“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” —Dolly Parton
The American Work Ethic
Living in the good ol’ USA we grow up believing that a sure way to get that “American dream” is through a little bit of luck and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. When looking to succeed we are easily tempted to put every ounce of ourselves into our work. Over the years statistics show fewer and fewer employees actually use their vacation days, paid or not. With this type of work mentality burn out becoming more frequent it is no surprise that our society’s health has plummeted with illnesses directly linked to stress.
Work Burnout & Long Term Stress’s Negative Affect
Burnout results from chronic workplace stress. Symptoms include, cynicism, depression, feelings of exhaustion, feelings of emotional distance with loved ones, and lack of performance in the workplace. Whether mental or physical, long term or excessive amounts of stress have a negative impact on all the systems of our bodies.
When under stress our adrenal glands release cortisol, better known as the “stress hormone”. This sends our body into “fight or flight” mode and spikes our adrenalen. While this is natural and a part of our adaptability, living in a constant state of “fight or flight” is detrimental to our overall health.
Science has proven that high levels of stress cause headaches, digestive issues, trouble sleeping, depression, and weight gain. Over time this may lead to serious health complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and memory issues. To live a healthy life we must maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Take a look below at these three steps to both recover from and prevent future burnout.
- Set Boundaries
When we have apps on our phones sending us notifications every time we receive a new email or work group text we’ll never be able to get away from work. Start your recovery, or prevention, by setting a designated time for all work notifications to be turned off. Make sure they are off on your days off too. Better yet, take your work email account off your phone completely.
It’s also important to set clear boundaries with your employer in regard to when you are available. You do not need to answer your bosses call in the middle of dinner or while you are enjoying a much needed weekend away. Lastly, I do not know who needs to read this but… STOP bringing your laptop to bed!
2. Take Advantage of “Me time”
Me time is totally underrated. Taking care of ourselves by investing in our personal interests is just a fact of life. No, it is not selfish and you should never feel guilty about doing so. When we take time to learn a new hobby, pamper ourselves at the spa, or enjoy a good book at our favorite coffee shop, we are filling ourselves up. You can not pour from an empty cup. So get out your calendar and pencil in something for you.
3. Priorities, Priorities, Priorities
The workplace is an exceptionally hard place to say no. We feel the pressure to attend every event, take on every new project, impress our boss, help out our colleagues, make more money, the list goes on. Before we know it we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. It is great to feel challenged but it is also important to know our limits. We are only human after all.
Thankfully, there is a pretty easy fix to this and it all comes down to getting our priorities in the right place. It’s great to want to make an impression and take on growth opportunities but protecting our personal time should be up on our list too. We can start by being mindful of our calendar.
For example, look at the upcoming work events for the next three months. Choose a few to say yes and put down the rest for a no. When it comes to taking on more responsibility or new projects we must first take a step back before adding something to our plate.
We can ask ourselves a few questions to help us with the decision. What are my motives in taking on this new responsibility? Will I be able to balance the effort and time I want to put into this new task? How will this disrupt the work-life balance I have now? What can I move around to make space for this new opportunity? Ultimately, if our priorities are in place and we ask ourselves the important questions we’re setting ourselves up for balance no matter what life throws at us.
Setting Technology Boundaries is Key
Living in the age of technology it can be seemingly impossible to unplug. It is always tempting to shoot off one last email or take that late night phone call from your boss but keep in mind your health and happiness are worth so much more than that little bit of extra work. Protect your work-life balance and you will end up more confident, have more energy, be happier, more productive, and have healthier relationships.
Happy boundary setting!