So take a vacation, dammit. Now that the world is opening up again, consider heading for the beach, the mountains, Disney, whatever.
You’re not doing yourself or your career any favors by working extra hours or responding to e-mails and Slack on demand either, with experts saying that American workers are in danger of becoming burnt out.
“There’s a huge pandemic of emotional exhaustion,” said Elora Voyles Ph.D., a “people scientist” at TinyPulse, an employee engagement software company on a mission to create happier employees.
A survey conducted by the company found that more than 93 percent of human resources managers said they were concerned about their employees.
Once you reach burnout, your productivity, performance and even the quality of your work suffers. You are also less likely to be promoted, get a big raise, or be assigned a career-making project. Never mind that your physical and mental health are at risk.“
Burnout disrupts your central nervous system. It takes a long time to recover and become productive again,” said Cait Donovan, author of “The Bouncebackability Factor.”
That’s why Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser won’t let her team videoconference on Fridays, and working outside office hours will more likely earn you demerits rather than gold stars.
“When our work regularly spills over into nights, early mornings and weekends, it can prevent us from recharging fully, and that isn’t good for you nor, ultimately, for Citi,” Fraser said in a March memo to employees.
Peter Shankman, a serial entrepreneur, author and popular keynote speaker, came to the realization that his job was killing him.
“Hustle, hustle, hustle. I couldn’t function like that anymore,” said the Midtown resident. “If a girl treated me the way I treated myself, I would leave her,” he said. “The longest relationship we have is with our body. We have to take care of it.”
Wedding photographer Keri Calabrese said she didn’t know what burnout meant until the New York area went on lockdown last spring.“
Before COVID, self-care for me meant squeezing in an occasional shower,” said the Bridgewater, NJ resident. The working mom of two young kids used to spend most weekends working hard. “It was really easy to ignore the signs my body was giving me and just push through, then crash all week,” she said.
This is the sort of thing that Chester Elton, co-author of “Anxiety at Work” (Harper Business) knows a lot about. “Many people favor work at the expense of sleep, eating right and relaxing,” he said, pointing out that that’s what he and co-author Adrian Gostick discovered while conducting research for their book. He suggests adding stress-reducing runs, meditation, gratitude journaling and massages.
But it’s not only white-collar workers that need to improve self-care. David Jaffe, vice president of construction liability at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said that it’s critical for manual workers, too. The NAHB has recently launched an awareness campaign with information and education specifically tailored to construction workers, managers, developers and business owners.
“The goal is to create awareness that there are options beyond toughing out,” he said.
Overworking might not even be good for your wallet, according to Elton.
“We often confuse hours with productivity. Working longer and worrying about your job are some of the factors that create stress and anxiety. By the time you reach burnout, your brain has shut down, things take longer to do, and you are completely overwhelmed,” he said.
HOW TO MINIMIZE ANXIETY AND STRESS
Look after yourself
Every expert agreed. “Give yourself as much appreciation as you give your job,” said Shankman. “That’s the more important relationship and it’s with you your entire lifetime.”
Get your Z’s
Shankman hits the hay at around 8:45 p.m. in a pitch-dark room. Almost seven hours later, at 3:30 a.m., the lights in his bedroom start coming on, simulating a sunrise so that waking up is natural, not alarming. “An alarm doesn’t respect your REM cycle,” he said.
Give your anxieties a name
Clif Smith, author of “Mindfulness Without the Bells and Beads” (Wiley) uses “catch and release” to get rid of unhelpful internal dialogue. “If I can name it, I don’t have to get lost in it,” he said.
Make sure you are treated well
Resentment is a big stressor. If you feel like your work doesn’t matter, you’re not being paid fairly, or that your values are mismatched with your company or boss, “it’s time for a conversation,” said Donovan.
Think about it tomorrow
Most things really can be dealt with later, especially on weekends, and after 5 p.m., said Elton. “Too often they come at the expense of eating right, exercising, sleeping and spending time with family and friends. Take time to reset,” he said.
Breathe from your heart
Sit in a chair, breathe slowly, imagine every inhale and exhale coming from your heart. “Do it for two to three minutes,” said Donovan.
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