People of various professions experience the effects of workplace stress and burnout, especially in today’s fast-paced and demanding work environment. Such a setup leads to employees dealing with the increasing pressure to meet deadlines, perform well, and balance their personal and professional lives — a strain that can eventually result in chronic stress and burnout.
Aside from this pressure, workplace stress and burnout also arise from other causes such as excessive workload, lack of employee independence, toxic office environment, and insufficient growth opportunities.
Leaving these problems unmanaged fosters negative effects not only on an individual’s mental and physical health, but also on their job performance and relations with their colleagues and superiors at work.
This blog will discuss the causes of workplace stress and burnout in greater detail and explore effective strategies for managing these challenges. The tips and techniques presented here can help you improve your mental health to enhance your productivity and development at work.
Causes of Workplace Stress and Burnout
Stress and burnout in the workplace can be caused by a multitude of factors that vary from person to person. Some of them may be rooted in the nature of the job, while others may stem from external pressures.
Knowing and understanding the underlying causes of stress and burnout are the key to creating effective coping strategies.
Excessive workload and unrealistic job expectations
It’s no surprise that the most common causes of workplace stress and burnout are unmanageable workloads and unreasonable job expectations. Employees become overwhelmed when they are given too much work than what they can actually handle.
They feel the same when managers give them tasks that are beyond the employees’ responsibilities and capabilities.
This pressure then leads to emotional exhaustion and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment — both of which are key components of burnout. Chronic fatigue can also stem from the stress that these factors bring about, considering that employees will struggle to keep up with their workload and other expectations while trying to strike a healthy work-life balance.
Low job control and lack of independence
Another set of factors that contribute to stress and burnout at work is low job control and lack of employee independence. Having little to no control over their work, whether it’s about their shift schedule or the number of assigned tasks, makes employees feel powerless and undervalued.
Because of this, they’ll likely lose motivation and feel a sense of disengagement that can result in decreased job performance and satisfaction. The perception of not being trusted or valued by their employers can also lead to feelings of stress and burnout.
Absence of career development and job security
Another factor that will make employees stress and burnout, as well as lose their motivation, is the lack of opportunities for growth and advancement. Feeling stuck in their roles with no prospects for career development also decreases their sense of purpose and results in feelings of frustration.
These feelings are further amplified if employees feel insecure about their position or do not have a stable income. Lack of job security leads to stress and anxiety as employees worry about whether or not they will still have a source of income that will help them get by in the future.
Toxic work environment and unfair treatment
Employees will not always get along with each other or their bosses. Workplace disagreements can lead to tension, dramatic situations, and dysfunctional behaviors — all of which can affect decision-making and performance both as teams and individuals.
Such instances can also result in unfair treatment in which employees feel that they are maltreated or even isolated by their colleagues and/or superiors. This can negatively impact their mental health and make them experience feelings of anger, frustration, stress, and resentment.
Dealing with Workplace Stress and Burnout
Managing workplace stress and burnout can be a challenge, but there are strategies that employees can undertake to help them handle these feelings. These techniques will also support them in improving their mental health and overall well-being.
Identify and understand the causes of your stress
The first step to developing effective coping strategies to stress and burnout is by determining the causes and understanding how they affect the individual. Getting to the root of these negative feelings enables them to create specific solutions to address the issues.
This understanding also enables employees to recognize warning signs and symptoms of burnout, which then allows them to take proactive measures in preventing this type of fatigue.
What’s more, professionals can gain a better sense of control over their situation once they determine why they are feeling stressed and burnt out. It can help them reduce feelings of helplessness and empowers them to take action for their well-being.
Set boundaries and mentally detach from work
Part of creating a healthy work-life balance is setting a clear and firm boundary between one’s work and personal life. Doing so enables working individuals to easily detach themselves from their office responsibilities.
Establishing and sticking to specific work hours is one way an employee can set boundaries. This strategy prevents their work from overlapping or taking over their personal time. It also ensures that workers have ample time to recharge and come back to work with renewed energy.
Being able to mentally detach themselves from their job responsibilities is another positive result of setting boundaries. This effect allows them to focus on relaxing activities such as spending time with loved ones and pursuing their hobbies.
Additionally, stepping away from work gives employees the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on work-related challenges. This improved outlook can stimulate creativity and help them better manage stressors in the workplace.
Rearrange the workspace
Seeing a cluttered or disorganized workspace can distract employees from doing important tasks and add to the feelings of being overwhelmed, both of which cause spikes in stress levels.
Cleaning up and reorganizing the workspace enables working individuals to create a more peaceful and productive environment. This setting allows them to focus on their work and reduce feelings of stress.
In addition to reorganizing their workspace, incorporating a standing desk can be a beneficial strategy for reducing employee stress and burnout. Sitting for extended periods can lead to a range of negative health outcomes, including increased stress and decreased energy levels.
Switching to a standing desk can reduce the amount of time spent sitting and promote better posture. It can also increase energy levels and minimize the feeling of tiredness.
Start a regular exercise routine
Exercise is known to have physical and mental health benefits, and this includes its capacity to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase one’s energy levels. Engaging in physical activities enables the body to produce feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins.
These chemical signals help ease stress and anxiety, which supports employees in better managing the demands of their job and the stressful situations that come with them. Exercising can also serve as a break from unending work-related tasks, which empowers individuals to clear their minds and recharge their energy levels.
Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques
Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques allows employees to put their focus on the moment and let go of distractions and worries — empowering them to free themselves of stress and anxiety.
This strategy can also help working individuals develop a greater sense of awareness of their thoughts and emotions. Such growth enables them to react better during stressful situations.
Some techniques mindfulness and relaxation techniques include:
- Mindful breathing – reduces stress by focusing on one’s breathing for a few minutes.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – releases tension and promotes relaxation by tensing each muscle group in the body individually.
- Yoga – is another way to remove physical tension and relax the mind while also improving flexibility and range of motion.
- Guided imagery – the process of shifting one’s focus away from work-related stressors by visualizing a location that brings them peace and happiness.
- Mindful walking – focuses on the sensation of walking and feeling the environment around to clear the mind and reduce stress.
Incorporating these techniques into their daily routine allows working individuals to establish a sense of structure and stability. This foundation can aid in reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed that leads to burnout.
Seek professional help
Not everyone can manage their stress and burnout on their own, and confiding in other people can be just as difficult. However, bearing this burden alone can do greater damage to one’s overall health.
Seeking help from mental health professionals such as therapists or counselors can provide employees with a safe and supportive space for them to process their feelings and experiences.
It also allows them to identify and address underlying psychological issues that contribute to their stress and burnout. Through this process, they will learn to develop strategies and coping skills for managing these issues and building their resilience.
Moreover, asking for help from colleagues and superiors helps employees in dealing with these negative feelings in the workplace. It also normalizes conversations about office struggles and vulnerabilities, which eventually leads to establishing a psychologically safe space for such discussions.
Workplace stress and burnout can lead to serious negative effects on employees’ mental and physical health, which subsequently cause issues with their job performance and satisfaction.
That’s why it’s important to determine and understand the roots of their stress to create strategies that will address these problems properly. The techniques outlined above are some of the things that professionals can undertake to manage their stress and build resilience in the face of workplace demands.
Each of these strategies delivers a unique approach to stress management and can be adjusted to fit the needs and preferences of each person. Prioritizing their well-being and taking steps in dealing with workplace stress and burnout empower employees to thrive in their personal and professional endeavors and improve their overall quality of life.