By Sam Clarke | 12 May, 2022

Tackling Workplace Burnout: Our Advice

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Whether your organisation spans offices worldwide and has a multimillion-pound turnover or is a home-based, family-run company, we understand that running your own business can often be challenging. Establishing a business should be an exciting and liberating time, but from admin to accounting, your organisation may face hurdles which could leave you or your team feeling disheartened or stressed.  

Workplace burnout is a topic that is dominating headlines currently – the term was even officially recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an occupational phenomenon in 2019, and one in five of us feel unable to manage stress and pressure in the workplace. You wouldn’t be alone in feeling anxious about deadlines or stressed about projects! 

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so here at Saul Fairholm we are sharing tips on how to avoid burnout and take care of your mental health. And remember, our friendly team is only a phone call away if you’d like to take away the stress of doing your own accounting, payrolls, self-assessment, or VAT! 

What is mental health? 

Mental health is emotional well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and how we respond to stress, people, and decisions – it’s just as important as your physical health. Having good mental health doesn’t mean being happy 100% of the time! Everyone experiences sadness, grief, guilt, stress, and anger. The main takeaway is how we can deal with these emotions, especially if they’re correlating with patterns in our careers and workloads. Below are some tips for managing stress and burnout. 

It’s important to keep in mind that our list consists of advice, not answers; options that work well for some people may not work for others. Reach out to a healthcare professional or a trusted friend or family member if you need further help.  

Our advice: 

  • Set boundaries with your workload. Taking on too many projects or helping others before finishing your own tasks can often leave you without time for yourself and become draining. It’s okay to say no to things you don’t have the capacity for; be assertive when explaining your limits and ask for help when you need it.  
  • Evaluate your options. If you have concerns, discuss these with your supervisor in private. You may be able to work together to change workplace expectations or raise concerns and queries. Remember to set goals and priorities – some jobs may need to be done immediately while others can be prioritised lower down the list. 
  • Don’t let your career intrude on your personal life. As a company we offer staff flexible working hours and homeworking to help with their work-life balance. A good work-life balance is key to avoiding burnout; there is no prize for being the busiest person in the office or regularly finishing work late! Remember to take your annual leave entitlement, don’t work over your contracted hours (unless absolutely necessary and if so, don’t make a habit of it!), and make a conscious effort to steer clear of discussing work too much at home and in social circles. If you can, keep a work laptop and phone to separate your work from your personal life. 
  • Congratulate yourself on the ‘small wins’. From completing a project you’ve been struggling with, to getting your kids out the door on time before work, take the time to acknowledge what you’ve done well, both recently and in the past. These small achievements add up to big milestones! 
  • Connect with the people around you. If you feel able to, let others know when you’re feeling stressed, and explain what could help you. This could be helping you with a simple task when it feels overwhelming, listening to you talk things through, or just chatting with you to help take your mind off it. If you can’t or don’t want to talk to your friends and family, that’s okay! You can find a list of helplines and support channels at the bottom of this article. 
  • Take up a hobby. Remember to keep your free time for yourself where possible. Keeping busy can help distract from difficult thoughts or feelings or help you to process them. Maybe this is the time to take up a new hobby or restart an old one!  
  • Establish a good sleep routine. That includes the wind-down before bed! For example, putting away any bright screens and avoiding caffeine and alcohol can promote better night-time sleep. On average, adults need around eight hours of sleep per night. If you’re ill, elderly, or pregnant, that number might differ. 
  • Exercise! Physical activity releases some great stress-management hormones: cortisol and endorphins. You don’t have to be down the gym for several hours at the crack of dawn (unless you want to be). Just a walk or run a few times a week will get you out the house, give you a clearer headspace, and get those happy hormones flowing. You could also combine this with other feel-good activities, such as seeing a friend, or running an errand. 

There are a variety of options on hand to help through burnout and points of low mental health. If you’re in the position to consider therapy, then talking or arts therapies can be incredibly beneficial to working through any issues and establishing some helpful coping mechanisms. Peer support, such as support groups, forums and online communities, can also be helpful.  

If you need help in the short term, consider contacting one of the helplines below: 

  • If you want someone to talk to: Samaritans – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), or email jo@samaritans.org 
  • If you’re feeling suicidal: you can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652 (open 24/7). 
  • If you’d prefer not to speak on the phone: text the word ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 to have a text conversation with a Shout volunteer. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) offer a webchat service.  
  • If you’re under 25: The Mix is specifically aimed at younger people. Call 0808 808 4994 (3pm–midnight every day) or visit their website for other options. 
  • If you’re LGBT+: all Switchboard phone operators identify as LGBT+. Call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day), email chris@switchboard.lgbt or use their webchat service.