How to Avoid Burnout and Stay Centered in a Demanding Career

Career burnout is a reaction to persistent and chronic job-related stress that can leave busy professionals feeling exhausted, demotivated, and unfulfilled. According to NBC News, the average American devotes 40% of their day to their job, leaving only a few hours for personal care and leisure activities. Add chores, childcare, and other personal obligations, and full-time workers have very little time to practice self-care. But taking steps to care for our bodies and minds is essential for feeling balanced and enjoying fulfillment in your work and personal life. Here are some easy ways to work self-care into your daily routine without uprooting your life.

Make Time for Exercise

Did you know that exercise plays a critical role in our stress levels? Exercise reduces levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in the body and causes the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are like natural painkillers that also have mood-enhancing effects. If you’re fighting sleeplessness at night, daily exercise may help you sleep better, too, which in turn will give you more energy and brainpower to get you through those busy days.

Luckily, you don’t have to commit to lengthy workouts to enjoy these benefits. Try to sneak exercise into your day whenever possible, whether this means parking a few blocks away from the office or getting out for a walk during your lunch break. If you could use a bit of a push to get moving more often, consider buying a fitness tracker. For example, the Apple Watch series features workout detection and a built-in ECG so you can keep track of your day-to-day physical fitness and monitor your progress over time. The Fitbit Charge 3 is another great everyday fitness tracker that features sleep tracking and a long battery life, so you’ll only have to take it off once a week for a charge.

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is vital to our ongoing mental and physical wellbeing. Believe it or not, at least 30% of Americans get less than 6 hours of sleep every night, suffering the effects of sleep deprivation as a result. Getting too little sleep can negatively affect several of your key cognitive processes, including decision-making, judgment, and emotional control. Overall, being sleep deprived will make it much harder for you to cope with stressful situations at work and at home.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to get more sleep despite your busy schedule. Although you can’t train your body to get by on fewer hours of sleep, optimizing your sleep routine will help you waste less time in bed tossing and turning or waking up in the middle of the night. Try to give yourself at least half an hour before bed to step away from work and life stressors and let your mind wind down. Turn off electronics, steer clear of alcohol and caffeine, and engage in some relaxing activities. Find a few activities that help you de-stress before bed. For example, Bustle recommends practicing guided meditation, writing a to-do list for tomorrow, and taking a bath to wind down before bed.

Find Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

Like sleep and exercise, healthy eating is important for controlling stress and keeping us energized. But the most convenient meals are rarely the healthiest options. When you have very little time to grocery shop or cook, the best way to incorporate healthy options into your diet is by reaching for nutrient-dense snacks throughout your day. Veggie sticks, raw fruits, nuts, and seeds make great energy-boosting midday snacks. If you like to drink soda, consider switching to flavored sparkling water to cut some sugar out of your diet. Sugar is a serious stress-causing ingredient that contributes to inflammation and can even affect your mood.

It can be tough to care for ourselves when we’re juggling a bundle of work responsibilities and life obligations. The irony is that the busier and more stressed out we are, the more important it is to make time for self-care. Don’t sacrifice your health for your career. Find ways to work healthy stress-relieving activities into your daily life so you can feel great and hit the ground running every day.

About the Author:  George Mears is a brain fitness expert, educator, and counselor. He is passionate about sharing his thoughts and research through his articles.

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