Most jobs include some degree of mild stress, either from ongoing projects, tight deadlines, or troublesome customers. This is normal and expected in the workplace and is usually not cause for alarm. The problem, however, is when normal workplace stress evolves into mental exhaustion.
Mental burnout can cause physical pain, depression, and an overall feeling of helplessness. Identifying and targeting the source of mental exhaustion and burnout is critical to being able to cope with work demands.
What is Mental Exhaustion in the Workplace?
Exhaustion, disengagement, and poor performance are usually telltale signs that you’re suffering from mental exhaustion or burnout.
Employees who are often exhausted miss work, come in late, or leave early to alleviate the suffering. They may practice mental escapism, finding themselves distracted with thoughts of leaving the workplace and going away, quitting the job, or walking away from their current lives.
Disengagement in the workplace often takes the form of apathy. People who are disengaged simply don’t care anymore. They don’t care about getting promotions, being liked by coworkers, or pleasing clients. They’re simply a body in a chair.
Finally, poor performance follows. Employees who are disengaged and are missing work often find themselves struggling to keep up with their workload. When workers are distracted, mistakes follow. Mental exhaustion at work can lead to a downward spiral that can deeply impact your work life.
Ways to Reduce Mental Exhaustion
1. Go on Vacation
Vacation days are there for a reason. Use them! Take a trip to a sunny tropical beach. Have a mental health day and spend the day at home watching your favorite shows. It could mean spending a day or two doing absolutely nothing at all.
The key here is that you step out of the stressful situation, do something you enjoy, and re-start again later. Make it an actual break. Don’t take work calls or answer emails during this time.
Exercise can do wonders for your brain when you’re suffering from mental exhaustion. It releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that your brain needs to make you feel refreshed.
Furthermore, workouts can help mitigate some of the stress that you may be feeling at work. It could help you make better food choices, too, which will lead to overall better health.
3. Eat Well
Eating well serves several beneficial purposes when it comes to helping you deal with mental burnout. First, it keeps you healthy and energized. Second, it helps you to deal with stressors better by giving you the physical energy you need to tackle your day.
By combining good eating with exercise, you can go a long way in combating mental burnout at work.
4. Engage Your Brain
Sometimes mental burnout is the result of doing mindless tasks day after day. If your job is not particularly intellectually stimulating, you may be at risk of burnout.
Spend your time outside of work, engaging in activities that get your creative juices flowing. Engage in your non-work related hobbies or learn a new skill. Consider taking courses in subjects that interest you.
The key is to do something that keeps your brain engaged in fighting burnout.
5. Eliminate Stressors
While it’s impossible to eliminate every stressor in the workplace, there are ways to limit the number of things that stress you out.
If you find that certain coworkers add to your stress, try to avoid social, non-work interaction with them. Is your commute adding to your stress, try to find alternate routes, leave earlier, or ask to come in later to avoid rush hour traffic.
6. Lighten Your Load
Delegate and take some tasks off of your plate. Are you in the position to re-assign some of your responsibilities? If not, it might be a good idea to reach out to a supervisor or your boss to talk about your workload.
Having to do it all yourself may be adding to your feelings of mental burnout and exhaustion.
7. Get Enough Sleep
The brain does not operate well without enough sleep. If you’re sleeping late and waking up too early, this could be contributing to your stress levels.
Set a reminder on your phone if you have to, but make sure you get enough sleep.
8. Reframe Your Thoughts
Sometimes the key to fighting mental exhaustion is to reframe the way you think about your situation. Perhaps the mental stress you are feeling is temporary, and there is relief on the horizon.
Maybe the additional work allows you to earn extra money that you need for your life. Perhaps your hard work is preparing you for a better position. Try curbing the negative thoughts to relieve some of the stress.
9. Eliminate Negative People
Negative people can drag you down and send you spiraling into exhaustion. If there are people who are causing you undue stress, eliminate them from your circle of influence. Often it is coworkers who make your work life harder, so try to minimize your exposure to them.
Mental exhaustion at work is real. By employing a few techniques to cut down on the stress, you will be well on your way to mental clarity and happiness sooner than you think.