Tips to Decrease Work Burnout During Summer

 GoodTherapy | Tips to Decrease Work Burnout During SummerBurnout can strike any time of the year, but it’s common for symptoms to set in during the summertime. That’s due to a few factors. Longer days, warmer weather and vacation anticipation mean distraction seeps in more frequently. And seeing friends and family members on social media enjoy time off work doesn’t help.  

Not to mention, it’s only natural that we crave sunlight and warmer temperatures, especially after months of cold weather. When we can’t enjoy summertime to the fullest extent, we tend to feel more constricted, as our days may be largely spent indoors, perhaps behind a computer screen.   

Four ways to prevent burnout this summer 

It may take a little extra planning, but there are a few ways to pre-emptively temper burnout: 

Take breaks 

Scheduling more frequent breaks to get outside and go for a quick walk is always a good reset, but it’s particularly useful when it’s warm and cloudless. It’s no secret that sunshine has immense physical and mental health benefits. Remember, even if you have back-to-back meetings, or you’re working a busy service shift, remember that you don’t need to step away for 30-minute or hour-long stretches of time. In fact, it can be even more beneficial to take shorter but more frequent breaks. In a 2022 National Institute of Health study, “micro-breaks” were shown to reinvigorate employees and stave off fatigue.  

So make sure to take a quick 5-minute lap around the block if that’s all the time you have.  

GoodTherapy | Tips to Decrease Work Burnout During SummerIf the weather outside isn’t favorable, that doesn’t mean you should stay at your desk. Try to find a low-trafficked area in your workspace to do some light stretches or meditate. Be sure to stay off your phone during breaks if possible, especially if your job entails lots of screen time as is. While connecting with a loved one is also beneficial, any dissociative activity that takes you away from a state of mindfulness, such as scrolling social media, can have the opposite effect.  

 

Schedule your days 

As the old adage goes, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’ That’s true across many situations, including how you spend your weekday. Not only are we creatures of habit, but if we don’t have some level of accountability that pushes us to try something new — and perhaps outside our comfort zone — we’re quick to rationalize why we should skip said activity. Even setting an alarm or blocking off time in your calendar to either take a break or knock out a dreaded task you’ve been postponing, is a nudge in the right direction. Such planning provides a mental breather, as ongoing angst over a never-ending to-do list takes up a lot of brain clutter, even more than we realize.  

According to a Kellogg Management School report, try to tackle the harder tasks earlier in the day – which helps with feeling a sense of accomplishment – and be sure to plan around end-of-day fatigue, or any time in the day when you know you’re not as mentally sharp.   

Set Boundaries 

Creating boundaries starts with yourself. Identify your priorities, especially outside work or school — perhaps it’s spending time with your community, or running a volunteer organization. Identifying your “why” helps remind you what boundary-setting will allow you to achieve. It’s often tempting to just say “yes” to a colleague’s last-minute request to hop on a work call at 9 p.m. Remember, your “why” doesn’t have to revolve around a specific activity or person — it can be as broad as wanting to maintain a strong mental health state.  

Then start adjusting your schedule and calendar as needed – block off certain times in your calendar if possible — and if applicable, have a conversation with your boss or colleagues to set expectations about your workload, deadlines, and what you feel are appropriate and inappropriate expectations from employees. While this may seem nerve-wracking in the short term, in the long run, it will save months’ and years’ worth of resentment, frustration, and mental distress. 

You can also speak with a therapist who can help you work through what boundaries will work best for you and how to navigate potentially difficult conversations needed to implement them.  

Get enough sleep 

There’s no shortage of studies touting the indisputable mental and physical benefits of getting enough sleep. After all, adequate sleep has been shown to improve anything from memory to blood pressure. However, burnout symptoms are exacerbated when there is a lack of sleep. Having a consistent nighttime routine – staying off screens at least 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening — can improve not just the quantity of sleep, but the quality as well.  

Why it’s important to recognize work burnout 

 Without proper intervention, burnout metastasizes to the point where you will not be able to perform your role adequately, leaving you vulnerable to sudden resignation, getting let go, or worsening professional or personal relationships. Such scenarios will pile on even more stress, so it’s best to get ahead of the condition before it controls your day-to-day. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is defined as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It’s characterized by feelings of energy depletion, cynicism, and negativity toward one’s job, as well as overall diminished performance.  

Remember — burnout doesn’t improve without making changes, but they don’t have to be sudden, life-altering choices. Learning to have difficult conversations about setting boundaries — and how to handle potentially negative reactions — improving time management skills and even asking for accountability help from loved ones can make a big difference. Summertime can be a particularly challenging time, as the stress of work is also accompanied by the pressure to plan trips and socialize. However, mental health professionals, such as therapists, are well-versed in recognizing burnout and helping individuals make the necessary adjustments in their life.  

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  • Kathleen

    July 10th, 2024 at 9:41 PM

    Great article

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