Stressed at work? Here are 5 things you can do to avoid burnout

A female presenting person is looking out the window. They have eyeglasses on. They look stressed and there is a creative overlay for visual impact.

April is recognised as National Stress Awareness Month, so we’ve gathered some insights and tips on how the LGBTQ+ community can unwind and keep ahead of the worries that work and life bring.

It’s a fair to say that everyone experiences stress frequently in their life. External factors such as the war in Ukraine, economic uncertainty and the 24-hour news and social media cycle all have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Add in the extras of a career – job insecurities, missed deadlines and opportunities, and imposter syndrome, plus the problems of familial and parental relationships – and it’s no wonder that society seems to be more stressed than ever.

Those in the LGBTQ+ community can encounter additional stress factors, which can lead to poorer mental health and wellbeing.

Gwendolyn Jones, the founder of So Not Typical, which offers neurodivergent-focused coaching, believes that workplace culture has a huge impact on the stress levels of LGBTQ+ employees.

“Micro-aggression, bi-erasure, transphobia and homophobia can make any workplace feel hostile,” she explains. “This triggers a stress response, as discrimination is accepted as a part of the workplace culture.”

While Gen Z is likely to already be burnt out by their career worries, all generations are susceptible to being overcome by stress. Constant and chronic stress can have an impact on people’s work experience and performance – and in severe cases leads to health issues.

“For some people, stress can be hugely debilitating, both in the workplace and in their private lives,” says author and mental toughness coach Penny Mallory. “It can render people unable to eat, sleep and function properly and can result in burnout.”

A male presenting person with a white jumper is working at his computer and has face in one hand.
Stress caused by work or personal issues can have a direct impact on physical and mental health. (Getty Images/PinkNews)

Tip for managing your work stress levels

When it comes to careers and work, while the employer does have some responsibility in ensuring employees don’t reach the point of burnout, the onus also falls on the individual. There are many methods to help people manage work-induced stresses.

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While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, consider putting some of these tips for managing work stress into effect:

Know what you can control

Imposter syndrome – the persistent inability to believe your success is deserved or been fairly achieved – is a common experience that many people suffer, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community.  With more than 500,000 monthly Google searches for the phrase, many of us clearly feel inadequate at work. 

Sasha Amfo, the head of people operations at online learning platform FutureLearn, believes that to overcome the stresses that accompany imposter syndrome, people need to recognise what they can and can’t control. “We need to identify and address negative thought and behaviour patterns that undermine confidence,” she says.

“By understanding the impact this has on our mental health, we can start to recognise negative behaviours and learn about issues such as anxiety around leading a team.”

A Black woman is working from home. She is resting her head onto her right hand. She appears burnt out.
Doing simple things such as establishing a routine and disregarding social media hype can help relieve stress. (Getty Images/PinkNews)

Establish a good routine

There’s more to mindfulness than meditation. While it can help create a calm mind-set to eliminate stress, getting into a good routine can help improve mindfulness at work. Sticking to healthy habits as part of your daily routine can help you remain calm in stressful situations. Consider taking a daily lunch break and getting outside (if weather permits). Turning off the notifications on devices can also help clear your head so you are better set to take on your day.

Say no and set boundaries

Remember that it is always OK to say “no”. Increasing workloads, never-ending to-do lists and uncontrolled pressure can lead to overwhelming stress, which, in turn, can result in missed tasks and a negative impact on performance. It’s important to set boundaries and manage expectations to maintain that healthy work-life balance. For example, if your workload is becoming too much, you need to speak up and ensure your colleagues know not to keep adding to your “in-basket”.

Mallory acknowledges that saying no is easier said than done. “This is partly due to people’s pride, reputation and self-awareness,” she says. “We, as a society, need to de-stigmatise saying no when things get too much. Saying no can protect you from stress and burnout.”

Disregard social hype

We’ve all seen TikTok creators showing how productive they are and waking up at 5am. This “hustle culture” mentality is all around us, but it can have a negative impact on wellbeing, especially for the Gen Z social media user. Seeing these influencers can easily lead to people feeling overwhelmed and make them think they’re not doing enough. 

“While side hustle routines can be motivating for some, it’s important to consider what you are able to sustain to avoid burnout,” says Amfo. “Everyone should be wary of being on a hamster wheel.”

Reach out and ask for help

Seventy-four per cent of people feel stressed to the point of being overwhelmed or being unable to cope. If you reach this point, it may be time to speak to colleagues or HR.

Reaching out for help is also easier said than done, that’s why it’s important that everyone evaluates their own communication and interpersonal skills at work.

Amfo believes that employers should also take some responsibility, saying: “Managers and business leaders should be trained in spotting the signs if their employees’ wellbeing is low, and know how to manage the issue.”