Raise your hand if you’ve felt burnt out at some point in the past two years. If it feels like a constant stream of meeting invites may never end, the ping of Slack messages come at every hour of the day, and you’re wondering how you ever managed to work out, shower, and get coffee all before 8 a.m….you’re not alone.
The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, one of them being that we are all burned out. A survey of 1,500 U.S. workers in 2021 found that more than half of the respondents were feeling burnt out from job demands. We also know American workers are leaving their jobs at a record rate in what has been called the “great resignation.” Many of those leaving their jobs cite burnout as a contributing factor.
So, what exactly is burnout and what steps can we take to make it less likely?
While not a medical diagnosis, the World Health Organization officially recognized burnout as a work-related phenomenon in 2019. It’s defined as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” and is characterized by three dimensions: “feelings of depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.”
It is important to note that employers are responsible for conditions that drive burnout and if you’re feeling symptoms of burnout make time to talk with your manager. You can also contact your primary care doctor or a mental health professional if symptoms worsen.
4 Lifestyle Changes to Help Make Burnout Less Likely and Increase Focus Throughout the Day
1. Start A Regular Meditation Practice
Meditation has made its way into the mainstream media over the past decade and for good reason. There are countless studies that show how a regular meditation practice can help to increase focus and decrease levels of cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone.
One study found that meditation significantly decreased stress and depression in full time workers. Another from researchers at Carnegie Mellon found a meditation practice focused on mindfulness can improve concentration and decision making. Yet another found that some people can reduce feelings of burnout after just five minutes of daily meditation.
Rachel O'Neill, PhD, a practicing therapist and Director of Clinical Effectiveness for Talkspace, told Insider, "One of the biggest guards against burnout is focusing your awareness on what you're feeling in a moment; the simple act of noticing and bringing awareness to a particular thought or feeling can serve as a powerful guard against the cumulative effect of burnout.”
While creating a daily meditation practice might feel intimidating, start small and work your way up. Try a meditation app or guided playlist and meditate for five minutes three times a week. For an added boost to your meditation practice, Hapbee users can utilize the Relax + Focus Signals to give you the sensation of CBD and nicotine without having to ingest them. Hapbee’s Focus Signal can help clear your mind and focus your muscles and thoughts.
2. Set Reminders to Take Daily Breaks
While working remotely does have its perks (sweatpants, flexible schedules, no crowded commutes) it does make taking breaks throughout the day more challenging. When you’re working from an office, you’re more likely to walk to lunch with coworkers or stand around the coffee maker for a few minutes. It might not seem like much but these daily breaks are an important aspect of combating burnout and increasing your focus and productivity while you are working.
Try setting a few reminders or alarms on your phone throughout the day to remind yourself to get up, stretch, get a glass of water, take a quick walk around the block, anything that will give your mind a few minutes to relax and recharge in between tasks.
Working for long stretches without any reprieve can lead to exhaustion and feelings of burnout. It’s far too easy to shortchange yourself, so pick a few things you can look forward to throughout the day and when the alarm goes off, honor this time for yourself. You’ll likely return to your desk feeling refreshed and ready to focus. You can also try Hapbee’s Alert + Focus Signals to give the sensation of caffeine and nicotine without having to ingest them. Hapbee’s Deep Work routine can be used after a break to help you get in the zone for a sustained period of productivity.
3. Create Work Life Boundaries
Just as it can be difficult to take breaks throughout your day, working remotely has also made establishing clear work-life boundaries challenging, blurring the lines of when you’re on and off the clock. Carving out time for yourself to consciously unplug from work addresses a known cause of burnout: thoughts of work during leisure time. Even if you’re working from your kitchen table most days, create a routine to signal to yourself that the end of the work day has arrived.
Consider giving yourself 15 minutes to do something that brings you joy before going into your nightly activities. This could look like playing with your kids outside, practicing yoga, listening to your favorite podcast or preparing a meal. Whatever activity speaks to you, try to do it every day in that 15 minute period after you finish work. Creating this routine will signal to your brain that the work day is over. Hapbee users can try the Calm Signal to increase feelings of relaxation after a long day at work.
Focusing on creating little rituals for yourself each day will help you feel more balanced and in control of your day and will help to mitigate feelings of burnout.
4. Get 7- 8 Hours of Sleep Each Night
Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just leave you wanting to buy the largest cup of coffee you can find in the morning, but it also plays a key role in contributing to burnout. Adults between the ages of 18-60 should be sleeping at least seven hours each night. If you’re not regularly clocking seven hours, you could be at a higher risk for burnout.
Researchers found that too little sleep was the primary contributor to clinical burnout. While “work demands” and “thoughts of work during leisure time” also added to burnout, they had less of an impact than a lack of sleep.
Thankfully, we can also reduce feelings of fatigue and burnout by prioritizing 7-8 hours of sleep each night. One study found that increasing sleep is the “best predictor of return to work” for those experiencing burnout. When we sleep our brain is able to process new information, consolidate memory, and recharge.
In order to get the recommended 7-8 hours per night, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This helps your body fall into a predictable pattern and can make getting to sleep easier. Also minimize screen time in the 30 minutes before bed as blue light can be disruptive to your melatonin levels.
Using Hapbee to Create the Perfect Sleep Routine
As noted above, sleep plays a critical role in combating feelings of burnout and is a crucial component to overall wellbeing. Hapbee users can utilize Signals that replicate melatonin, adenosine (the sleep hormone), and CBD to help you get restful sleep each night.
You can simply put your Hapbee device under your pillow, select the Signals you’d like to use, and set the timer for how long you want those Signals to play-- anywhere from three minutes to eight hours. Soon, you will also be able to create a routine based off of your favorite Habpee Signals to help you wind down, fall asleep, stay asleep, and ease into the morning. Once you’re awake you can skip your morning cup of coffee by switching to Hapbee’s Alert Signal that mimics the sensation of caffeine.
While burnout can’t be cured by lifestyle changes alone, making tweaks to your everyday routine can make feelings of burnout less likely. Whether it’s trying out a meditation practice, taking regular breaks throughout your day, creating an end of the workday ritual, or making sure you’re getting adequate sleep each night, you’ll be on the right track.
To increase feelings of productivity throughout your workday, try one of Hapbee’s performance Signals. Order Hapbee today and work it into your routine to help you combat burnout!