9 Tips to Prevent Burnout – Voices of Experience

Nine terrific, and it turned out, very generous and experienced women, joined me as I hosted the lunch and workshop: Three Common Mistakes Professional Women Make that Keep Them Feeling Exhausted and Overwhelmed, with the help of my amazing assistant Kit Boulter (creator of the beautiful food trays pictured here).food tray

The group’s discussion became especially engaged around the subject of burnout ( “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress”.) after I shared this quote from Give and Take by Adam Grant:

Since givers (people who give more than they get) tend to put others’ interests ahead of their own, they often help others at the expense of their own well-being, placing them at risk for burnout. Four decades of extensive research shows that when people become burned out, their job performance suffers.   Exhausted employees struggle to focus their attention and lack the energy to work their longest, hardest and smartest, so the quality and quantity of their work takes a nosedive.   They also suffer from poorer emotional and physical health.   Strong evidence reveals that burned out employees are at heightened risk for depression, physical fatigue, sleep disruptions, impaired immune systems, alcohol abuse, and even cardiovascular disease.

It so happened that a number of the women in my living room that day had experienced burnout first hand. They were open and courageous enough to share the wisdom of their experience with us.    There were so many ideas and resources flying around the room that, afterwards, with their permission, I decided to write this blog post so we could catch most of the wisdom to share with them and also with you.

Here is some of the wisdom that was shared by the women in attendance, with my comments added:

Signs/symptoms of burnout:

  • anxiety
  • feeling foggy
  • shaky
  • out of breath
  • irritable
  • high blood pressure
  • unable to do as much as before
  • panic attacks

(from Milisa: see more on sign/symptoms from the Mayo Clinic: Job burnout: How to spot it and take action)

Tips for Prevention:

1) Exercise – yoga, swimming, running, biking, hiking, combination of cardio, stretch and meditative, for mind, body and spirit

App – Yoga Studio – There are  different options for the length and intensity of the workout, and you can run it on your phone.

(from Milisa– I have just downloaded this and am looking forward to trying it.)

2) Meditation – experiment here, try longer and shorter. Just three minutes has been shown to be valuable.   When you get overwhelmed or stressed in the middle of the day take three minutes to meditate – see a guided meditation below.

  • Calm App
  • Brain Sync guided meditations by Kelly Howell – she offers a free 3 minute guided meditation
  • Headspace App – initial offering is free: Take Ten – 10 minutes a day of meditation for 10 days. (from Milisa: I tried this some time ago and found it very educational and calming. A short educational video precedes each meditation so you build on your learning every day in small chunks. A really effective, approachable way to get started with meditating.)
  • Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation for Success
  • MARC – Meditation and Research Centre at UCLA free guided meditations on iTunes U ( recommended by Milisa – a few very short 3 or 5 minute meditations. They helped get me started with meditating when I was feeling intimidated by it.)

3) Healthy Diet – less sugar, less salt, more balanced fruit, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates etc…, (helps especially to fight the physical symptoms eg. metabolic syndrome   which is high blood sugar, high BP, high cholesterol etc…)

(From Milisa: Here’s a blog post from Liz Pearson to get you started: Top Five Things You Need to Know About Snacking  Liz is the co-author, with Mairlyn Smith, of one of my all time favourite cookbooks Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health.  I have pinned my favourite cookbooks here.)

4) Practice Gratitude – from one of the participants: “I’m reviewing the good things about the day or my life before going to sleep… and sometimes during the day if I’m feeling worried or negative about things.”

(See Milisa’s  blog posts on this for lots of ideas since there are so many ways of practicing gratitude and there is no one size fits all solution – Gratitude Part I and Gratitude Part II)

5) Create Focus…stop multitasking, focus on one thing at a time,

(See Milisa’s blog post Focus on Focusing and Feel Fantastic)

6) Relinquish Control – Trust others as part of your team, for example, your partner, children, colleagues, and neighbors.  Your own ideas may be good, but others are just as worthy and sometimes even better at solving issues that involve them!  The freedom of giving up control can be cathartic!

(From Milisa – this is incredibly wise advice!!!)

7) Sleep

(from Milisa: YES! Here’s a post on sleep: Sweet Slumber: What’s your favorite bedtime routine?  This post contains a great quote from Arianna Huffington about sleep: Meeting a Woman on a Mission )

8) Time for Yourself  – Reading, gardening, friends, etc… “My sister said to me just last night while taking a leisurely walk with friends that Monday evening is the new Saturday!  Why not?  30 minutes to read a book on a Wednesday evening before making dinner?  Why not?”

(From Milisa – this is healthy selfishness and we so need it on a regular basis! Make room for you!)

9) Take full advantage of other resources – Family doctor, EAP, friends, colleagues, group peer support etc…

So there are the nine tips for you to help prevent burnout.

If you would like some further reading, have a look at this: Harvard Business Review: How to be Productive Without Burning Out. I was out with my husband on a date a few hours after the workshop and after dinner we strolled over to the neighbourhood magazine store (sadly, the local bookstore has closed, so magazines are the next best thing).   The HBR magazine was the first title that jumped out at me was.   Needless to say, I bought it. I will work some of it’s wisdom into a future post.

I am really grateful to the women who agreed to share their wisdom with the rest of us. If this wisdom was helpful to you, please do leave a comment below to express your gratitude to them. I will make sure that they see your comments.

 

 

2 Responses to 9 Tips to Prevent Burnout – Voices of Experience
  1. Paula Vital
    May 6, 2015 | 3:17 pm

    Great post, Milisa! One I would add to the list is be conscious about the choices you make. So often we say yes a bit too fast, or commit to activities that do not feed our deepest desires. Saying no to something that may at first seem attractive has been to me a great way to prevent burnout!

    • Milisa Burns
      June 2, 2015 | 3:03 pm

      Thanks for your comment Paula! Yes, be conscious, be mindful since we are always making choices- a good reminder!

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