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Health & Wellbeing

How To Combat Burnout After Entering The Workforce

Just because you don’t love your job, doesn’t mean you can’t love your life.

young women who is feeling stressed about the amount of work she is faced with
Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

Gen Z is entering the workforce and it’s beginning to take a toll on their mental health and work ethic. Recent studies show that 50 percent of Gen Z workers are feeling exhausted due to their jobs. Without a balance between work and play, it is unlikely that Gen Z will experience a high quality of life. Rekindling hobbies or activities that excite and intrigue is a key aspect of finding joy in life that combats the symptoms of burnout.

Why is Gen Z Feeling So Stressed?

It is no secret that today’s technology has opened a Pandora’s Box of channels for communication. While it is great that it’s now easier than ever to reach people, there are also some huge drawbacks for the same reason.

Gen Z has never known a workplace that did not require them to be accessible for, at the very least, a quick email response or phone call up until the late hours of the day. When workers leave the office, work follows them home. While they may not actively be working, the lingering question of when the phone call will come is always in the back of their mind.

young dad with child in arms, working from home
After work hour demands take away from important moments in people’s lives. Credit: Sutterstock/Drazen Zigic

Kailyn Smith, 23, is a shelter manager at a women’s shelter in Missouri. Smith has been in her position for 6-months and experiences extreme levels of stress due to the constant need to be available.

Smith said that she was aware that the position would require her to be available 24/7 as this is a position that works hands-on with the public.

“No matter how much you love your job, nothing can prepare you for the mental and physical stress the constant availability can cause,” she stated in an interview with Trill Mag.

Smith works in an extraordinarily fulfilling position but at the end of the day, she is a human being that needs rest and balance.

“I have a fantastic team that also assists with on-call responsibilities, but there are still weeks that I could spend an additional 6 hours at home answering calls and emails,” she said.

Smith’s experience with struggling to balance work and personal life is one that is becoming more prevalent among the workforce.

What Does Burnout Mean for the Future?

As the eldest of the Gen Z workers have only been in the workforce for a total of ten years, it is strange that these high reports of burnout have occurred so prevalently. Droves of workers experiencing extreme exhaustion bring concerns for the future as to what the workforce will look like.

With many Gen Z workers choosing to leave their high-stress and demanding jobs for lower pay and higher quality of life, it’s likely that the near future will require workplaces and managers to make adjustments in order to keep positions filled.

dog on professional man's lap in the workplace
Where dog-friendly offices rise, stress levels have been noticed to fall. Credit: Shutterstock/Mirjana Zidar

Companies have already started making small changes to combat the rampancy of burnout by implementing changes such as dog-friendly offices. Some of the most notable companies include Amazon, Purina, and Uber. Studies show that dogs in the workplace reduce stress among workers. This is no groundbreaking discovery, dogs have been brought onto university campuses for years during midterm and finals weeks for this same reason. It is a small step but will likely lead to even bigger strides in the near future as more and more companies report high success rates with these alterations.

How Can Burnout Be Avoided?

Burnout is not a life sentence. It can be avoided, but also remedied. The largest contributor to burnout is stress. Stress is normal, it cannot be avoided entirely. However, it must be kept at a healthy level. When excessive levels of stress begin to occur, this is when mental and physical health problems begin to sprout.

Stress management experts suggest three main strategies when combating stress.

  1. Maintain a regular exercise routine and healthy diet.
  2. Get adequate amounts of sleep every night.
  3. Maintain a healthy support system.

These three tips are easier to enact in everyday life when paired with rituals, activities and hobbies.

Activities to Help You Get Moving

While exercising can be difficult on its own, they are much easier when implemented as an enjoyable treat for the body. Finding the right form of movement that works for you is key to enjoying exercise.

Running Club

Running Clubs have been sprouting up more and more frequently around large cities in the past years. These gatherings can be a great way to get out of the house and work up a sweat. These clubs meet up at a designated spot and often have different speeded pacers so that each person can find the right pace for them.

Clubs can be found through social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok where meeting times, locations, and days are shared. These clubs also make a great way to meet new people, so they are particularly nice when trying to make new friends.

Workout Classes

Workout Classes are a classic way to get up and get moving. There is a ton of variety when it comes to workout classes. The selections include yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and kickboxing just to name a few.

group of people in a studio doing yoga and stretching
Group workouts can be a great place to meet new friends while staying active. Credit: Shutterstock/Fiskez

Each class has something different to offer. Many gym memberships offer entrance to unlimited classes, so that is a great way to get in while staying within budget. Just like running clubs, workout classes can be an excellent way to meet new friends.

