Five ways to avoid end-of-year burnout

RMIT University

Wednesday, 06 December, 2023

Five ways to avoid end-of-year burnout

Employees often feel exhausted towards the end of the year, working long hours while social commitments and Christmas tasks expand. However, according to RMIT University’s Asanka Gunasekara (Lecturer, Human Resource Management/People Analytics) and Melissa Wheeler (Senior Lecturer, Business Administration), burnout can easily be avoided if workers take charge of their own wellbeing.

Burnout is the feeling of exhaustion, disengagement, ineffectiveness, cynicism and a sense of moving with no motivation or meaning. It has negative psychological, relational and physical consequences and can be devastating for many if not managed appropriately.

Even though end-of-year burnout could be a result of chronic workplace stress that has not been managed, or something occurring within one’s personal life, it can be difficult to separate the domains of work, family, community and private self.

Here are five tips to help workers take control of their own wellbeing.

Challenge self-victimisation

People sometimes experience and partake in burnout ‘one-upping’ during chats with friends and colleagues. When someone brags about how burnt out they are and how hard/late/long they are working, it perpetuates the need to always seem ‘busy’ or to always be doing more. It also puts pressure on others to compete with these norms. Instead, challenge this bragging or self-victimisation by encouraging friends and colleagues to seek self-care opportunities and a healthy work–life balance.

Take a total leadership approach

This encourages people to value all parts of their lives (not just work). As research has demonstrated, the augmentation of one aspect — such as self-care — creates a spillover effect into other domains, such as work. Employers should also support self-care for the betterment of the employee and business.

Have agency over personal wellbeing

Making a fresh start in 2024 — rather than commencing from a point of deficit — begins with the individual. Take that break, use mindfulness practices and pay attention to feelings. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, spending time outdoors and prioritising sleep can also help manage burnout.

Mind over matter

Be realistic with expectations. It is okay for a person to be ‘good enough’ and not to achieve perfection in everything they do. Accepting personal limits will help individuals readjust their goals and attitude towards life. Stop and celebrate the wins instead of dwelling on what was not completed.

Question that sense of urgency

Urgency has become a norm in the modern world — whether it be to respond to a text message or to complete an urgent job task — often leading to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Enforce a digital detox by unplugging technology over a selected period. This will not only improve an individual’s wellbeing, it will help protect the wellbeing of the people around them as well.

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