The American Institute of Stress in New York estimates that job stress and burnout can cost the US economy roughly $300 billion in sick time, long-term disability and excessive job turnover. In fact, roughly half of workers who experience burnout will look for other jobs rather than address the issue.
Finding a new job is stressful in and of itself. If you’re currently experiencing high job stress or job burnout, first look for ways to introduce self care at work. If, after three months of steady self-care, your work conditions don’t improve, consider looking elsewhere. Sometimes, even with the best self-care routine, workplace environments aren’t healthy. The important thing is to take care of yourself.
Give Yourself a Break (Literally)
Virginia Labor Laws do not require employers to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, to workers ages 16 or older. However, federal law does dictate that breaks that last for 20 minutes or less must be paid. Look for ways to incorporate two 15 minute breaks into your day, in addition to your lunch period if you’re given one. Use that time to:
- Go for a quick walk around the building or block
- Choose a quiet space and meditate for at least 5 minutes
- Brew yourself some coffee or tea and rest your eyes from the computer
Studies show that we have a limited capacity for concentrating over extended periods of time. In fact, they actually derail our work.
Of course, check with your employer or your HR department to ensure you are taking your break at the most optimal time for both you and the organization.
Turn Your Emails Off
In our highly connected world, the idea of turning emails off for a period of time seems daunting. The idea of coming back from a break with an inbox full of emails almost makes the idea seem not worth it but, the truth is, only about 12% of emails need to be seen within 5 minutes of being sent (according to a research project led by Duke University). Another 11% could even be left for a few hours without a response.
So, why the urgency?
Take an hour out of your work day to turn off email notifications on your computer and/or phone. You’ll still have the ability to check your email if something crucial comes up, but you won’t constantly be alerted to new emails that could otherwise wait.
The purpose of this is to give your mind a mental break. The average American (50%) checks their smartphone several times an hour and 11% say they check it every few minutes. Studies even show that constantly checking notifications is associated with anxiety and depression, as well as increased experience of stress.
Take Care of Your Workspace
No matter what your overall work environment is like, you still have some control over what your individual workspace is like. In fact, our environment and workspace can have a significant impact on productivity. To clear out your workspace:
- Give your elbows and brain room to do what they need to do
- Keep only the most frequently used items within reach. Stash or store the rest.
- Look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes
Also consider creating a to-do list each day—either digitally or written—to give yourself a sense of accomplishment
Introduce Self-Care into the Workspace
Self-care is more than just a buzzword—it’s a reminder to truly look after yourself and ensure you’re mental and physical health remains strong. Look for ways to introduce self-care into your daily routine both at work and at home.