Pick-up Leagues

Nothing keeps the body in shape like sports. Softball, volleyball, pickleball, tennis and so many other sports are easy to find in all communities. They are a great way to get moving and have fun doing it.

These organized sports are another way to meet people, and playing on a team will make skipping out more difficult to do. When a team is reliant on its members showing up, this creates a sense of importance to each member and creates an even larger incentive to show up each time. They are an excellent way to create a regular schedule around being active.

Get Enough Sleep

Like all things in life, there must be balance. Sleep can be difficult to get when juggling between work and social life. However, it is vital to find a schedule that supplies adequate sleep. Everyone’s interests are different. It is easier for someone who enjoys staying in and relaxing on Friday night to get enough sleep than someone whose perfect Friday night is going out to the bar with friends. Neither routine is better than the other, however, there must be time carved out to make up for lost sleep.

woman waking up in white sheets and stretching in front of a window
Adequate sleep is important for recharging and resting the brain and body. Credit: Shutterstock/Volha_R

There is also the danger of too much sleep. This is why finding activities to keep busy is important so that there is something to encourage getting out of bed.

Exercise As A Sleep Aid

Practicing daily physical activity can help aid in getting a good night’s sleep. Exercising 1 to 2 hours before going to sleep is believed to prep the body for bed, as the body temperature will lower. The decrease in body temperature is believed to facilitate sleep. However, people should be watchful of the timing at which they exercise. Endorphins are released during exercise that may keep the body awake if not given time to relax before bed.  

White and Pink Noise

Many people who struggle with falling asleep have found that white noise helps. Similar to ocean sounds, the static, grainy noise that is white noise has been known to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

Pink noise is helpful for people who live in busy areas. It helps reduce the sound differences between abrupt loud noises and the lack of them, like a car horn or a snoring partner. A study on pink noise concluded that it helps with deeper and longer sleep. The same study reported that pink noise is more soothing to the human brain than white noise due to the higher frequencies.  

Maintaining A Healthy Support System

The world is currently experiencing a loneliness epidemic that is wreaking havoc on people’s mental health. The world is more detached than ever due to the reliance on social media and a lack of physical interaction. Physical contact and in-person interaction are vital to decreasing and maintaining healthy levels of stress.

Spending time with loved ones and nurturing relationships is vital to securing a strong support system. Support systems include the people that we enjoy spending our time with and whom we can come to with our problems. Without people to decompress with, stress and negative emotions build up and begin to turn into burnout. It is expected to have conflict in the workplace and finding a healthy outlet to relieve oneself after these interactions is important so that these situations do not have long-term effects.

Set Aside Time To Be Social

Maintaining a strong support system takes effort, especially when life gets busy. It can be easy to put friendships and family relationships on the back burner when focusing on other things, like a stressful job. Some easy ways to make sure time is carved out for family and friends include:

  1. Setting blocks of time for catching up.
  2. Weekly dinner/lunch/breakfast plans.
  3. Planned phone calls or video chats.

Planning specific ways to keep in touch with loved ones is a great one to stay on top of social interaction. Humans are social beings and need human contact to survive. Burnout can make it difficult to have the motivation to be social, but it is a necessary step in recovery.

Loneliness Is On The Rise

Another reason for this loneliness, especially for people in their 20s, is they often find themselves moving to new cities where they are isolated from loved ones. This is another reason why staying active and joining group activities is so important for combatting burnout. Fighting stress by finding friends to spend time with will alleviate these emotions and make for a more enjoyable life.

Gen Z is entering their 20s and experiencing the difficulties that this decade brings. Everyone needs support and with a group of people to rely on, this awkward time transforms into a beautiful part of life that brings on new experiences, opportunities and people to share them with.

Burnout Is Not the End Of The World

At some point in life, everyone will or has experienced burnout. It is part of adjusting. When stress and burnout occur, it can be difficult to maneuver. However, there are many ways to move past it and to come out better on the other side. The trick is to find what works and brings joy and to stick with it.

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Written By

Hi, everyone! My name is Emma. I'm finishing up my last semester as a student of Communication and Marketing at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Donna

    April 2, 2024 at 6:12 pm

    Lovely article, with some brilliant advice. Thank you! This is just what I needed!

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