Last week we discussed burnout, what causes it and the warning signs to watch out for in the workplace and in yourself.
Today we diving into what you can do to avoid burning out. While the most pressing thought at the forefront of your mind might be to quit, there are less drastic things you can do to relieve some of the bubbling mental pressure.
- Take a break.
I understand your first thought on reading that is “How can I take a break when everything is going wrong?” That’s exactly why you need time off. Even a long weekend – switched off from work calls and messages – can help ease your physical, mental and emotional pressure. You’ll achieve more on your return than you could have while you keep struggling.
- Change your environment.
For some people, walking into the office brings with it the crushing weight of stress. Why not work from home or even take your laptop and work in a café for a few hours? You will be surprised at the difference it makes to your mindset.
- Change your diet.
As your burnout increases, chances are you’ve turned to coffee or alcohol or even food to soothe your feelings. That’s OK in the short term but we both know it’s bad for your health. Your body needs good nutrition to function and it’s even more important during times like these. Replace those items with something healthier, like water, and your body will begin to work better and support you through these difficult times.
- Get some exercise.
We know exercise is good but it’s often the first thing people let go under stress. They don’t think they can afford the time away from work. Honestly, going for a walk in the fresh air is the best thing you can do. Don’t look at it as a waste of time because it’s not. It’s refuelling your body and freeing your mind. You’ll soon notice you have more energy and your brain will send out fewer negative thoughts.
- Set boundaries.
You are entitled to space. Even at this time, you’re entitled to keep work out of your private life. If you don’t have a sanctuary, where will you go to rest and recover? This isn’t something you have to justify. It’s an essential part of maintaining your ability to lead.
- Do something you love.
Watch a movie, go to your art classes, play games with your family, sit on the beach… Remind yourself that there’s more to life than a difficult workplace. Stop focusing on one area of life and get some balance back.
- Practise gratitude.
I know this sounds airy fairy to some people but it’s not. It has a practical function. When you’re feeling negative and cynical, finding something to be grateful for helps change the way your brain works. It helps put things back into proportion. The more you practise gratitude, the more easily your brain finds the good in things. Nothing seems as hopeless as it did before.
- Think positive.
This one takes a bit of effort because it’s about becoming aware of your negative thought patterns so you can challenge their truth. I suggest spending a few minutes throughout the day reviewing events that have happened and how you reacted to them. Pay attention to what you were thinking at the time. Blaming yourself, disaster thinking, anticipating negative results… You know those thoughts aren’t accurate; they’re a reflection of your mood and mindset. Learn to catch those thoughts and replace them with something more positive.
- Set goals.
When you’re experiencing burnout, you feel things are spiralling out of control and you’re not achieving anything. That’s unlikely to be true but you need to see progress to pull yourself out of that thought process. Set yourself a goal each day. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it does have to be something that’s leading you forward. Being able to tick off your daily goal makes you feel better and more in control.
- Talk to someone.
Keeping your feelings bottled up will eventually lead to a blow-up. Sharing them will ease the pressure you’re feeling. Whether it’s a mentor, friend or partner, talk about how
you’re feeling. Let it all out. We all need a shoulder to cry on at some stage in life. I’m sure you’ve been there for others and now it’s your turn.
I hope these tips are useful. You’ll find more resources for maintaining peak performance in my whitepaper which is available free on my website. You’re never too old to learn something which will change your life.
“Hi Linda, I just wanted to thank you for the unbelievable journey of your coaching over the last 6 months. Coming across Athena in a seminar format, I was initially impressed with your Peak Performance presentation and the way that you held the attendee’s attention and interest, definitely the best forum of this nature that I have attended. Our decision to engage your services has been totally enlightening for me:
- I have a much greater understanding of my strengths and how to leverage them to maximise performance
- More confidence in my management and interpersonal skills
- My communication style is more effective, and;
- My time is much better spent and efficient.
At 62, I did not believe that I could gain so much from coaching. Just goes to prove the old saying, “you are never too old to learn”.
D.K. – CEO (Mid-tier – Legal Software)
In the meantime, if you’re starting to burn out, put some of these strategies into place right now. Look after yourself.