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Occupational burnout is a real risk for the busy business owner. Wikipedia defines it as, “Characterized by short-term exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, feeling drained, and also may have the dimension of frustration and/or negative emotion and cynical behavior, and as a result reduced professional efficacy.” Can you relate? How can you prevent occupational burnout?

You might pride yourself on how many extra hours you put in each week, but pride can quickly take you to the burnout line. Before you know it, you’ve crossed that line and you’re terrorizing your workers. Okay, maybe it won’t get that bad around the office, but occupational burnout does negatively affect relationships and can unknowingly take you to some ugly places if left unchecked.

More than hurting your relationships, occupational burnout can negatively affect your company’s bottom line. This is ironic because the whole reason you may be working all those extra hours is to make more money. When you’re working so much that you’re essentially running on empty, you’re no longer doing yourself or anybody else any favors, so you might as well stop, take a break, and recharge.

Occupational burnout is similar to an illness that gets worse over time. Like an illness, it can be prevented if you notice the signs early on and take action. Here are five actions you can take to prevent occupational burnout.

  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Be physically active.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Foster a friendly work environment.
  • Shorten your commute.

Take Frequent Breaks
It’s recommended by Inc. that workers take a break every twenty minutes. This may sound a little ridiculous, but that’s only if you’re defining a break to be an extended period of time, like twenty minutes-to-an-hour. Instead, a break can be just a step away from your computer and a lap around the room. A mini-break like this should be enough to reset your mind so you can better focus on your project and not get bogged down by being locked in on the same project for hours on end.

Be Physically Active
You don’t have to become a bodybuilder or run a marathon to avoid office burnout, just some light physical activity will do the trick. It could be doing stretches, simple exercises like jumping jacks, brisk walking, anything that gets your heart pumping so you’re not sedentary at your desk all day long. Even making a switch to a standing desk can significantly boost your energy levels and help stave off occupational burnout. Remember, if you feel good, you’ll work well.

Get Plenty of Rest
No matter how much caffeine you pump yourself full of, you have to succumb to sleep sometime. It may seem like you’re getting a lot done by forsaking sleep, but the reality of running on too little rest is that the quality of your work suffers (as well as your immune system). Additionally, not having enough sleep means you will crash hard and have a night or a weekend where you oversleep, which totally cancels out your marathon effort of not sleeping. It’s better to discipline your schedule and get regular sleep every night.

Foster a Friendly Work Environment
A burned out worker is irritable and more susceptible to lash out at co-workers. This causes a chain reaction where everybody is on each other’s nerves, creating a toxic work environment. As the business owner, you set the culture for your company. If you’re emotionally healthy and not at risk of burnout, you’ll find it much easier to treat your employees well and the quality of their work will improve.

Shorten Your Commute
Studies show that shorter commutes equate to a happier work experience. One reason for this is because of the stress that accompanies the commuting experience. Fighting traffic (not to mention the weather) and pushing yourself not to be late can really chip away at your positive outlook and lead to occupational burnout. Taking steps to shorten your commute and spend less time on the road will reduce your chance of burning out and doing something extreme, like road rage. Remember, the shortest commute is no commute; working from home is a great way to prevent office burnout.

While it’s normal to have a bad day and experience stress, it’s another thing entirely to reach the point of occupational burnout. Taking these five proactive measures will be good for your physical and emotional health, which will help keep things cool, calm, collected, and productive around the office.

What are some preventative measures you take to avoid occupational burnout? Share them with us in the comments.