Burnout is no stranger to tax and accounting professionals, but in this pandemic world, it seems to be even more apparent. Prolonged exposure to stress and anxiety can create difficulty when trying to find work-life balance. So, if burnout is all around us, how can we fight it? We’ve come up with a list of three steps to help you find some peace this holiday season and mentally prepare you to take on the upcoming tax season.
Step 1: Recognize the signs
Before fighting burnout, we need to know what it is. Burnout is more than just feeling stressed. Stress is a natural response one has physically to a real or perceived threat. Burnout is a condition that takes effect after prolonged exposure to stress. It can look like many different things.
- Emotional Exhaustion
Have you ever felt like you have cared too much about something that you normally wouldn’t? That is emotional exhaustion at work. It can leave you feeling depleted, like your tank is running on empty. Sometimes it might even feel like no matter how hard you care or work, nothing will change. This is a good sign that you are burning yourself out – you have been exposed to the stress of work for too long.
When an extended period of stress leads to burnout, you might feel a lack of compassion. When your stressors consume all your energy, it might be hard to feel like you have anything left to give. This feeling of depersonalization is a natural physical response, and it may be your body’s attempt to avoid additional burnout. If you notice a lack of compassion, increasing cynicism, or impersonal interactions, you might be experiencing burnout.
- Talk it out
Recognizing it on your own might be hard, but those around you might notice that your behavior resembles someone who is exhausted. Things like insomnia, chronic fatigue, feelings hopeless, pessimism, or self-medicating are good indicators to look out for.
Step 2: Recover
- Take mini-breaks
In a culture that prioritizes over-working, it is hard to take some quality time away from work. Taking a 5–10-minute break away from work in the morning and afternoon is an achievable way to allow rest to enter your schedule. Fill the time with something meaningful, like exercise, eating a meal with your family, or listening to music or podcasts.
- Speak Up
If you just can’t seem to beat burnout, it might be time to look at your firm culture. Is this a workplace that values the health and wellness of its employees? How can you take advantage of company programs that encourage taking care of yourself? If there are no such programs, how can you work with your leadership to develop ways to help your peers? Culture changes, you can have an impact on it!
- After Working Hours
Once you have logged off for the day, stay logged off! Use your non-working hours to do things that give you energy. That means after work, you need to do more than just lay on your couch – introverts and extroverts alike. Get out and be social, try a new hobby, and talk to someone who isn’t from your workplace. Plug into the world outside of work.
Step 3: Avoiding it in the future
- Protect your time
You have vacation days – use them! It is better for a company to have passionate and engaged employees who take time for themselves than it is for the company to be filled with zombies chained to their desks. It might be hard at first to take some time off, but you have earned that time – and should use it!
- Find meaningful work
Feeling disconnected from your work? Find the part of your work that is most meaningful and spend some quality time engaging in that material. Pursue projects you enjoy and that will help you enjoy your working time. Now don’t let that meaningful work run your life, but let it fuel you and keep you engaged.
Burnout might feel inevitable, but you have the power to take back your work life. You can fight burnout! It will take time, and there might be some growing pains, but it is worth it. You are worth it!
For more resources on burnout and working from home check out this whitepaper on working from home!