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Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout: For Digital Learning Professionals

Digital learning experts thrive when they know how to manage stress and avoid burnout. Put these strategies to work for you and reclaim your motivation.


Digital learning is a demanding industry. Technology relentlessly evolves. Expectations for learning shift. The cycle of course creation and improvement is unrelenting. Add to all that the pressures of an ongoing pandemic, and it’s no wonder that so many digital learning professionals are dealing with stress and burnout. If you’re feeling overburdened, these tactics can help ease your stress and reconnect you with your purpose.

Recognizing the Effects of Stress

Stress is part of daily life. You probably know it well. It’s the tightness in your neck and shoulders. The faster beating of your heart. The tension in your mind and body. But stress is more than a feeling. It brings physical and mental effects as well.

Symptoms of stress include:

• headaches

• upset stomach

• trouble sleeping

• restlessness

• anxiety

• anger

• depression

Your work may suffer along with your motivation. You might find yourself overeating, withdrawing from friends and family, or losing your temper.

Stay stressed for too long, and you’re on the road to burnout. That empty overwhelmed feeling when you have nothing left to give but so much left to do. Tasks you once enjoyed become a burden.

Dire as all this seems, there are things you can do to manage stress and avoid burnout. Start by figuring out what is causing your stress.

Identifying Sources of Stress

We all have plenty of reasons to feel stressed right now. So it might seem counterproductive, or even self-indulgent, to list them all out. However, like the questions on an exam, different sources of stress require different solutions.

Some sources of stress are big and obvious: the pandemic or a looming project deadline. Others are smaller or more difficult to spot. They might seem like no more than minor irritations. But when you add them all together they equal increased stress.

Identifying the sources of your stress can help you address the smaller things that are in your control. Maybe your coworkers always seem to send you “urgent” emails ten minutes before the end of the workday. You end up scrambling to meet their needs and working late to do so. You can remove this stressor by changing your habit of checking email at the end of the day. Any email that could wait until 4:45 to be sent probably isn’t so urgent that it can’t wait until tomorrow morning when you’re fresh.

Of course, simple changes can’t fix everything. Some stressors are out of your control. That’s when you need strategies that help you manage stress.

Ways to Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout

Too often, we focus on distractions that don’t improve our resilience or peace of mind. You might feel momentarily soothed by drinking a glass of wine or zoning out with a Netflix binge, but the stress is still there when that experience is over. Long-term relief comes from habits and systems designed to help you manage stress rather than ignoring it.

Give Yourself Some Grace

Much as we want life to be back to normal, that hasn’t happened yet. Chastising yourself for not working hard enough isn’t doing you any favors. You can release some of the burden by accepting that you may not be as productive or as focused as you would like. Of course, that’s easier said than done. One tactic that may help is to talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a friend who was struggling. Replacing judgemental thoughts with compassionate ones can make a big difference.

Take Time Off Every Day

Even if you have a deadline looming, especially if you have a deadline looming, you need time to rest and recharge. Plenty of research has shown that shorter work days make us more productive. Your mind can only focus and problem-solve for so long before it craves downtime. Activities like naps, walks, and meditation can help. But the most effective strategy might be to stop working at the end of the workday. Don’t check work emails in the evening. Let after-hours calls go to voicemail. Seek out ways to improve your sleep, like avoiding screens before bed.

Move Your Body

Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good. Plus, it gives your mind a rest. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or bodybuilder to benefit from an exercise routine. Even a walk around the block or a living room dance session can boost your mood and relieve tension.

Remember Your Purpose

What attracted you to the digital learning industry in the first place? Why do you do this work? Recalling your purpose can help make daily tasks feel like progress toward a greater goal, rather than a series of disconnected challenges.

Ask For Help

You might feel uncomfortable asking for help, but it can do wonders for your stress levels and your relationships. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to coworkers or leaders about how you might redistribute work or create more realistic timelines. It might seem like you’re being a burden, but the truth is that helping others makes people feel better about themselves. Helping and accepting support also strengthens relationships, and strong social networks improve our ability to manage stress.

Celebrate Your Successes

The rapid pace of course development and training can push us to constantly look toward the next deadline. That leaves you feeling dissatisfied and overwhelmed. After you complete a project, deliver a course, or finish a module, stop and celebrate. You don’t have to throw a party. A celebration can be as simple as a deep breath and a smile. Congratulate your coworkers on a job well done. Congratulate yourself.

If an understaffed team or the search for a new job is increasing your stress levels, Teamed is here to help. We connect organizations with digital learning professionals. Easily hire exceptional new teammates or take the next step in your career with Teamed.

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