There are some key steps to recognising and avoiding burn-out. Throughout the day, recognise when your energy levels are declining i.e. restlessness, yawning, hunger and difficulty concentrating. Studies have shown that we need a break from work every 90 to 120 minutes throughout the day. Try to take some deep breaths, stretching, and/or take a walk around the block for 10 minutes. Sometimes, even just shutting your eyes and meditating for a brief period is enough to restore your concentration. Other strategies to avoid burn-out include:
- Practising mindfulness throughout the day.
- Take a power nap.
- Trying a relaxation technique.
- Eating regularly to avoid low blood-sugar dips.
- Avoiding excessive amounts of caffeine, which deplete energy reserves quickly.
- Designating an end point to your day i.e. a ‘clock-off’ time beyond which you do not do any more work.
- Taking regular holidays. Studies have shown that regular short breaks such as a weekend away can be just as rejuvenating as a longer holiday. Interestingly, holidays that are longer than nine days add no more benefits in terms of rejuvenation than those that are up to nine days long. So the key, really, is to take breaks often. I recommend taking a break every 8–12 weeks even if it is for a weekend.
- Try not to bring work home with you.
- Creating a routine in the evening for winding down. This might involve reading the paper, having a bath, or reading a book.
- Prioritising enjoyable activities that are not work-related in your week. This might be a sport, going shopping, or even just watching a movie.
Burn-out is essentially avoidable if you recognise your early warning signs and take proactive measures to halt it progressing. These are just some techniques to help you to avoid burn-out.