How to beat the post-holiday blues
By Sue White
As the work year gets into full swing, expectations about our energy levels are high. But according to one expert, feelings of burnout this time of year are quite common.
“People can still feel burnt out after the holidays for several reasons. Over the break they may have still been harbouring workload stress or burnout. Or, they may not have had enough rest during their holiday,” says Amanda Gordon, workplace psychologist at Indeed.
Quitting, even if an option, is not always the answer.
“To make sensible choices about work life balance and to protect against future burnout, you must first recover from the stress responses your body has in play,” says Gordon.
While it’s tempting to use the term ‘burnout’ somewhat flippantly, simply being stressed doesn’t meet the formal definition. Peta Sigley, the co-founder of Springfox, points out the definition of burnout goes beyond exhaustion to include issues like the inability to feel joy, compromised work performance through issues like forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating.
“In reality, burnout is a significant syndrome that has physical impacts. It can lead to higher risk of illness … and can also affect our immune and cognitive function. A few good nights of sleep and a lighter load for a while will not adequately address the symptoms of burnout,” Sigley says.
‘If you are tired and feeling overwhelmed now, it is likely you will remain that way unless you act to make changes.’Workplace psychologist Amanda Gordon
Sigley believes both employers and employees have a role to play in burnout prevention. For employers, creating a psychologically safe work environment goes a long way.
“Employees should be able to speak openly about their experience, whether to their direct managers or their colleagues, without fear of being judged as incompetent or not up to the task,” Sigley says.
Individuals need to become aware of the signs of burnout and learn how to identify them. Those keen to investigate will find help in a 2021 book, Burnout: A guide to identifying burnout and pathways to recovery (Allen & Unwin), by founder of the Black Dog Institute, Gordon Parker.
Gordon from Indeed notes that if someone’s stressors are clearly workplace related, it is vital to act early in the year.
“If you are tired and feeling overwhelmed now, it is likely you will remain that way unless you act to make changes. You may be amazed to discover that your manager had not realised how hard things were for you and is supportive of the changes you want to make,” Gordon says.
If support isn’t forthcoming, Gordon suggests doing what you can to minimise feeling overwhelmed while deciding on your next steps.
“For example, work from home a day a week, block out times in your calendar to allow you to work uninterrupted [and] turn down invitations to irrelevant meetings,” she says.
Sigley points out that many of supports which help prevent burnout, like a good diet, enough sleep, relaxation time and positive relationships, are the same actions that help us recover.
Both experts stress that jumping to a new job without addressing the underlying causes or making lifestyle changes won’t solve the problem.
“You will take burnout with you to a new role so stand firm and sort it out. This is unless the workplace culture is toxic and diminishing you, in which case it would be foolish to remain. Leave a role feeling positive if you can, rather than leaving feeling terrible as you may take these feelings with you,” says Gordon.
- Burnout has a physical impact on both body and mind.
- It’s always better to resolve burnout early on, rather than let things continue.
- Burnout affects both employers and employees
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Source: Thanks smh.com