8 Ways to Deal with Overwork and Burnout at Work

In today’s world, overworked employees are overwhelmed by chronic transition and uncertainty. They are under-equipped to manage the demands of life and work successfully.

A recent SHERM global survey suggests that employees who work overtime may actually be less productive. The survey of 10,333 workers found that 40% regularly work after hours, often feeling pressure to do so rather than wanting to work longer.

Employees who logged off at the end of the workday reported 20% higher productivity scores compared to those who felt compelled to work late.

Notably, half of all respondents did not take work breaks, and those employees were 1.7 times more likely to experience burnout.

The Problem with Overwork

The findings suggest that employers may need to reevaluate expectations around overtime and encourage workers to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which could lead to greater overall productivity. And ultimately, workers need to recognize the toll on mental health.

Overwork and burnout have a strong interrelationship with mental health. When we’re perpetually overworked, our brains and bodies don’t get the rest and recovery they need.

Chronic stress takes a major toll, impairing our ability to regulate emotions, focus, and think clearly. We become more irritable, less productive, and increasingly prone to mental health challenges.

The solution isn’t simple, as the drivers of overwork—economic pressures, technology, and personal ambition—are deeply embedded in our culture.

However, prioritizing mental health and setting boundaries around work are critical first steps. Cultivating healthy habits like regular breaks, time off, and mental health check-ins can go a long way.

8 Strategies to Deal with Overwork and Burnout

1. Set boundaries and prioritize work-life balance.

Many people are moving to self-employment or a flexible work schedule because they’re reevaluating their priorities as they set boundaries and incorporate more work-life balance.

Be intentional about establishing clear boundaries between your work and personal time. Avoid the temptation to constantly be “on” and make time for rest, relaxation, and activities you enjoy.

2. Practice self-care.

Make sure you get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, and incorporate physical activity into your routine. These basic self-care practices can go a long way in managing stress and preventing burnout.

In my practice, my clients who made self-care a priority are feeling better, and there will be a financial return on that.

3. Take breaks and vacations.

Regular breaks throughout the work day and periodic vacations are essential for recharging. Use your paid time off and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Consider taking mental health days to recharge your batteries and replenish your energy.

4. Seek social support.

Burnout can be isolating, so make time to connect with friends, family, and coworkers. Talking through your struggles can provide much-needed perspective and stress-relief.

Research shows that social support from contacts in your network is significantly and positively associated with salary and promotions, too.

5. Manage your workload.

Be realistic about what you can reasonably accomplish. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate when appropriate. Prioritize your most important responsibilities. Use your calendar to block off time for specific projects.

To avoid interruptions, take advantage of your automatic response to emails. At the end of each day, take a moment to clear your desk and desktop and organize your to-do list for the next day. Managing your workload is an important aspect of self-care.

6. Explore mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help calm your mind and body when you feel overwhelmed, paving the way for creative thinking, problem-solving, focus and concentration, and ethical decision-making.

If your workplace is chaotic, consider approaching management about organizing a committee within your organization to create more of a culture of wellness.

7. Ask for professional help.

If you’re experiencing significant burnout or mental health challenges, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Most employers offer an EAP as part of their benefits package. It is free and confidential to employees and immediate family members, for support with mental health and any other personal challenges in your personal or professional life.

While financial advisors help people manage their money, as a psychotherapist, I help professionals utilize psychological skills to improve their self-worth and emotional intelligence to achieve work-life balance and financial success.

8. Advocate for change at work.

If your workplace culture significantly contributes to your burnout, speak up. While it is a sensitive topic, approach it from a win-win viewpoint.

For example, give your boss some empathy and start the conversation by saying, “I know you have deadlines and realize you have expectations from the top. But I feel overworked and burnt out. Is there a way we can work together so that I can recover and succeed in the workplace?”

Mental health is our most precious resource. By being proactive and making mental health a top priority, you can combat overwork and burnout.

With the right self-care strategies and workplace support, you can reclaim a healthier, more sustainable way of working.

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