[Employee] What Off-season? 5 Ways To Avoid Burnout

Man sitting near the cow barn in a dairy farm

If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not sleeping well, you’ve lost focus, have a short fuse or your emotions are all over the place, chances are you’re experiencing “burnout”.

Burnout occurs when you don’t have any down-time between periods of stress and high activity. Often people think the harder they work, the more productive they are, so they move from one intense period of work into the next without a break. But the reality is that those lower activity, lower-stress periods between intense periods have an immeasurable benefit.

When you are relaxed, you are at your most creative and your mind is clear – which means you’re able to solve problems more effectively. When you let your batteries recharge, you’ll feel energised, focused on your goals and connected with your work and colleagues.

To help you avoid burnout, we’ve researched some of the top ways successful employees ensure they stay on top of stress.

1. Ask for a Plan

If you’re operating without a plan or schedule each week, then you’re on your way to burning out. It can be incredibly frustrating having to ask for clarification on the order of events, or bothering managers and bosses for their opinion or instructions. If your manager or boss is operating with a plan that no-one else can see (i.e., it’s written in their head), ask them to provide a written schedule that all the staff can see.

If you have a clear understanding of their short term and long term plans for the season, and a visible plan and schedule, you will all have a clear idea of how each day will roughly play out. An organised schedule means you will be far more productive, so don’t be afraid to ask your boss for one!

In the longer-term plan your boss should state overall goals for the season, and in the weekly schedule they may include daily tasks, maintenance and future improvements. Also request a weekly ten-minute catch up with the team, so you have a chance to explain any issues, hiccups, successes and concerns, so that these can then be added into the schedule.

2. Address the top two Issues

Sometimes the number of issues at work is simply overwhelming – especially during the busy season. If that’s the case for you, then you need to abandon the idea that you will be able to address all of them at the current time. If you simply prioritise your top two issues – whether that’s equipment failure, animal health issues, or having enough time to recuperate each week – you will be on your way to relieving the bulk of your stress.

If you then make a conscious decision to “park” the other issues until things are less busy, you will allow yourself the headspace to get through the busy period without feeling overwhelmed by stress.

3. Self-Care

We’ve all heard about self-care and its importance in maintaining a good mental equilibrium. However, self-care means something different for everyone. Before you go adding in a whole lot of leisure activities to your schedule, consider the basic cornerstones of self-care: exercise, food and sleep.

If you are on top of these three things, you will feel more energised each day to negotiate the tasks and issues you face. Make some simple changes: go for a walk or jog to start the day; if you stay up late on the internet, try turning in half an hour earlier; and swap out junk food for nutritious food that will give you more energy.

4. Connect with Your Colleagues

Sometimes work can really be “all work and no play”. While it’s important to work hard, if you’re not enjoying your working day, then you’re unlikely to be engaged or very productive.

One of the key ways to better enjoy your working day is to connect with those around you; building relationships with your colleagues can make the day seem far more manageable, especially if you are sharing a joke or sharing a problem.

The easiest way to get to know your colleagues is to share food or a drink outside of work. Being in a non-work environment means everyone feels far more relaxed and more willing to share things about themselves. So if you’re feeling isolated and stressed at work, reach out and connect with your colleagues – it’s likely they will share some of the same stresses and frustrations!

5. Plan a Holiday

Sometimes it feels like work is so busy and stressful, that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, under New Zealand employment law, you are entitled to four weeks’ paid leave per year, so speak with your employer about when it’s appropriate for you to take a break.

Having a holiday to look forward to, or simply some time off to recuperate can be all you need to get through a busy period without burning out.




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