How to deal with work stress, burnout: exercise, eating healthy, sleep


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Does your job leave you feeling exhausted? Increasingly cynical towards your work? Have you been less efficient, lately? If so, there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from burnout which is chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been properly managed, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). While burnout isn’t listed as a medical condition by the International Classification of Diseases, it can still affect your health. Burnout isn’t a rare phenomenon—in a 2021 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 79% of workers felt they were experiencing burnout. Healthcare and education, in particular, are two fields where the risk of burnout is especially high.

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While you may be used to soldiering on, your mood will continue to deteriorate unless you put your foot down and confront the problem. There are many ways to deal with burnout — quitting your job outright needn’t be the first step. Fortunately, there are less drastic measures you can take to manage your stress levels and begin feeling good about what you do again.

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

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

Focus on healthy eating

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 the way 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 evidence that healthy eating is a contributing factor to better mental health. That being said, eating healthier is often easier said than done. After a long and stressful day of work, many of us would rather quickly order something than take the time to prepare a meal.

Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice convenience for health. Freshly is our favorite pre-made delivery service. Freshly’s food tastes so good that Reviewed executive editor, Meghan Kavanaugh, could hardly believe they were microwaved with the ingredients tasting so wonderful and fresh. Plus, the portion sizes left her feeling the perfect amount of full. 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 delicious as the standard line and provide a great option if you’re looking for consistent, no-hassle healthy meals.

Get FreshlyFit starting at $8.49 per meal

Make sure you get a good night’s rest

A good night's rest could be the key to being happy at work.

After a long day, there’s nothing like a good night’s rest 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 often unmotivated, lethargic, irritable and stressed. These symptoms are all like what you’d feel during burnout and, sure enough, studies have established an association between burnout and amount of sleep. So, if you’re looking to manage burnout, your next order of business should be getting some much-needed quality shuteye.

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

Next up: your pillow. You can’t have a good night’s sleep without a good pillow and you can’t go wrong with the Original Pillow from Coop Home Goods. We tested it ourselves and love that it allows you to stuff it with as much or as little shredded memory foam to meet your needs. Plus, it’s machine-washable.

Everyone knows what pillows and mattresses feel like, but what about weighted blankets? If you haven’t given them a try yet, you should as many clothes by their usefulness in helping them sleep. The Gravity Blanket is expensive, but more than earns its price-point 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 outrun burnout.

Exercise is another form of self-care that can be used to treat the effects of burnout, as indicated in a 2014 study on the benefits of cardiovascular and resistance exercise. Exercise, in general, is great for your health, so it’s important to carve some time out of your day to move your body, particularly if your work is mostly sedentary. You can even exercise at your desk if you wish.

If you’re going on a run, we highly encourage you to wear the right shoes. In wearing the right kind of running shoe, every step can feel like a smooth glide. For women’s shoes, we recommend Nike’s Air Zoom Pegasus 38 which provides plenty of wiggle room for your toes while keeping your ankles snug. For men’s shoes, we recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11 Running Shoes, which are cushioned with breathable materials to help the shoe flex and stretch as you run. Before you get started with your exercise, make sure to take the proper steps to prevent heat exhaustion when exercising outdoors.

For those looking to stay inside the house while exercising, consider an exercise bike. The Peloton+ bike is our favorite with a simple assembly process, easy adjustability and many on-demand classes to help you get started on your healthy journey.

Whatever exercise you’re looking to do, a fitness tracker will help keep you on the right track toward your goal. The Fitbit Charge 5 is our favorite since it’s comfortable, easy to use and tracks a lot of data—you’re able to check on calories burned, the average pace of a run, and even how well you slept. Furthermore, 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 than can stretch burnout thin.

Oftentimes, mental issues such as stress and anxiety can be eased 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 calm which has been linked to the reduction of stress and burnout. It can be challenging for beginners, but there are apps that can help you get started. Headspace is our favorite meditation app and once you try it out, you’ll 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 mindful. We also love that the program allows you to adjust meditation session length 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 levels. For those looking 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 its rich content more than justifies its price.

In order to do proper yoga, you’ll need the right equipment—at the very least, you’ll need a yoga mat. Even if you already have a mat, it might be time to replace it with a new one. Lululemon’s ‘The Mat’ has everything you could want in a yoga mat. It’s big, provides the perfect amount of softness and it’s easy to clean. Another good accessory to have is a yoga block, like the ones offered by Gaiam. They hold their shape, provide a solid grip and are soft to the touch.

Look into other forms of self-care

There are many options for dealing with burnout

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

Why settle for only soaking your feet when you can treat your whole body? Soaking in a long bath is a tried-and-true way to reduce stress. With a bath bomb, you can level up your next bath session and be assured that it will leave you feeling like you’re in the lap of luxury. They’re fun, fragrant and quite affordable. In particular, we recommend the LifeAround2Angels Bath Bombs. Not only do they smell and look great, but they actually moisturize your skin, too—all without staining your tub or towel.

While you’re at it, surround yourself with the comforting aroma of essential oils to help you unwind. We love the Airomé Serenity Medium Diffuser out of all the diffusers we tested. It’s portable, easy to use and no matter which one 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 all done with your self-care ritual, get into a cozy robe 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 worrying thoughts. The Cindy Elsharouni Stress Relieving Adult Coloring Book is a great choice, with over sixty cool designs that you can fill in (even if you don’t have the best coloring skills). Another practice that people wear by is gratitude journaling. Reviewed’s former sleep writer, Lindsey Vickers, found gratitude journaling to improve her sleep and her overall happiness simply by writing things down that she’s thankful for. While you can buy a new journal (Lindsey loves a classic Moleskin journal), you probably already have one at home that’ll be perfect for the job.

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