What Is Burnout And How Can We Avoid It?

THE BUSINESS GIRLS NETWORK DISCUSS BUSINESS GIRL BURNOUT

Burnout is a term that we seem to be hearing more and more in the working world we live in today. It's always been a problem, but perhaps it's something that's now hitting more of us thanks to the demands of the digital age in which we live. Work, family commitments, relationships and now more than ever, technology all constantly pulling us to the edge and hampering our ability to find balance and keep well.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Last week I attended a talk and networking event run by the Business Girls Network and focused on exactly this topic - the idea of burnout and how we can counteract it. So I thought I'd share a little of what I learned, in the hope that it may help any of you out there who are really feeling the pressure.

The talk was given by Lizzy Nichol of How We Eat Now, a writer and health coach who experienced true burnout first hand in her twenties, when training as a professional athlete. Lizzy now offers coaching to help people find their way to better health. She is passionate about enabling people in looking after their bodies, fight stress and sickness and begin to own their wellbeing in a more positive sense. 

So here's a look at what Lizzy talked us through with some thoughts on how we can take steps to avoid burning out and pull ourselves back to a more balanced state.

WHAT IS BURNOUT?

Burnout is a state of complete physical and mental exhaustion brought about by heightened and prolonged stress. It can wreak havoc in your working and personal life as you feel increasingly unable to meet the many and constant demands put upon you on a daily basis. Leading to sickness, serious self-doubt, a lack of mental motivation and a lack of physical ability to continue to get everything done. 

WHY SHOULD WE ACT NOW TO AVOID BURNING OUT?

If you hit that point of truly burning out and don't act on the early warning signs, then it can be incredibly hard, and take a long time, to bring yourself back to a place of wellness. From the perspective of your work and business, you may be worried about letting your level of productivity drop, but think of the impact on your business if you totally burnout and just can't work effectively at all for a prolonged period of time.

As Lizzy put it:

"What's the one renewable resource your business can't survive without?"

The answer of course is YOU!

We often feel that there's no way we can pull back from the demands of our working and daily lives. That if we say no, if we stop and take a break, everything will fall apart. Yet we fail to consider the repercussions of carrying on until the point that we drop. Taking a short step back now to redress your situation will have a far less negative impact than continuing until your mind and body literally force you to do so.

SO HOW CAN WE AVOID IT?

You need to be candid with yourself and honest about your situation. Recognise the early warning signs and take steps to counteract them.

As Lizzy discussed, look at tackling burnout by understanding your needs, think about your own personal sustainability plan to incorporate things such as nutrition, exercise and adequate rest.

Make sure you set boundaries that work for you. Don't say yes to everything, understand your current commitments and don't be afraid to say no when you need to in order to maintain a sustainable workload.

Technology is a big one for our working lives these days. Gone are the days when you left your emails at the office until the next morning, and let's not even get started on the rising impact of social media! With all of our devices offering instant access to our working worlds 24/7 we're suddenly finding ourselves switched on all of the time, and it's just not healthy.

You see I personally can actually remember a time before iPhones and the Blackberry brought work into our homes even after the working day had ended! Today, with everything on tap, we're used to being able to contact each other constantly, sometimes without even thinking whether it's really all that necessary right there and then. If you see it you feel obliged to act on it, even though it's quite possible that whatever it is will wait until the following day without any real or major consequence.

Finally think what do you really do for you? 

When Lizzy discussed this in her presentation she spoke about how she has this question on her initial consultation form and is always intrigued to see what people put as an answer. Many don't complete it at all whilst others say things like, spending time with my kids or going to the gym.

Now these are all great things but they still aren't truly and solely for you. They are things that are still necessary in some way or another and whilst they may bring you enjoyment in the process, they aren't something you are choosing to do purely for your own individual happiness and sense of wellness. 

Now of course to many this might seem incredibly indulgent and impossible to fit in as part of the daily juggle of work and life. However it doesn't have to be a huge thing, just something that offers a little bit of you time and a chance to switch off. Reading, walking, taking a bath, something every now and again that allows you to re-connect with yourself.

I know it can seem so very hard and at times completely impossible to avoid stress and to keep yourself on a even keel. The thing is that the alternative is not a nice option, and if you aren't able to take steps to pull yourself back to a more manageable place then sadly it's unlikely anyone else will do it for you.

We talk about work-life balance as if it's a constant state of equilibrium to which we should aspire. I like to think of it instead, as a place to which we always need to try and bring ourselves back to when things have become too much. It's impossible to remain consistently balanced on that tricky precipice of work and life. It is instead, possible to check in with ourselves every now and again and make sure we try to even out as best as we can, adjusting things as necessary to bring us back to a more central place.

There's only one you and you have to take care of yourself.

 

I hope you've found these thoughts and ideas useful. Have you ever experienced, or been close to burning out? How did you deal with it and do you have any advice you'd like to share?

Louise

 

FURTHER READING

More on the subject of burnout and wellness: 

The Law Of Wellness (As Illustrated By This Dude!) - How We Eat Now

More on the Business Girls Network:

Amanda Ayres Discusses The Importance Of Supporting Women In Business

Business Girls Network: A Private Reception With Theresa May MP