Job Search & Career Advice

Put Your Mental Health First: Tips and Ideas to Avoid Burnout and Manage Stress

A  2021 American Psychological Association survey stated that nearly 3 in 5 employees said they have experienced the negative impact of work-related stress in the past month. So, what can you do to put your mental health first?

Looming deadlines and stressful meetings are inevitable, but it’s important to learn ways to manage these situations so that your own well-being is not ignored. The minute you give in to the stress and let it consume you, you head closer to burnout and all its negative consequences.  

Burnout is a form of exhaustion that leads you to distance yourself from friends, family and even your career, which could then lead to serious conditions like depression and heart disease. Some signs of burnout include: 

  • Isolation: Unable to socialize, feeling overwhelmed with social situations. 
  • Irritability: Daily tasks and normal stressors like picking up groceries become hard to cope with. 
  • Lowered immune system: Prone to colds, insomnia and mental health illnesses. 
  • Exhaustion: Emotional and physically tired including increased headaches and appetite changes. 

The best way to avoid burnout is to be able to manage your stress. Stressful situations are inevitable but getting to the burnout stage isn’t. Knowing how to manage your stress will be a step in the right direction for your overall mental health. 

9 Helpful Ways to Avoid Burnout and Manage Stress 

Here are some ideas to help you cope with stress better and find out what works for you as a healthy routine. 

1. Focus on self-care 

From coloring to trying a new skincare routine to journaling – explore what is important to you and what will help you relax after a busy day. It’s the little things that bring us joy and keep us feeling refreshed and happy, especially during a stressful time. Exploring self-care tactics opens up an opportunity to discover new ways of keeping us grounded.  

2. Exercise regularly 

One of the most powerful ways to release stress and pent-up energy is to work out! Not only will you feel physically good, but regular exercise also helps to boost your mood and reduce stress. Walking, running, yoga, strength-based workouts and swimming are excellent movements to add to your routine. Try to aim for a 30-minute workout a day, even if you are feeling lazy or upset. And always check with your doctor before you begin a new exercise program. 

3. Follow a good diet 

Besides exercising, following a healthy diet will also boost your mood and keep your energy levels up. Try to reduce your caffeine intake and opt for healthy lunch options full of fiber and protein. 

4. Ask for help

Your loved ones are here for you. It’s a good idea to turn to a trusted friend or family member if you need someone to talk to or hang out with. This is especially important when you feel like you want to isolate yourself. Your loved ones will want to support you and will be there for you through stressful times, so don’t be afraid to reach out when needed. 

5. Reflect on your priorities 

What is important to you? Take the time to reflect on what you would like to prioritize in your life and what you value. Use this time to also plan out activities and your schedule for the day. These quiet moments will help you stay on track and keep you prepared for all the upcoming meetings and plans you have. 

6. Take breaks 

Not only is sitting for extended periods of time unhealthy for your body but it also means you are not taking breaks. Breaks are important to help you re-energize and give your eyes and mind a little rest. Step out to get some fresh air every now and then or even go for a short walk in the sun. You’ll feel so much better and might even cook up some innovative ideas on the way back home. 

7. Try to stay present 

Constantly thinking about the future and what needs to be done can induce anxiety. The same goes for thinking about past situations that might not sit well with you. What you can control are your actions in the present. Focus on what’s going on right now in the moment. You will start to feel less stress and have more joy in the activities you take part in when you’re living in the moment. 

8. Develop a routine 

A good routine will help to ensure you are keeping to healthy working, exercising and eating habits. Whether you work out in the morning or evening, plan out your day so you can focus on your activities accordingly. Take the time to get dressed, cook your meals and unplug at the right time. As we work from home, it’s easy to feel lazy or diverge from keeping a schedule, but it’s important to give yourself some structure. 

9. Promote healthy sleep patterns 

Sleep is so important for your body and mind. As you plan out your routine, focus on going to bed at a decent time. This means avoid drinking caffeine too late in the day and try to keep your phone or other screens away when it’s time for bed. 

Everybody will find joy in different things and develop routines that work for them. Make it a priority to focus on your schedule and maintain a healthy balance between your work and your personal life. It’s okay to ask for help and turn to the people you trust and feel supported by.