In our dream world, many of us would holiday for months at a time. Unfortunately, our reality is far from that fantasy. In the real world, you’ll hear executives brag about never taking time off and see managers feeling downright miserable after requesting a morning off. The stress of organising a trip away and the thoughts of your inbox piling up are all factors for resistance.
But it’s important to take time for yourself – to recharge, reboot and avoid the dreaded burnout.
‘I’m seeing burnout walk in the door of my practise, day-in, day-out,’ says Jane Downes, Performance Coach and Founder of Clearview Coaching Group. ‘For me, burnout is that state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion’.
According to Downes, professional burnout can cause feelings like having little or no control over your work, doing work that’s monotonous, not being proactive and smart in how you tackle your workload, and a lack of recognition or reward for good work.
‘We forget to come up for air and celebrate our successes or the tasks we’ve ticked off our list,’ Downes says.
Burnout in our personal lives can be caused by working too much without enough time for socialising or relaxing, not enough close relationships, and taking on too many responsibilities.
‘We have this epidemic of what we call ‘’presentism’ in the workplace right now due to excessive workloads, deadlines and the pressure to ‘’always be on’’. People are coming to work sick, they’re afraid to take a day off to recharge or reboot, and so, when employees reach their deadlines, they’re underperforming because they’re exhausted,’ Downes explains.
The burn marks to watch out for
Burnout is a state of prolonged, chronic stress and according to Downes, physical signs include ‘headaches, constant colds, infections, body aches, and insomnia’. Signs to watch out for in your workplace behaviour include ‘negativity, disengagement, isolation, lack of empathy of others and their work, and a feeling of lack of optimism in what you’re doing and what you’re succeeding in doing’.
Steps to avoid the burnout
According to Downes, ‘energy management is so important for everyone in their career because tasks are great right now, there’s a lot of pressure no matter what area you’re in. We have to be able to self-manage where we’re at and we have to be able to take control of our energy.’
If we’re going to stave-off burnout and look after ourselves, Downes says ‘Become aware of the triggers for you, become aware of how you’re feeling, build in some form of rewards system for yourself to refuel and reboot, and put some holidays in your diary as a reward for you to refuel and recharge yourself, before relaunching your career again in 2019.’
Guilt-free time off
‘When it comes to taking a break from work, the first thing you need make sure is that you’re actually off. Even though they’re not present in the office, many people remain ‘’on’’ and continue to check their work emails. This must stop. You need to take control and educate others that you’re on leave,’ Downes advises.
‘Do that via email management, set up your out of office so that, mentally, you feel that you are off duty.’
When it comes to the number of days you should take, Downes says it all depends on ‘where you’re at, where your body is at, and what is practically doable’.
‘If we look at the practicals, we’ll probably say ‘’Oh, I can only take two of three days’’ but I’m a firm believer in one week off as a minimum. One week off allows us to get into the swing of just recharging ourselves, it’ll take several days for us just to get our energy back. Take the model of a weekend – a lot of people wake up on a Saturday morning wrecked, by Saturday evening you’re feeling a little better and by Sunday you’re definitely better but then you’re right back into it. You need a week and ideally, a week away. If you can jump on a plane and change the scene, it can really help.
‘However, if you’re not in a financial position to get away, go for a walk, look after yourself, surround yourself with good food and good company, and most importantly have fun, fun, fun!’