April is Stress Awareness Month, which aims to increase the public’s awareness of the causes of stress and what can occur as a result, including work burnout.
Work burnout is a type of work-related stress that often occurs as a result of increased work pressure or workaholism which leads to physical and emotional exhaustion.
With this in mind, Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Advisory Board Member at Delamere, shares some tips on how to switch off from work and what managers can do to prevent employees from feeling burnout.
Switch off all notifications
If you have notifications going to your phone consistently throughout the day including work emails, Slack or Microsoft Teams, make sure to switch the pop-ups off while you are taking a much-needed break.
Having the temptation to check emails constantly while you are off makes it harder to fully disconnect from your work life when you are trying to catch up with friends and family. If switching off notifications doesn’t work for you, it might be an idea to delete any work-related apps to stop you from checking in on what’s going on while you are off.
Tackle your to-do list
For those that work full time, the chances are you have a long list of life admin that is patiently waiting in the corner for you until you have time to look at it.
Annual leave can be the perfect time to tackle your to-do list that has been piling up, so start with the things that are the most important and have been sitting for a few more weeks than you like. Not only will you feel like you’ve checked off a few things that you’ve been meaning to do, but you’ll also be able to distract yourself from work.
Draw a line under anything you’ve been working on
Sometimes the best way to forget about work in your personal time is to draw a line under anything you have been working on.
This means not leaving any pieces of work half-finished and making sure you are on top of your inbox before you clock off. Having everything boxed off will not only reduce anxiety while you are trying to relax but will also mean you come back to work feeling like it’s manageable.
Set up an out of office
An easy way to switch off from work is to set up an out of office on your email address. This will let managers and anybody who usually tries to contact you know that you won’t be checking your inbox while on annual leave or late into the evening.
Once this is set up, assure yourself that people will see your out of the office and stick to it, so you don’t feel that you need to keep checking your emails.
If you are planning on taking annual leave, then it’s important that you manage the expectations of your managers, clients and staff, by telling them as early as possible when you intend to be out of the office.
To fully switch off, it is also important that you manage the expectations of your family and friends as well as work colleagues that might contribute to your work life. If you find it difficult to take time away from your job, remind loved ones that you are trying to relax and any talk of work might make you stressed.
How to manage to switch off from work and why burnout can affect our health
We asked Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Advisory Board Member at Delamere, how individuals struggling with a commitment to work, can deal with the symptoms of work burnout and how to avoid feeling overworked:
What can you do to switch off if you struggle to put down your laptop?
Professor Sir Cary Cooper, says: ‘If the last 20 months have taught us anything, it’s that we should be taking time to properly relax with our loved ones. People are now working harder and longer hours than ever before and should use their personal time as a way to disconnect from corporate life.
‘This means if you have emails or messages coming to your phone, switch them off so that you aren’t distracted or thinking about work when you should be relaxing. Having the temptation to look at work emails while off can mean you end up going back to work feeling drained because you didn’t fully disconnect.’
What can employers do if they are concerned about a burnt-out staff member?
‘If you are concerned that a member of staff is falling victim to burnout, there are a few telltale symptoms that you can look out for including acting withdrawn, looking physically exhausted, as well as over-using substances like alcohol or drugs or using work as a form of escape.
‘To help keep work burnout to a minimum, managers should not send any kind of email outside of working hours. For those that might struggle with addiction to their job, receiving an email like this could cause the person to start working again when they should be resting.
‘Countries including France and Portugal have recently brought in legislation that bans managers and employers from doing so, while some companies will choose to shut down the server altogether.’