One of the best ways to defeat burnout is to make your job more enjoyable. "That's impossible," you say. Not necessarily. Sometimes you just have to change how you think.
No matter how boring or depressing your job may be at times, you have to find chances to laugh. Laughter breaks the tension of difficult situations. It helps cut the stress you feel and the tension you may be under. The more you laugh, the better you will deal with work, and the less burned out you'll be. Many people aren't aware that stress-related hormones are suppressed by laughter -- so you know what you have to do.
Try to become more social. Talk to people. Find activities to do with coworkers, friends and family members. Feeling connected to others is a great way to reduce stress and burnout.
Many people in my seminars tell me that by the time they get done working for the day, they are often so exhausted that they just want to go home and be left alone. I understand and often feel the same way.
However, a number of studies indicate that adults who have the fewest friendships and are least active socially are most likely to die prematurely. If that's not enough to make you want to get out and have fun, I don't know what is.
Listen to conversations in your workplace. You might notice that a good percentage of discussions are negative. Work on training yourself to see the positive in situations -- see the humor and knock out negative thoughts and conversation. Negativity just makes you feel worse.
Adding fun to your day will help decrease burnout. Here are several simple ideas you can incorporate into your workplace:
- If you have a break room, consider filling it with toys and games. Coloring books will bring you back to your childhood. A puzzle will take your mind off things. Games are fun too.
- If you don't have a break room, get some little toys and games and keep them on your desk. You'll be surprised how many people stop for a moment to play with your Silly Putty, shake a snow globe or put the magnetic beard on the man.
- Consider putting up a bulletin board in a break room or employee lounge. Ask everyone from entry-level employees up to administrators and supervisors to bring in baby pictures. Post the pictures on the board. Everyone will enjoy looking at the photos and laughing at each other. It's fun to guess who's who. It also shows that no matter where anyone is in the hierarchy of the facility, everyone started out as someone's baby.
- Create a stress-free zone for when employees are feeling burned out. It doesn't have to be a big space -- even just a hallway outside a conference room. Consider putting in a hammock or a lounge chair and perhaps an inflatable palm tree and picture of the ocean.
- Schedule activities you enjoy in your day and week. Buy one perfect flower, and keep it in your workspace to view. Take a walk outside during a break. Take a mini visualization vacation and go where you want to go, even if it's only for five minutes.
- Plan a visit to the zoo, the movies, the gym, a spa or a local cafe. Go window-shopping by yourself or with a friend. What's important is having something to look forward to doing after work.
You can't control everything, but you can control what you are able to and forget the rest. You can beat burnout before it beats you. You just have to try.