A recent research commissioned by the Guardian on over 1000 UK working adults found that 43% of them experience work-related stress more than half of the time. Moreover, 30% of people surveyed said that their productivity has suffered as a result of it.
Today, more and more people seem to feel that stress and work go hand in hand and experience burnout close to breaking point. Burnout may show up as exhaustion, annoyance, and irritation, or as a lack of focus, inability to work for extended periods of time and a tendency to question and cancel everything in sight.
It can affect your productivity, personal and professional relationships as well as your quality of life, so it’s important to recognise the signs and know how to manage your work to reduce stress.
Signs and symptoms of excessive stress at work include:
Having a negative and critical attitude
Dreading going into work, and wanting to leave once you’re there
Having low energy and little interest
Having trouble sleeping
Being regularly absent from work
Having feelings of emptiness
Becoming angry, irritable or withdrawn
Experiencing physical complaints such as headaches, illness, or backache
Pulling away emotionally from your colleagues or clients
Feeling that your work and contribution goes unrecognized
Blaming others for your mistakes
Thinking of quitting work or changing roles
So, what can you do if you experience some or all the above symptoms?
Lack of sleep is one of the biggest contributors to stress and poor effectiveness. Everyone is different however, it is advisable to get around 8 hours of sleep in order for you to feel refreshed and both mentally and physically energised.
Exercise is a great way to alleviate stress. Physical health strongly affects mental health so make sure you regularly go for a walk, to the gym or play a team sport. You could do that by getting up earlier or even at lunchtime.
Recharge and try to have a work/life balance
It is important to take some time out to relax. Getting out of town for a bit, visiting friends you haven’t seen in a while, going for a drive somewhere new or doing something you haven’t done in a while but enjoy doing are all ways you can reset. Investing time in your relationships with your friends and family and having a solid support network impacts directly upon your work-life.
You may be trying to take on too much. Try to delegate and share your responsibility if things start to get too hectic. Have an open conversation with your manager, clarify what’s expected from you and find out ways to get the necessary resources or support from colleagues.
Burnout is likely to affect every committed professional at one stage during their working life. The key is to recognise your breaking point and actively manage your workload, lifestyle and priorities to ensure you perform well at work without sacrificing your physical and mental health.
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