Burnout can be simply defined as an unmanaged and untreated pile of chronic stress caused at the workplace.

In the modern age of competition, people are more driven by the pressure of achieving goals and recognition. In doing so, millions of working-class people go through series of stresses and anxieties daily at their workplaces.

Stress in personal life may derive from emotional imbalance, loss of loved ones, being bullied by others, lack of confidence, etc.

Work stress may arise from:

  • excessive workload 
  • poor performance
  • negative coworker relations
  • peer pressure
  • mismatch of values with company
  • financial insecurity
  • unfairness by management 

Inability to deal with such continuous stress may lead up to a certain point when you almost lose your mental capacity to work objectively any longer. Hence you experience burnout.

This article deals with the possible reasons for burnout and how to cope with them to manage your personal and professional lives. 

11 Natural Ways to Cope with Burnout 

Since burnout is not conclusively established and recognized illness in medical science, it has no universally prescribed medication to treat this problem directly [1]. 

Still, doctors, physicians, health experts, or psychiatrists have different suggestions to deal with chronic stress and alleviate their consequences.

Below are some steps you can take to pull yourself together when you are suffering from burnout:

1. Make Changes in the Work Environment

This might sound simple, yet having a physical change in your work environment may give your mood an instant boost to recover your work motivation.

  • You may shift your desk to a different but comfortable place (if that is possible). 
  • Put away all unnecessary stacked files, replace the old and out-of-order stationaries, and sit in a position where more natural light and air can access.
  • Keep necessary stuff accessible nearby such as water, tea, stationaries, internet router, phone charger, etc. so it does not make a fuss in between your work.
  • Make sure you can work in a place where noise is minimal and you can work peacefully. 

Apply these simple changes and you will experience a significant improvement in your work. A suitable work environment can help you manage work stress better. 

2. Take Regular Breaks from Work

Short breaks in work are vital. Taking short and scheduled breaks from work not only relieves you from stress but also it reenergizes your workforce.

If you take regular breaks at the weekends and go out with family or friends, it may help you recover from the past week’s work pressure and boost your mental strength at work. 

You can go for even shorter breaks. There is a popular method called the Pomodoro Technique. This works in the process of 25 minutes of continuous work followed by a 5 minutes break- and the process continues within a specified working hour [2].

Applying the above method may inspire you to reschedule your work and becoming productive gradually.  

3. Say No to Extra Work Responsibilities

Though it is quite impossible to convince in words, you can still show your responsibilities by accomplishing the tasks within your stipulated daily working hour.

You might find it hard to get away from your workload, but you have a responsibility to your health- and that is important too. 

Try to organize your schedule in such a way that you can finish your assigned jobs in time and make time for your personal life also.

Learn to negotiate with your higher authority in terms of extra work responsibilities. You might not be successful 100%, but try to minimize the pressure tactfully as much as possible. 

4. Have Enough Sleep

A well-known mental health trainer and the founder of the Calmer, Tania Diggory, said, “Because we can work anytime doesn’t mean we need to.”

Your body works in its own clock cycle, and sleep is a vital activity that your mind and body oblige to necessarily [3]

Indeed, not every person’s sleep pattern and sleeping hours are the same, but at a certain point, it is mandatory.

Your body requires a sound and undisturbed sleep throughout the night to wake you up in the next morning with a reenergized neural function.

Keep your cell phone away or off, reduce caffeine or nicotine intake, and eat less carbs before going to bed for ensuring a sound sleep.

5. Do Prayers, Exercises, Meditation, or Yoga

Prayer is not like meditation; it is way more effective and beyond explanation. Having faith in a supreme being who can take care of your problems is almost half reducing your chronic stress.

Though it is contradictory in scientific research, regular prayer is reported to alleviate mental torments and gradually develop health physically also [4]. 

You may try out doing physical exercises. Even a light walk for 10 minutes can be a useful exercise. Walking at medium or high speed for 5-10 minutes releases hormones off your body and may open your mind to new opportunities [5].

Meditation and yoga have become very popular, and they are backed by science also for their health benefits [6].

You may make a spare time in a week to practice meditation or yoga to deal with hectic work schedule and pressure.   

6. Schedule Outdoor Playtime

People who make a schedule for outdoor games and actually do so experience much fewer burnout symptoms.

Many top management executives take part in squash, badminton, swimming, horse-riding, etc. in a monthly or weekly schedule. 

