Do you find yourself exhausted from work these days? You're not the only one.
A recent study by the Families and Work Institute found that more than half of Americans feel overwhelmed or overworked on the job at least some of the time. Unsurprisingly, these same individuals reported loss of sleep, poorer health, and negatively impacted relationships.
All these factors are the perfect storm for burnout, with its accompanying fatigue, anxiety, and depression. If you feel yourself headed in this direction, the good news is that some slight tweaks to your regular routine can help you feel less overwhelmed--and will make you healthier and more productive in the long run.
I spoke with several top executive coaches, and here are some tried and true strategies they suggest for the exhausted entrepreneur, manager, or worker:
1. Set aside time each day to give yourself a mental break.
Our brains were not designed to work nonstop. We need down time to rest and reset. Schedule a specific time each day--even if it's as short as 30 or 60 minutes--not to do work or even think about work. If you get work emails on your phone, put it away in another room. This time away from work will help you feel more balanced on a day-to-day basis.
2. Take up a hobby or activity that you love.
Engaging in a hobby helps improve your mood and outlook on life. Doing something completely different from your job can also stimulate your creativity. You'll be healthier and happier overall, and you'll actually be able to think more clearly when you're on the job.
3. Reserve weekly time with your loved ones.
Spending just a few hours a week of quality time with our significant others, children, and friends can do us--and our relationships--a world of good. In fact, a single positive conversation with our spouses can improve our mood for an entire week. The important thing is to schedule this time to make sure it happens, and to be fully present to your loved ones when you are with them.
4. Delegate the least enjoyable parts of your job to others.
We all have work responsibilities that we enjoy and those that totally drain us. If you are in a leadership position, consider delegating the least favorite parts of your job to someone who will enjoy them more--and will probably be more effective as a result. Otherwise, have a discussion with your supervisor about the best use of your time and skills, or figure out together how to make your responsibilities less exhausting. He or she should want to help you avoid burnout.
5. Plan for at least one vacation during the year.
Compared to our counterparts in other industrialized countries, American workers take very few vacation days. But a true vacation--one uninterrupted by phone calls, emails, or work crises--is essential for giving your mind and body much-needed rest. It will also help you remember that life has far more to offer you than work, and that your identity is made up of more than what you do. Just make sure to be as committed to taking time off as you are to your job.
Looking ahead to a new year is a perfect time to try to establish some new and healthier life patterns. Your future self will no doubt thank you for saving yourself from exhaustion and burnout.