Do you find yourself feeling mentally fatigued at the end of your workday? Are you often feeling frustrated, bored or angry with colleagues or clients? Do you notice increased headaches, backaches or an upset stomach during the course of the day? If you said yes to any of these questions you might be experiencing the early stages of professional burnout.

Burnout can happen as a result of exposure to chronic stress. It can leave you feeling mentally and physically exhausted, and less effective at work. It can happen when the demands of your job outweigh the resources or support available to you, or if there’s conflict among coworkers.

Burnout can also occur when you have a difficult time setting limits. As the famous author Paulo Coelho reminds us, we can start setting limits by saying yes to ourselves more often. This means that sometimes it’s better to decline an invitation or say no to a request from others. It’s okay to set limits. It’s okay to ask for help and support.

Think about what aspects of your work are creating increased stress and tension. Is it conflict or disagreement with coworkers or a supervisor? Is your workload too complex or demanding? Are you unable to take your designated breaks during the day? Are you able to do something pleasurable outside of work hours? Once you identify what’s contributing to your increased stress you can make a plan to resolve it.

It might help to talk with a trusted confidante so you can identify what specifically is leading to increased stress and tension for you at work. Hiring a professional coach or therapist can be helpful if you have limited supports or want to confidentially work with someone trained to support you in this area.

In the meantime, here are 5 mindful self-care habits you can start practicing now to help you reduce stress:

  1. What’s one thing you can take off your to do list today? Think about at least one task that can wait until another day and focus on completing the ones that can’t wait.
  2. Ask for help. It’s okay to ask for more time if you need it or to recruit a colleague to assist you. Asking for help allows others to also feel comfortable doing so. You don’t have to do it alone. You can set a good example for others that it’s okay to accept help.
  3. Are you taking your designated break time? If not, what’s standing in the way? I often hear colleagues saying there’s no time to eat lunch or use the bathroom. There are state and federal laws that mandate employers provide a certain amount of paid and unpaid break time, depending on your schedule. If you find yourself unable to meet your basic physical needs then ask for help. See if you and your colleagues can provide coverage for each other so you can take the breaks you need and deserve.
  4. Get up and move! If you find yourself standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time a simple shift in position can help you release muscle tension and reduce fatigue. Sitting for too long is not good for your health. Get up and stretch. Do jumping jacks, jump rope or practice some planks or push-ups. Your body will thank you.
  5. Establish an after work ritual that signals to your mind and body that work is done. Turn off your work email alerts and change into comfortable clothes. If you work from home this can be challenging. Designate an area for work only, and make sure to turn off work devices during your personal time. It’s important to have designated time and space that won’t interfere with your personal life.

This week try at least one of these mindful self-care habits and let me know how it goes. Would love to hear from you!