Been hitting the snooze button on your phone every day? Feeling incapable of leaving bed until the very last minute? Struggling with lethargy or lack of focus as soon as you arrive at your workstation?
If symptoms like these are present at the end of the year, not even the "LIVE LOVE LAUGH" pillow you purchased on Etsy is going to save you (especially not that). But you also aren't helpless. So maybe it's time to give the snooze button a rest — and start taking positive, meaningful, corrective actions instead?
Start with these five steps to avoid end-of-year burnout.
1. use our simple diagnostic checklist
First things first: Are you actually experiencing burnout? It's an important question, obviously, so before we move on to burnout-thwarting behaviors, let's run through a simple list of questions to help you find out.
Take a moment to answer these five questions derived from the diagnostic checklist offered by the Mayo Clinic:
- Do you no longer feel a sense of satisfaction after completing work-related tasks?
- Is it difficult for you to get up in the morning for work — to a degree that's noticeably different from your experience in the past?
- Does it seem unusually challenging for you to concentrate when you're at work?
- Have you found yourself inappropriately irritable or impatient with co-workers, clients or customers of late?
- Has your overall productivity flagged recently, without any clear cause?
Answer "yes" to any one of the above and there's a very real possibility that burnout is the culprit. It's probably also worth pointing out that burnout, while not technically a "medical disorder," is classified as a "work-related phenomenon" by the WHO because of its connection to undesirable health outcomes.
Let's look at a few tips to help you avoid symptoms of burnout this year.
2. speak up about your workload
Stress and burnout often go hand in hand. At many companies, the busiest time of the year is also the end of the year. So the connection between having heavier-than-usual workloads and experiencing end-of-the-year burnout is anything but accidental. This is something that happens year after year, pandemic or not.
So start thinking about, say, your last four weeks on the job. Have you felt more under the gun than usual, or been responsible for more work than in the past? If so, this is most likely the reason you're experiencing burnout, and there's one thing you can do about it: speak up.
At minimum, plan to meet with your boss or manager to express your concerns about your workload. Try to think through which scenarios are the most stressful or work-intensive for you — and, possibly, ways of restructuring the workload that might help lighten your burden without unfairly impacting others on your team. If that isn't possible, maybe your manager could bring on temporary workers to help the team during this busy season.
Either way, coming into a meeting like this with a clear blueprint of the problem, together with actionable suggestions for how to solve it, will put you in the best position.
3. address (and end) dysfunctional dynamics
Don't feel like you have sufficient agency at work? Operating day in and day out without clear expectations? Contending with microaggressions, or other forms of hellish behavior, from colleagues?
Any one of the above scenarios would be appropriately bucketed under "dysfunctional workplace dynamics." But it's also worth pointing out that the risks involved — the structural factors surrounding these scenarios — have been recast by the rise of mass remote work in light of the global pandemic.
Take that last one, for example. Studies show that a significantly larger share of Black employees would prefer to continue working remotely than their white counterparts, a phenomenon that has been linked to Black employees' perceived lack of psychological safety in the workplace.
So if dysfunctional workforce dynamics are dampening your spirit and your sense of esprit de corps to the degree that you're worried about burnout, it's definitely time to take action. Reach out to colleagues for advice, be sure to carefully document scenarios in which these dynamics occur and from there, escalate as appropriate.
Unhealthy workforce dynamics shouldn't be a barrier to you doing or feeling your best every day, period.
4. don't overlook the basics
Workforce dynamics aside, bear in mind that there are also a number of factors directly and immediately within your control that frequently contribute to end-of-year burnout. A lot of these might sound obvious — but the extent to which they "go without saying" is precisely why they're worth mentioning.
- Sleep: Fatigue can cause symptoms that are nearly identical to burnout, so make sure you're getting your required nightly allowance of Z's.
- Alcohol: End-of-the-year festivities are often occasions for good-natured drinking, which is totally fine, as long as you can keep it from getting out of control. The woes associated with a bad hangover — cloudy thinking, irritability, lack of energy and so on — are also characteristic of burnout.
- Exercise: Colder wintertime weather often makes it difficult to maintain your daily exercise routine, whether that means going for a jog or playing basketball in the local park. Perhaps that can't be helped, but why not explore other options: say, join a gym, resume yoga, splurge on that Peloton, you name it? After all, getting any kind of aerobic exercise, from cycling to gardening, has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, so it's a surefire way of keeping burnout at bay.
5. visualize your next opportunity
When you're in the put-my-hand-in-a-blender stages of burnout, everything about your current career path — your colleagues, work environment and employer — might all feel cruelly preordained by fate.
In reality, of course, that isn't the case.
Things really aren't utterly hopeless. You really are in control of this situation. And if things really aren't working out at work, perhaps it's time for you to start looking at jobs elsewhere?
Frankly, the simple act of mentally imagining an alternate day-to-day reality, one in which you're in a new role and interacting with new colleagues in a new environment, can do wonders. It's a healthy step toward renewing your outlook for the future.
Sound like the right medicine for you? Randstad is here to help. From digital tools to career advice and resources, learning and development portals and more, you'll find everything you need to live your best life in the year ahead.