Updated: Nov 19, 2021
There are many things that lead to burnout but long term relentless stress is definitely the main contributor.
During the Covid19 pandemic, incidents of burnout have increased which is partly due to people working longer hours while working from home and in addition being under even more stress than normal.
So, what can you do to ward off burnout?
One of the simplest and easiest things do is to take more breaks. Not only will this improve your mental health and reduce the chance of heading for burnout, but you are also going to improve your productivity, i.e. getting more done because regular breaks will improve your focus. This in turn means you can work fewer hours which will help you prevent burnout even further.
A study by Owl Labs in 2020 showed that people working from home worked on average 26 hours per month more, that is nearly an extra day every week. Even though working from home has many benefits, it does something strange to our thinking. We feel guilty for taking breaks when we feel we should be working so we often don’t and just power through.
Unfortunately, not taking breaks is not saving you time in the long run. Instead, your productivity drops as your brain gets more and more exhausted causing you to slow down, lose focus and make more and more mistakes.
The good news is that your breaks don’t need to be long to be beneficial. Switching off for just a few minutes can make a massive difference to how you feel and to your ability to concentrate for longer.
Overall, you’ll need a good mix of longer and shorter breaks for optimum benefit. This includes having a proper lunch break, a good night’s rest with a relaxing evening, weekends and holidays to completely unplug and refresh.
How to make the most of your breaks
Book your breaks into your diary. This makes you more likely to actually stick to them. Also, make a note of what you’re going to do in your break such as go for a walk or read a book for a bit. It should be something that takes you away from your desk and your computer. Don’t use it to check emails or social media, as that is clearly not a break from work.
Most people cannot successfully concentrate for more than 90 minutes at a time, which is how often you’ll need a mini break. You’ll notice that you need a break when the mind starts to wonder, you’re starting to procrastinate or you’re making more mistakes.
You wouldn’t keep driving your car if your motor starts to overheat. You’d take a break to let it cool down. Don’t treat your body worse than you would your car!
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