Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
How To Manage Stress And Avoid A Total Burnout
Published Jun 26th, 2020 & updated on Mar 20th, 2021
We think about work A LOT. How often do we check our emails? Work on the weekends? Lie awake at night thinking about our ever-growing to-do list?
The answer to all of these questions is probably too often.
When we actually stop working for a minute and think about how our job affects every aspect of our lives, it makes sense that workplace stress is on the rise. A 2019 survey found that more than one third of Canadian employees are more stressed now than they were five years ago.
On top of that, a recent international study found that 30% of workers often or always feel stressed or anxious at work. That’s a lot of stress.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) defines workplace stress as “harmful physical and emotional responses”. According to the CCOHS, these responses can happen if there is a conflict between demands and “the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands”.
In other words, workplace stress is when we can’t keep up with the demands of our job.
There isn’t one single cause of workplace stress because, after all, we all respond differently. Our jobs are also super complex and interconnect with our lives in so many different ways. We’ve got a lot going on.
This workplace stress can build up over time and eventually lead to burnout. Burnout can be defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”.
Although they are connected, there is an important distinction between stress and burnout. Stress usually means too much – too much work, too much exhaustion, etc. Burnout usually means not enough – not enough motivation, not enough hope, etc.
All this talk about stress stressing you out? Us too.
In order to properly manage your stress, it’s important to find the root cause of it. Take some time to reflect on your work life and note any areas that could use improvement. Is your stress being caused by your commute to work, your procrastination, or your increased workload? Each cause will have a different solution. Keep in mind, reflection can be a complex process. Be kind to yourself. (Pssst, if you need a hand, may we suggest the DiveThru app? It’s free to download!)
How To Manage Stress In 7 Steps
Once you’ve figured out the cause of your stress, you can start accessing resources to combat that stress. You may be thinking, “there’s so much information out there, where do I even start?” Don’t worry. At DiveThru, we put our hard hats on and did the heavy lifting for you. Behold, the best suggestions for managing stress in one ultimate stress-management list:
1. Find a happy medium.
Ultimately, life all comes down to balance. Work is a necessary part of life, but it isn’t the only part of life. We need to find a happy medium in order to succeed in all aspects of life. Everybody is different so don’t be afraid to find what balance works for you: it will likely not be 50/50 and it may change over time. If you can find a way to balance your work and personal life, you will be less burnt out and better equipped to handle any stress that may come your way.
2. Take breaks.
When was the last time you took a break? It’s a proven super scientific fact that breaks improve motivation and productivity. We better capitalize on this, folks. When you take a break, try to change up your environment and task completely. A lot of times we simply switch our computer screen with a phone screen, but that doesn’t really count. Get up and go for a walk, stretch, or have a dance party in the bathroom. When you come back, you’ll be ready to focus again.
Tip: use the Pomodoro Technique to schedule 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break time. After 4 rounds, you get to take a longer break as a reward.
3. Talk it out.
Have you tried talking it out? This means leaning on your support system and asking for help when you need it. It also means having open, honest conversations with the people you work with. If you don’t let your co-workers know what’s causing you stress, they may never know. Unless they can read your mind. But we might have a different problem if that’s the case.
4. Rediscover your passion.
Fun fact: when you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you actually create a positive feedback loop that increases your productivity. If you’re feeling unmotivated or disconnected from work, take the opportunity to look inward. Why did you choose this job in the first place? What makes you excited about working? Rediscovering your passion will make work more enjoyable and make everyday tasks less stressful.
5. Schedule time for YOU.
A lot of times we say we’ll do something for ourselves, but we never get around to actually doing it. Schedule it in your planner and place just as much importance on it as you do your work. Because it is just as important. Without that balance, we can become overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out (see point #1). Paint your nails, read a (non-work) book, spend time with your family.
6. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and adequate sleep. You will perform your best at work when you feel your best. We recommend finding physical activities that are fun so that exercising isn’t such a chore. Try to eat regular meals and think about what foods will fuel your body. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good cheesecake, but everything in moderation (at least that’s what my mother says). Finally, make sure you’re getting enough sleep so that you can wake up feeling rested.
7. Explore the tools and resources at your fingertips.
Put pen to paper to help sort through any stress that comes your way. Plus, journaling with DiveThru combines writing and introspection to allow you to really dig into what you’re feeling. Think of DiveThru as your BFF. We’re here to help you take charge of your mental wellbeing.
Check out this playlist of TED talks for even more ideas on how to manage stress.
Our jobs play such a crucial role in our lives and it’s important to recognize the weight that they may carry. Imagine if, instead of thinking and stressing about work, we devoted even half of that time to managing our stress and taking care of our mental health! Wouldn’t that be a win-win?!