regular rest breaks, and changing the way you approach tasks to help reduce feelings of guilt at work.
And while senior managers have an important role to play in helping to set an example of healthy work practices like going home on time, the decision to set clear boundaries around when you’ll switch off from work is something that every employee can make for themselves.
By setting healthy boundaries around work, you can help to reduce your everyday stress levels and make time for rewarding, recharging activities to help you start to tip the scales back in your favour and work more sustainably.
Don’t wait until you retire to find a better work-life balance
If you’re feeling like stress is taking control of your life, there are a few things you can start doing right now that can have a significant effect on reducing your stress levels.
By taking control of your work stress and making time for yourself, you can start prioritising your wellbeing and long-term health and look after yourself better.
Get started by reading our tips for managing stress and finding a better balance and start making changes today.