3 ways to establish an after-hours routine to avoid burnout
We love our work so much that, at times, we describe happiness in our lives only through our successful professions. While we bring home the happy client’s testimonial on most days, it is not uncommon to bring home your stress from a busy day at work. Even when most tax and accounting professionals try to maintain work-life balance, they all can face some burnout during busy season and throughout the year.
Emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion – described as burnout – not only limits our productivity at work, but also limits our ability to feel happiness around our friends and family. This is why it is important to be aware, and prepare to avoid and overcome possible burnout. In my recent article, I suggested some of the best practices in the workplace to avoid burnout. Here are three ways to avoid burnout in your personal life.
#1: Create and stick to a routine
Routine gives structure to your day. Without a routine, you often have the stress of wondering what’s next. Create a routine that includes all the necessary steps to maintain a healthy body. If your day is scheduled, it takes away the anxiety of missing something to take care of your body.
- Eat fresh and eat on time. Studies suggest that eating well affects your mental and physical health. Food and your mood are interdependent on each other. Create an eating schedule that works for you. Use your weekends to meal prep that gives easy access to your favorite meal when you are out and about. I personally cannot function without a proper breakfast and my morning tea. I block my calendar for lunch and snack breaks, and we have a family rule of one meal together each day – and that is dinner. This helps all the family members to pause, or end the day at the same time, and spend time together.
- Work your body. Exercising regularly boosts your physical and mental health. Pick a routine that fits your body needs. It may be yoga, cardio, or even weight training. My work hours do not allow me to fit in a workout routine in the morning, which is why I moved it to the evening. Regardless of the timing, I manage to block one hour on my calendar to get that workout in. This year has been a blessing in disguise, as the work-from-home situation has given us so much flexibility to add these essentials into our routine.
- Rest your body. Just like exercising, resting your body and mind is equally important. It is essential to pick a time to snooze for a power nap during a very long and busy day. A good night’s sleep is as important as exercising and healthy eating. A rested body makes for a very productive day. Another way to rest your body is also to meditate.
#2: Find your stress buster
Maybe your first love is your profession, which is why you may often ignore the need to unplug. It is significant to notice the signs of your body retaliating and your tired mind. Find your second love that will help you relax and fill your day with joy. Self-care plays a crucial role in rejuvenating your mind and body.
- Take up a hobby. Do you remember what you picked as your elective in school? Was it art, theater, or perhaps band? Now that you’re all grown up, it’s time to find your creative self to try out something that not only disconnects you from work, but also gives you pleasure. Some activities can be also done in a group. Last summer, the family picked up a tie-dye project, creating T-shirts for all the family members that we can wear on our next vacation.
- Read and learn. Reading not only helps improve your memory, but also trains your brain to focus. For someone like me, a book helps me travel to a different space of imagination. Reading is my stressbuster. If you are not a reader, pick a class to learn. Find a course that has always interested you, but you never had time. Listen to a podcast while walking or exercising. It may help you forget your work for some time and find a different perspective.
- Volunteer and give back. Volunteering is another way to soothe your mind and body. The act of giving creates a feeling of satisfaction. Some of the other benefits of volunteering include making more connections and getting recognized in your community. Social contact indirectly creates a support system that helps you to combat a stressful work environment.
#3: Take time off and disconnect
Taking time away from work helps regenerate your creativity. Taking a break before getting into busy season, or before a major filing deadline, gives you that extra boost of energy to face the stress. Even while you are going through that busy time and working endless hours, if you pick some time to completely shut down, it is easier to refocus back the next day, and come back with a fresh body and mind.
- Travel. Although COVID-19 has hindered travel for many of us, you may still be able to find your favorite vacation spot to escape from a busy work schedule. However, make sure to plan before you disappear, so that you do not come back to a piled-up workload. Get the experience of visiting new places, meeting new people, exploring different cultures, learning about nature, and the thrill of an adventure. I like this quote from William Langewiesche: “So much of who we are is where we have been.”
- Go offline. We get so engrossed in our work responsibilities that we may assume that it is not okay to be unavailable to our clients and team members. It is not only okay, but also necessary to completely unplug, and switch off your phones and other devices to rest your mind and eyes. It will also allow you to interact with your friends and family more often. Set the right expectations about your availability. Use that auto-office response more often.
A properly nourished body and mind are necessary to gain and maintain mental fitness to fight work stress and avoid burnout. Use these tips to pick a routine and customize a schedule that helps you survive and thrive during your busy work season. What are your favorite ways to relieve stress away from your office? Leave a comment below to share your ideas with others.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the Intuit® Tax Pro Center.