Careers

Fed up of being burned out? Here are 9 ways to save your career—and your health

Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri in "The Mindy Project"
Evans Vestal Ward/Universal Television/NBCU Photo Bank | NBCUniversal | Getty Images
Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri in "The Mindy Project"

Every worker can have an off day, but when employees lose their ability to engage, the warning signs of occupational burnout can often arise.

According to Tim Cole, the CEO and founder of consulting firm The Compass Alliance, there are four phases of burnout, which he dubs "the burn-out cycle."

  • Stage one: Loss of purpose (No longer embracing the job role)
  • Stage two: Loss of direction (Occupation no longer makes sense)
  • Stage three: Full loss of engagement (No longer wants to work in that role)
  • Stage four: Full burnout (As Cole puts it: "the career equivalent of the walking zombie")

Stress in the workplace is far from unheard of. In a recent study, the U.S. National Safety Council discovered that 97 percent of Americans surveyed admitted that they had at least one of nine leading risk factors linked to fatigue, including working unusual hours, dealing with long commutes, and working over 50 hours a week.

In fact, 44 percent admitted to having trouble focusing at work, while over half felt less productive; highlighting that fatigued employees could not only make errors at work, but put themselves and others at risk too.

"The challenge for most is not in surviving their job — it's in establishing a balance emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally in their life," Cole told CNBC over email.

Having broken down the stages of burnout into separate phases, Cole took it upon himself to come up with different ways to thwart these moments of exhaustion — with nine "burnout busters."

"The buster's focus is on factors outside the primary vocation — and challenges the individual to consider a larger context. One-dimensional employees are far more likely to crash and burn."

While Cole states that these "busters" don't fully eradicate the larger issues to do with a job's purpose, these actions can be "incredibly effective" in regards to overall direction and tackling any potential engagement pitfalls.

Breaking away from the burnout blues

1) Join a gym

… And use it, regularly. As Cole puts it, if you train like an athlete, you can perform like one. If you act like a spectator however, then "expect to eventually have a nice seat in the bleachers."

2) Make healthy eating a part of your daily routine

"Travel and the associated nuances can play havoc with what you eat and when," says Cole, adding that people can learn to come to grips and negotiate with it, or potentially face problems related to health and nutrition.

3) Embrace your friends

"If your only outlet is your job — you are holding on far too tight," says Cole, underlining why social outlets are vital.

"The job is fickle. It will love you at times and it will hate you at times, but it will always look at you through green-tinted glasses — yes, the same color as the dollars that power it."

The Parks and Recreation gang going out for drinks
Greg Gayne/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank | NBCUniversal | Getty Images
The Parks and Recreation gang going out for drinks

4) Find a life partner who 'gets it' and can support you

"If you're lucky you'll find someone who helps you put things into perspective and not be sucked into the tornado."

5) If you choose to drink alcohol, limit it and don't make it a part of your work life

… And this includes off-site business meetings. The CEO himself adopts his own key guideline: "nothing good happens after midnight at company functions."

6) Recognize and embrace your faith

Life can offer a number of opportunities where you'll "recognize the failures of man (and the corporate world)," says Cole. All of these moments can be put "in better context when balanced against a higher order."

"The former will never be perfect. I believe the latter always will be," he adds.

7) Don't make 'your vocation, your avocation' and nourish hobbies outside of work

"There is life outside of your career but you need to build it," states Cole, stressing how when it comes to going on holiday, you should leave your work at your desk — and not bring it in your suitcase.

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation
Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank | NBCUniversal | Getty Images
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation

8) Stay active

Living a sedentary lifestyle can have damaging effects, explains Cole, so don't let these habits have ramifications on your health.

Britain's government advises adults to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week and commit to strength activities for at least two. According to the British Heart Foundation however, over 20 million of U.K. adults don't match up to these recommendations.

9) Continue to stimulate your most important muscle: your mind

"It can be and should be a passion that sustains you long after your career is done," says Cole, when discussing the burnout buster. For The Compass Alliance founder, his own mind and lifelong interests have helped "inspire and sustain" him.

"The body will grow old. I pray my mind will stay forever young."

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