Interacting with an unhappy coworker or working in a stressful environment can have a huge impact on your mindset and overall health, as well as your job. Even if you don’t consider your workplace to be particularly ‘toxic’, living through zoom meetings each day can make you feel ‘on call’, which can leave you feeling less motivated – if not downright exhausted.
Even after the upheaval of the last two years, our feelings of burnout don’t seem to have diminished: a new joint report from YouGov and the University of Melbourne surveying 1400 Australian workers found that around half feel burned out and in poorer physical and mental health. It also found that nearly a third under 54 are considering quitting.
If this sounds like you and you’re contemplating how to make your work situation more positive, your ability to be resilient and think critically can be hampered – which is why it’s important to take stock of the factors within your control. Constant burnout and stress can lead to negative reactions and habits, so consider these elements if you’re having a difficult time.
Common signs of workplace fatigue, burnout and stress can include:
- Feelings of exhaustion
- Irritability and anxiety
- Low mood
- Physical symptoms, like headaches or muscle tension
- Reduced performed and productivity.
DIY Detox tips for employees
Consider what is and isn’t working: If you’re biting off more than you can chew work-wise, it may be an idea to discuss these issues with managers and colleagues constructively to find a solution. If you’re doing too much at once, remember to be realistic: work within your limitations and take time for yourself.
Pay attention to your health: Poor physical and mental health concerns can creep into every aspect of our lives. Similarly, a poor work/life balance leaves less time to eat healthily, get enough sleep and exercise regularly – which only serves to make your working life harder. If you have a chronic physical or mental health concern, speak to your team about suitable accommodations or working arrangements.
Look at your work environment: Does your workspace allow you to connect with others face to face, and not just digitally? Many of us find remote working helpful, but the downside to this can be more time spent online, working. Taking breaks, making appropriate changes to working arrangements and taking time off (if needed) can help you stay positive and productive in the long term.
Find ways to manage your stress: We all have stress from time to time, but constant stress has been proven to contribute to feelings of anxiety, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Aim to identify when you feel stressed and which triggers are making it worse.
Mind your mindset: Your beliefs, attitudes and level of resilience in tough situations can determine how happy you are at work. This is not about ‘staying positive’ – rather, you can find ways to support yourself by asking for help, practising self-awareness and identifying areas for change.
Building resilience in the face of challenges at work isn’t easy – it can take time to really examine what needs to change, or even to broach the subject with others. While work can add value to your life, a sense of purpose and even rewards, achieving a good balance across all areas of our lives is equally important to your health and success.
DIY detox tips for managers
Discovering what makes employees unhappy is the key to creating a better work environment. If an employee feels stressed they can enter the fight or flight response as part of their survival mode, which can have an impact on their mental health, and sometimes on the mental health of those around them.
Determine the cause: Investigate the reasons for an employee’s change – could it be health related, or are there external factors involved? Uncovering the reason for such behaviour will help you find the appropriate solution.
Intervene: If an employee is struggling, assistance should be made available. Similarly, if an employee shows toxic behaviours like bullying, the employee should be informed that their behaviour is unacceptable – whether they’re aware of it or not. Present clear information about the company’s expectations and the consequences of continuing with such behaviour.
Treat and rehabilitate: Employees should be properly counselled and given sufficient time and opportunity to make changes. This increases the likelihood of achieving better results by involving them in the problem-solving process. Leaders and managers should lead the way to help guide employees to be professional and valuable assets to the team. However, the responsibility lies with the employee to correct their behaviour when pointed out.
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