Help yourself avoid burnout

Help yourself avoid burnout

There is a construct in psychological research called ‘self-control’ that is well understood and very much part of our daily lives,” said Chandler Chang, PhD, a psychologist and founder of Therapy Lab. “Self-control is what drives us to do things we may not initially want to do but that contribute to our well-being in the long run.”

This includes things like exercise, good nutrition, and self-care, all of which can help people live healthier lives.

The fascinating thing about self-control is that it works like a gas tank,” she said. “At the beginning of the day, our self-control ‘tanks’ are full, but by the end of the day, especially a long, grueling workday, our tanks are running on empty.”

In short, when you’re out of energy, you have to fight a lot of instincts to overrule yourself.

“People often blame themselves when their energy runs out and they make less healthy choices, but really it’s more about keeping that self-control tank full,” Chang said.

Here are some tips that may help:

1. Be aware
The first step to reversing the problem is recognizing it — and then being willing to do something about it.

“Armed with nonjudgmental self-awareness, the individual can slowly but surely make choices that are healthier in the long term,” Manly said. “For example, healthy lunches and dinners can be prepped on Sundays to allow for easier healthy eating during a busy week.”

2. Ask for breaks and boundaries
Employers can help their employees keep their “gas tanks” full by offering breaks and setting healthy boundaries, like no evening emailing. If your employer doesn’t provide those boundaries or you think they’re still too intrusive, ask for adjustments.

3. Focus on sleep
Good sleep can cover a lot of ills. Poor sleep compounds work-related stress and anxiety.

“Initially stress can suppress appetite, but when it is prolonged, it can lead to comfort eating or overindulgence in food and alcohol,” said Sabina Brennan, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Trinity College Dublin and author of “100 Days to a Younger Brain.” “When you get insufficient sleep or broken sleep, you will eat more the next day. Getting only four hours’ sleep for six days is sufficient to push your body into a prediabetic state.”

4. Go to HR
If your best efforts to rectify your exhaustion and burnout don’t amount to any changes, you may want to seek support and guidance from your company’s human resources staff, Manly says.

These individuals are professionals with experience in helping employees sort through work-related issues and find reasonable solutions. Stressing your concerns to them may not only help you; it may help others in the same boat as you in the long run.

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