Burnout and how it affects our sleep
Its official - too much work and play is making us sick and tired – literally.
‘I feel so burnt out.’ A statement that surely all of us have uttered a few times in our lives. Work keeps piling up, technology makes us frantically try to live our best lives, we want to travel and do All The Things, and tend to even make exercise a competitive activity (thanks to apps like Strava where we can track our progress and speed and compare this to friends). We spend so much time on work and what we think we should do, and not enough time on what we love doing (a study found that the amount of time spent on what makes us happy is as little as 3%).
Microsoft recently released findings that suggest the ‘always on’ culture at work is now affecting our personal lives in a big way, too. And our sleep.
If you’ve not heard of always on culture, you’ve probably experienced it. The term refers to the idea that we’re now always available: because our email is on our phones, we don’t leave it behind in the office. Instead, we spend the hours outside of work replying to queries, making plans and even taking calls (anyone else pull their phone into bed as soon as they wake up to check their mails)? And because we feel like we need to be plugged in all the time to catch that work email when it comes in, we stay plugged in and chained to our phones when the time comes to kick up your heels, relax and get some rest.
As you might expect, this phenomenon is taking its toll. The Microsoft survey saw 86% of respondents saying they had “issues switching off”, and 80% saying they’d had trouble sleeping because of anxiety around their work and availability.
So how can you tackle this problem of burn-out?
- Chat to your boss about looking at a flexible working schedule – if you find that you can flourish with flexibility around where and when to work, make that your new MO.
- Sleep enough by prioritising the act. Some companies are cottoning on to the importance of a good night’s shut-eye for the optimal performance of their staff (the company Dreams has now launched a ‘Sleep Action Plan’ within its own company - which includes sleep health training for managers, conversations about sleep to be introduced as part of annual reviews, access to a sleep helpline and sleep trackers being provided to staff to help them understand their sleep patterns) but it’s still your responsibility to ensure you practice good sleep hygiene and set enough time aside at night to have a solid sleep window available.
- Put your phone away for the first hour after you wake up and for the last hour of the day before you go to bed. It will help with your sleep, your mental health, your anxiety levels and having less FOMO.
- Limit your exposure to social media and unfollow people that make you feel like you need to push yourself more to feel better and more accomplished. Stick with folks that inspire you in a non-competitive way.
- Speak to your boss about setting boundaries – and then go home at that time, with self-care in mind. Once done with work, exercise, cook good food, watch a series that entertains and relaxes you, hang out with family and friends, have a pamper session and / or read a good book.
Here's to a balanced and not in the slightest bit burnt out 2020!
Written by Nina Clark