What is burnout?
Burnout has become a really common concern for those working in the corporate world. With work becoming increasingly difficult to switch off from, many of us are finding ourselves mentally and emotionally exhausted. Prolonged and excessive stress can lead us to a state of burnout but what triggers it and how we react to it is very different person to person.
Burnout can creep up on us all. It certainly did for me even though I thought I’d put all the mechanisms in place to avoid it. It turns out, I didn’t so in this blog I’ll give you my most useful tips on what has helped me recover from burnout and how I now maintain sustainable growth and performance.
You may be thinking: “Come on, I hear it everywhere that I should be doing more exercise but how on earth do I fit it in when I’m already busy? Also, I feel so exhausted I couldn’t think of anything worse than a workout!” I FEEL YOU but hear me out.
This was my exact thought process, but I tell you now, prioritise working out and this alone will help you feel better. Your body is meant to be active and when you’ve spent all day at a desk and on calls, your mind has been active but your body has literally not moved.
Get out for a walk, a jog or do an online body weight exercise session the minute you log off and you will not regret it. Exercise is not only good for the body but gives your mind space. I find going for a run straight after work helps me process the day, come up with new ideas and work out solutions to the problems I encountered that day. Regardless of all this, you’ll feel so much more positive by the time you have finished the workout, even if it’s just 20-30 minutes. Release those endorphins and finish your day off feeling positive.
A little bit of stress is good. It pushes us out of our comfort zone, allowing us to learn new things and improve our performance. However, consistent exposure to stress without the appropriate rest periods leads to burn out.
Taking the time to rest is actually incredibly difficult. We feel a need to keep going, keep sending emails, keep getting through our to do list because this activity makes us feel efficient. The reality is, we can’t work efficiently and without error under stress for a long period of time, we need a break to recover and improve!
Similarly, to working out, if you want to grow your biceps and you keep lifting weights without letting your muscle recover and grow, your biceps will burnout. Athletes work through iterative cycles to improve their performance in a sustainable way. We aren’t all athletes, but we can cycle through the stress and rest process to ensure a sustainable performance.
Finish work at a reasonable time and enjoy your evenings work free. Do a workout, watch something on Netflix then get an early night. Similarly, take your holidays! Long weekends are great, but a full fortnight is even better. Don’t be tempted to take your work phone, just forget work, relax, rest and recuperate.
Remember that you do not live to work
It’s easy to be consumed by work and let it takeover. It pays the bills so it’s important, and we also tend to buy into the goals and deliverables of our employer, and we work hard to build our professional reputation. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but when you are sacrificing your personal relationships, hobbies and allowing it to get in the way of your living your life, then it can become overwhelming.
I dedicated so much time and energy to my job, sacrificing time with my family and friends and giving up my hobbies. It wasn’t worth it. Yes I learned a lot but I realised, at the end of the day I’m replaceable to a company but the things I missed out on in my personal life experiences are irreplaceable.
We all like to think we are irreplaceable in our work, but this can add more pressure to us. You do not live to work, and work doesn’t need to consume your life.
Eat well and definitely take a lunch break
I’ve been guilty of a meal deal with crisps and a chocolate bar in between meetings and it’s not good. Having a good balanced diet will help you get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to work at its best and with lunch being one of your three main meals, it’s super important to get it right.
Block at least 30 minutes out of your calendar every day and make sure you get a proper meal. Have something nutritious, contribute to your 5 a day and drink plenty of water. No tea and coffee don’t count! Eating well can help your body deal with the biological changes brought on by stress, check out this article from BBC Good Food. : https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/stress-diet-can-foods-help
At first I was confused as to how I’d managed to burn out as I felt like I was doing some of the right things but in reality couldn’t switch my mind off to work. I’d given up my hobbies and I felt far too exhausted to exercise. It can happen to anyone, but I’ve now put in place the things I need to in order to prevent it happening again. Everyone is different and there will be other techniques that work better for others, but a good diet and exercise and universal for us all.
Try these tips just for a week and I think you’ll see an immediate difference. Get in touch and let me know how you get on! I’d love to hear your thoughts and hear your progress. If you are interested in learning more about the coaching and mentoring I offer then please get in touch. To keep up to date with my blogs and for more hints and tips, sign up to my newsletter below.