How to deal with work stress, burnout: exercising, eating healthy, sleeping

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Do you feel exhausted by your work? Increasingly cynical about your work? Have you been less efficient lately? Then there is a good chance that you suffer from burnout that is chronic stress at work that has not been properly managed, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although burnout is not listed as a medical condition by the International Classification of Diseases, it can still affect your health. Burnout is not a rare phenomenon — in a 2021 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 79% of workers felt they were burned out. Healthcare and education in particular are two areas where the risk of burnout is particularly high.

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While you may be used to going on, your mood will continue to deteriorate unless you stand your ground and face the problem. There are many ways to deal with burnout – quitting your job doesn’t have to be the first step. Fortunately, there are less drastic measures you can take to manage your stress levels and feel good about what you’re doing.

►Related: Telltale signs of workplace burnout and what to do if you notice them

►More: What is burnout? It starts with work and while self-care can help, it’s not just your problem to solve

Focus on healthier food

Making sure you eat a nutritious meal is one way to combat burnout.

The saying goes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. The way we eat plays a big part in how we feel and burnout is no exception in this regard. A recent study shows that eating healthier is associated with a lower level of burnout, and there is some evidence that healthy eating is a contributing factor to better mental health. That said, eating healthier is often easier said than done. After a long and stressful day at work, many of us would rather order something quickly than take the time to prepare a meal.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice convenience for health. Freshly is our favorite turnkey delivery service. Freshly’s food tastes so good that Review’s editor-in-chief, Meghan Kavanaugh, could hardly believe they were microwaved and the ingredients tasted so delicious and fresh. Plus, the portion sizes left her feeling the perfect amount of fullness. FreshlyFit is a line of low-carb, high-protein meals that offers options for many diets, including gluten-free, paleo, and keto. They’re just as tasty as the standard line and are a great option if you’re looking for consistent, hassle-free healthy meals.

Get FreshlyFit from $8.49 per meal

Get a good night’s sleep

A good night's sleep can be the key to being happier at work.

After a long day, nothing beats a good night’s sleep to recharge for the day ahead. Sleep is essential to our well-being – people who consistently get less than eight hours of sleep are more likely to be unmotivated, lethargic, irritable and stressed. These symptoms are all similar to what you would feel during a burnout and, indeed, studies have shown a link between burnout and the amount of sleep. So if you’re looking to manage burnout, your next job should be a much-needed quality shuteye.

We at Reviewed have tested countless mattresses and found the original Tuft and Needle mattress to be the best overall. Whether you’re a side sleeper or tend to sleep on your back, Tuft and Needle’s affordable mattress helps you rest in comfort thanks to the foam that quickly molds to your body shape.

Next: your kisses. You can’t sleep well without a good pillow and you can’t go wrong with the original Coop Home Goods pillow. We tested it ourselves and love that you can fill it with as much or as little shredded memory foam to suit your needs. In addition, it is machine washable.

Everyone knows what pillows and mattresses feel like, but what about weighted blankets? If you haven’t tried them yet, you should swear by their usefulness to help them sleep. The Gravity Blanket is expensive, but more than deserves its price thanks to its luxurious feel and great weight distribution that left our testers feeling cozy and calm.

Move your body with exercise

Getting on your feet is another way to avoid burnout.

Exercise is another form of self-care that can be used to treat the effects of burnout, as shown by a 2014 study on the benefits of cardiovascular and resistance exercise. Exercise is generally good for your health, so it’s important to take some time out of your day to move your body, especially if your work is primarily sedentary. You can even exercise at your desk if you wish.

If you are going for a run, we strongly recommend that you wear the right shoes. By wearing the right running shoe, every step can feel like a smooth glide. For women’s shoes, we recommend Nike’s Air Zoom Pegasus 38, which offers plenty of room for your toes while keeping your ankles tight. For men’s shoes, we recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11 running shoes, which are padded with breathable materials to help the shoe flex and stretch as you run. Before starting your workout, make sure you’re taking the right steps to avoid heat exhaustion when exercising outdoors.

For those who want to stay indoors while exercising, consider an exercise bike. The Peloton+ bike is our favorite with a simple assembly process, easy adjustability and plenty of on-demand lessons to get you started on your healthy journey.

Whatever exercise you want to do, a fitness tracker will help you stay on track to your goal. The Fitbit Charge 5 is our favorite because it’s comfortable, easy to use, and keeps a lot of data — you can monitor calories burned, average pace of a run, and even how well you’ve slept. Plus, it tracks stress levels by measuring electrical changes in your skin, meaning it’s the perfect tool to see how your burnout is improving.

Change your perspective with yoga and meditation

Mindfulness gives you the perception that burnout can stretch thin.

Often, mental problems such as stress and anxiety can be alleviated by changing your perception of the world and your role in it. Mindfulness meditation emphasizes attention and acceptance to achieve a state of positivity and calmness linked to reducing stress and burnout. It can be a challenge for beginners, but there are apps that can get you started. Headspace is our favorite meditation app and once you try it you will quickly realize why we love it so much. The app wastes no time getting you into a meditative mindset and offers a wealth of programs that will help you become more aware. We also love that the program allows you to adjust the length of the meditation session and offers wellness-focused videos. Headspace can even help you fall asleep.

Yoga is a form of self-care that combines meditation with low-intensity exercises that focus on breathing and posture to reduce stress. For those who want to try yoga, the Alo Moves app is a great place to start. It’s our favorite yoga app, as it offers a wide variety of yoga styles and teachers, and even personalizes suggested workouts for each user. Not to mention, it’s easy to use and the rich content more than justifies the price.

To do good yoga you need the right equipment – you need at least a yoga mat. Even if you already have a mat, it may be time to replace it with a new one. Lululemon’s ‘The Mat’ has everything you could wish for in a yoga mat. It’s large, offers the perfect amount of softness and is easy to clean. Another good accessory to have is a yoga block, such as those offered by Gaiam. They keep their shape, offer a firm grip and feel soft.

Look at other forms of self-care

There are many options for dealing with burnout

There are many ways to relax and relieve stress. One way is through the art of massaging. With a handy foot spa you can give yourself a wonderful massage. We’ve tested many foot spas and found Ivation’s Foot Spa Massager to be the best overall thanks to its features like adjustable heat, massage rollers, water jets, and a timer.

Why settle for just soaking your feet when you can treat your entire body? Soaking in a long bath is a proven way to reduce stress. With a bath bomb you can take your next bathing session to the next level and rest assured that it will make you feel like you are in the lap of luxury. They are fun, fragrant and quite affordable. In particular, we recommend the LifeAround2Angels Bath Bombs. Not only do they smell and look great, but they also moisturize your skin, all without staining your tub or towel.

While you’re at it, surround yourself with the comforting aroma of essential oils to help you relax. We love the Airomé Serenity Medium Diffuser of all the diffusers we tested. It’s portable, easy to use, and whichever of the beautiful colors you choose, you’ll get a diffuser with a simple, elegant design that’s perfect for any home.

When you’re done with your self-care ritual, put on a cozy bathrobe and try to focus your mind on positive things. An adult coloring book is a great way to keep your mind active and distract you from disturbing thoughts. The Cindy Elsharouni Stress Relieving Adult Coloring Book is a great choice, with over sixty cool designs for you to fill in (even if you don’t have the best coloring skills). Another practice people swear by is keeping a gratitude journal. Former Reviewed sleep writer Lindsey Vickers found that a gratitude journal could improve her sleep and overall happiness simply by writing down things she’s grateful for. While you can buy a new journal (Lindsey likes a classic Moleskin journal), you probably already have one that’s perfect for work.

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