How to Prevent and Combat Burn-Out in the Workplace

Do you constantly feel stressed out? Are you worried you aren’t living up to your team’s expectations at work? Do you find yourself combating the “Sunday Scaries” and dreading heading in for another work week? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you might have burn-out.

What is Burn-Out?

Burn-out is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that occurs when someone is exposed to prolonged and excessive stress. It is a common issue in industries like manufacturing, where the fast-paced environment and demand for productivity can take a heavy toll, especially on leaders who are also dealing with the added stress of managing a team.

To learn more about burn-out and how it affects manufacturing leaders, I interviewed Nina Nesdoly on my Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast. Nina has a unique academic background in both neuroscience and management, and helped me shed some light on the common symptoms of burn-out.

In the podcast, Nina highlighted three major symptoms:

  1. Emotional exhaustion, including physical symptoms like headaches or muscle tension
  2. Cynicism and depersonalization
  3. Professional efficacy, or feeling like you and your work aren’t good enough

While almost everyone has moments of high-stress or occasional negative feelings like these, burn-out is different from regular stress. Unlike stress, which is your body’s reactions to demands in your environment, burn-out is the consequences of chronic stress over time.

Combating Burn-Out

Burn-out can have serious consequences, ranging from low morale in the workplace to mental health struggles. Luckily, there are many steps leaders can take to prevent and combat burn-out. In her podcast, Nina shared some great tips on burn-out prevention and broke them down into an easy-to-remember acronym, REST.

To battle burn-out, you should:

Recognize. The first step is taking aware of the signs of burn-out, like cynicism or feelings of professional efficacy. By knowing the warning signs of burn-out and staying in tune with your own emotions, you can take swift steps to tend to your burn-out before it causes further issues.

Evaluate. Oftentimes, burn-out is caused because we add unnecessary stress into our own lives, like by taking on someone else’s problems or letting someone ignore a boundary. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a moment to evaluate. Is this stress necessary? Are you in a position that aligns with your values and goals? Is this the best way to spend your time?

Say No. Once you evaluate your stressful situations, have the courage to say no. For example, you might tell someone you’re unable to take on a new project or tell a team member you don’t have the capacity to listen to them vent about a problem. If you find yourself struggling to say no, practice saying no in low-stakes situations, or tell others you need time to think before giving an answer. Don’t be afraid to take time to evaluate, process your emotions, and think about the best way to be intentional with your time and mental health.

Take Care of Yourself. Most importantly, take care of yourself! Burn-out prevention and mental health might look different for different people, but Nina recommends finding ways to connect with others. When you’re stressed, hormones in your body actually push you toward connecting with others, and finding support and connection can be a great way to prevent burn-out.

Learn More on the Podcast

To hear more neuroscience insights and practical burn-out prevention tips from Nina Nesdoly, check out her episode of the Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast here.

At Manufacturing Greatness, Trevor Blondeel works with manufacturers to connect the top to the shop floor. If you’re ready to improve your own organization, contact Trevor to learn how Manufacturing Greatness can help you build stronger leaders and develop a dynamic, high-performing workplace.