There are also examples of those who work continuously on tight schedules but go on hiking for a straight 1-2 months’ timeframe.

If you can manage such outdoor games for you also through your work schedule, you may become better at dealing stress and keep burnout at a distance. 

7. Drink Enough Water 

Keeping your body hydrated is an effective way to fight muscle cramp, which is a consequence of burnout. 

You have to put your daily water-drinking habit in check. Drink at least 8-12 glasses of pure mineral water to keep your body active and fresh.

Water is a major component of our body’s overall function [7].

Chronic stress may dehydrate your body so you should be careful not to let your body go dehydrated due to work stress.

8. Follow Nutritious Diet

Eating green vegetables, protein, and nutritious fruits may keep your mental and physical strength intact. 

When under immense pressure of work stress, your healthy mind and body can support you fighting along the way.

That’s why you should keep your diet healthy and clean. Try to avoid adding extra edible oil or butter to your food, so you don’t develop bad cholesterol in your body.

Avoid fat because if you reach obesity, you may become lazier than ever. You may find it hard to cope with your daily activities that involve active physical movements regarding your work.

If you have a drinking habit, don’t worsen it by increasing the liquor intake when under chronic stress [8]. 

Being drunk will only derive you from your discipline and professionalism. And the worst case could be damaging your organs like kidneys or brain. 

9. Share with Your Family

It is true that you are on your own after a certain time and you need to take your own responsibilities. But as human beings, we are not cut off from our family bonding.

Having a family is valuable and sharing with them your mental or physical ailments are equally important. 

Many working people who stay away from their family feels this urge to see them in times of professional crisis. It may not be a regular practice in the western world to communicate with family during such times, but it surely is effective.

By sharing your stress, you may not have to expect an instant solution from your family member(s), but only sharing sometimes may work wonders. It relieves you from the mental block and encourages you to face your problems upfront. 

10. Meet Your Buddies 

Having a good time with close friends or relatives is a practical tool for releasing stress. 
You don’t necessarily need to have too many friends. It is not about numbers, but having reliable people whom you can trust. Check if your friends are positive and show you the right way.  

It is an excellent way to make light chats, smile, and laugh with your best friends for sometimes to get relieved from work stress. 

Many working people are used to meet their friends after work daily, weekly, or monthly. This, in a way, keeps them sane and active mentally to deal with continuous work pressure.

11. Listening to Music

Ever wondered why many scientists, engineers or mathematicians love music?
The answer is- it releases their mental blocks and gives them peace of mind, even if it is for a short period of time. Many find it a way of taking their minds away from all distractions and focus onto a particular problem [9].

You may take this as a way of keeping your stress from building up and leading you towards burnout. 

It is entirely your choice of selection what type of music you would listen to. But you may favor more of the calming and soothing types of music that would help you relax, rest, and concentrate more.  

When to See a Doctor About Burnout

You should know the difference between stress and burnout to take initiatives accordingly. Here, a doctor or a psychiatrist may help you determining and managing your stress.

There are a few signs of burnout when you can tell you are going through it. If the following symptoms occur, do not delay in seeing a doctor:

  • You feel exhausted and drained off energy almost every day.
  • Your inner motivation becomes empty like you have nothing more to offer to your life as well as your work.
  • You shy away from your own people and keep to yourself.
  • You start hating your job and try to avoid it on most occasions. 
  • You become anxious and feel hopeless about yourself every other day.

Exhaustion, cynicism (self-doubt about professionalism), and feeling of reduced professional capability- these are the three basic clues to determine if you have reached the point of burnout.

You may make a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or at least an annual schedule to pay a visit to your doctor for stress management. 

As you know that prevention is the best cure, keeping your mental and physical health in check will prove beneficial to you.

Consult with your doctor before attempting to take any drug or herbal treatment for managing your work stress. Unsupervised medication or treatment may prove dangerous to your overall health as well as work life. 

Bottom Line 

World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized burnout as “one of the major diseases that afflict today’s employees” in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD). It is declared an occupational health phenomenon. 

Ignoring the possibility of burnout may hamper your life in the long run. It may cause disharmony in work and social lives, loss of appetite, lack of sleep, muscle cramp, type 2 diabetes, digestive problem, and so on. 

Many organizations, including corporates, are taking initiatives to deal with burnout within their workplace.

If you are aware of your progressive mental state during your work life, you may be able to cope with stresses and stay healthy. Remember, your professional success is not different from your personal appreciation, value, and overall health condition.