Staying Productive and Avoiding Burnout
By Antonietta Marinelli | September 18, 2021
When working and studying from home for prolonged periods of time, the boundaries between work-time, study-time and down-time can become somewhat blurred. It is easy to fall into the pattern of over-working yourself with longer hours of work or studying until the wee hours of the morning. Often when we do this, we are left feeling tired, overwhelmed, and drained which can lead us to feeling ‘burnout’. So, what exactly is ‘burnout’? Burnout is the state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion which occurs when you experience long-term stress (Forbes, 2021).
So, what are some strategies that we can implement to better manage ourselves and potentially combat, if not avoid the negative side effects of burnout?
Structure and Routine
Structure and routine is important to ensure you’re able to have everything organized, physically and mentally. We tend to fall into the state of burnout when we fall off the wagon of prioritising tasks, with then placing our focus on the wrong things which leads to neglecting important responsibilities. To avoid this, it is important to implement a set routine or structure so you can actively move from task to task without getting overworked or overwhelmed.
This isn’t us telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat – we are no nutritionists! However, eating a well-balanced diet not only does wonders for our bodies, but also for our minds. Looking into some research, we found the following foods help with both burnout and emotional stress:
Dark, Leafy Greens This could include spinach or kale! The darker the vegetable, the more likely it is to contain high concentrations of folic acid, which is a nutrient in which helps our body produce serotonin! (Royal, 2021)
Food High In Fibre Research has found that a high-fibre diet may help stress-relieve and anxiety, which are two causes of mental and physical burnout. A few examples of foods which are high in fibre include: Pears, strawberries, carrots and broccoli. (Clapp, 2017).
Disconnecting During Non-Work Hours
Also known as ‘the love hormone’. Oxytocin is the hormone that promotes bonding and trust, and is pinpointed in human bonding, generosity, and establishing trust. Something as simple as spending time with someone you care about can help boost your oxytocin production and increase your building of trust and love. The release of oxytocin has a positive affect on your emotions, and one review of research suggests that it has a positive impact on social behaviors related to relaxation, trust, and overall psychological ability (Longhurst, 2018).
In its simplest form, mindfulness means awareness. Everybody practices mindfulness in one way or another and what may be considered mindfulness to one person, may be different for another. Practicing mindfulness isn’t always easy, but with time it can be. A simple mindfulness practice can be as simple as standing up from your workstation and moving your feet and regathering your thoughts. There are great benefits to practicing mindfulness like a reduce in stress, anxiety and increasing your resilience and emotional intelligence (Crossland-Thackray, 2012). In practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, the brain's ability to repair itself and grow neural connections increases.
And now, it’s up to you! We are the drivers of our bodies and minds and being burnt out is not healthy for either. It is important that we practice ways to try and slow down our system to operate and be productive throughout our day to day lives and to avoid being burnout.
- Clapp, M. 2017. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics and practice vol. 7,4 987. [Accessed 15 September 2021] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/
- Crossland-Thackray, G (2012). Mindfulness at work: what are the benefits? The Guardian. [Accessed 15 September 2021] https://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/mindfulness-at-work-benefits
- Sheppard, S. 2021. The Best Way to Switch Tasks to Avoid Burnout. VeryWellMind. [Accessed 15 September 2021] https://www.verywellmind.com/the-best-way-to-switch-tasks-to-avoid-burnout
- YEC. (2021). How To Avoid Burnout and Stay Productive: Four Ways. Forbes. [Accessed 15 September 2021] https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.116-a160