15 Ways to Overcome Burnout

Prolonged stress or red mind can lead to burnout. Research shows this state can be reduced or eliminated by being in, on, near, or under water. — Wallace J. Nichols

Preventing burnout protects your overall health and your career. However, if the way you work changed radically over the past year, your old defenses may not be enough. How do you know if you’re burned out?

Some of the most common signs include depression, irritability, and lack of motivation. You may feel tired and unable to control your circumstances, a condition author Wallace J. Nichols calls red mind. When this state is allowed to continue unaddressed over time, your physical health can be affected too, putting you at increased risk for heart conditions, diabetes and other medical conditions.

If you’re feeling down or your productivity has dropped, you can recover. Try these 15 strategies for bouncing back from (and preventing) burnout.

During Work Hours:

  1. Evaluate your expectations. Burnout is often caused by pushing yourself too hard for too long. Look at your to-do list and see what you can eliminate or delegate. Focus on your top priorities.
  2. Set goals. Working towards something you want to achieve provides instant inspiration. Break long term objectives down into daily and weekly targets, so you’ll keep building momentum.
  3. Limit distractions. Burnout makes it difficult to concentrate. Create quiet spaces where you can work at the office or at home. Turn off your phone and stay away from websites and apps where you tend to lose track of time.
  4. Phone a friend. Do you feel isolated or have more conflicts with your coworkers? Burnout can take a toll on your relationships. Participate in social activities at work. If you feel safe, talk with your boss or a trusted colleague about what you’re going through.
  5. Have fun. Brighten up your workday. Join the party planning committee. Recent research shows the best way to combat videoconference fatigue is to PLAY! Lighten up, and have some fun.
  6. Pace yourself. How many hours are you working a week? Research shows that excess overtime lowers your performance. You’re more likely to succeed with a 35-to-40-hour week.
  7. Take time off. It may help to get away from your routines for a while. If possible, use your vacation days to visit family and friends in another city. If you’re short on leave, you could try a spa day at home or check into a local hotel for the weekend.
  8. Reconnect with your mission. It’s easy to get so caught up in the details of daily life and lose sight of what matters most to you. Press pause, and take a moment to reflect on the big picture. Discover a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Sometimes we need to remember what it’s all about. What’s on your horizon? What legacy would you most like to leave? Book time with a coach to explore these questions.

Outside of Work Hours:

Practice mindfulness for effective leadership.
  1. Address root causes. While there are many things you can do to cope with burnout temporarily, lasting change depends on resolving the source of your troubles. Maybe it’s an event at work, or maybe it has more to do with your disposition or personal life. Book time with a coach to explore these questions.
  2. Set boundaries. Remote work blurs the line between business and leisure activities. Try to keep office items out of your bedroom. Let your team know the hours when you’re unavailable, and honor their boundaries to model behavior.
  3. Sleep well. Go to bed on time, so you can wake up feeling refreshed. Stick to a consistent schedule, even on weekends and holiday. Creating an evening bedtime ritual can help you relax and prepare your mind to sleep.
  4. Work out. Physical activity relieves stress and gives you more energy. Design a balanced program of cardio exercise, strength training, and stretches. Good old-fashioned sweat can be cleansing and therapeutic for the mind as well.
  5. Find your Water. Research shows that exposure to blue mind – being on, in, under or near water – will not only interrupt the red mind state, but it can also renew, restore, and reinvigorate the deeper intrinsic motivation to thrive. Go for a swim, take a shower, listen to a fountain or waterfall, look at photos of your last trip to the lake. Join a session of Blue Health Coaching.
  6. Learn to relax. Manage daily tensions with stress-relieving activities. Listen to instrumental music or work on your hobbies. Develop a mindfulness practice.
  7. Consider counseling. If your burnout symptoms persist, you may benefit from working with a professional therapist. Some employers have extended mental health benefits as a result of COVID-19. If you’re on a limited budget, contact a community hotline to explore low-cost services.

Burnout can seem overwhelming, but you probably have more options than you think. Change your daily habits and ask others for help if you’re struggling. By taking intentional, constructive steps forward, you will be able to regain a healthy work-life integration and increase overall life satisfaction.

Contact us to learn more or book your free coaching consultation today.

Standing at the Precipice

This Green Sea Turtle comes in for a closer look at divers in Grand Bahama.

 

Here I stand at the precipice of a new adventure – one I never would have predicted. My journey has included many twists, turns, peaks, valleys, heartaches and thrill rides. However, this next challenge will require courage of leaving what is secure and familiar, in favor of travel and research for the benefit of sea turtles and STEM interns everywhere!

Growing up on the San Joaquin River Delta, I have always been a water baby. Whether camping at the beach, deep sea fishing with my parents, waterskiing with friends and siblings, or simply relaxing on the boat, being on or near the water has always been my favorite place of peace, comfort and solace. However, my love, respect, and healthy fear of the ocean, and specifically large creatures with big teeth, prevented me from learning to scuba dive and pursuing a career in Marine Biology.  Instead, I discovered I had a keen interest  in observing human behavior, and specifically understanding how adult human beings learn. Consequently, I went on to study education and instructional design. For the past 20 years, my professional career has been relatively secure, focused on designing corporate learning solutions to address the various challenges and competencies required for successful business leadership development. 

Eight years ago, I made the decision to face my greatest fear: I was going to learn to scuba dive or literally die trying! Knowledge Reviews were fairly straightforward. Learning the skills in the pool came quite naturally. After gearing up, walking directly into the ocean, and being slapped in the face with that first icy wave, I realized I had a conscious choice to make. Fortunately, I chose to press on, trust my instructor, and rely on my training to get through this certification. Anyone who dives the Breakwater in Monterey in April knows that there are days when visibility can be spectacular. This was not one of those days. After a 200 yard surface swim out to the buoy, students were instructed to descend in buddy pairs with the instructional staff, kneel on the bottom, grasping the marker line and wait for our turn to demonstrate the skills. Visibility might have been 2 feet that day, due to sand churned up from surf and surge. Remarkably, I was quite relaxed, holding the line and waiting for my instructor’s hand to emerge and signal the skill for me to perform.  While this was not my first (nor my last) learning edge, it certainly has been a pivotal one. And I am ever grateful for the whole new world that was opened up to me that day. In fact, I love it so much that I now have the privilege of introducing others to the wonder of our marine environments by teaching scuba. 

Today, it is not by accident that I stand at the precipice of a whole new adventure. I have resigned the security of my full time job in corporate learning and leadership development, in pursuit of what appears to be the intersection of my passions:  leadership, learning, ocean and environmental stewardship. This week I will embark on a new adventure, no doubt filled with daily lessons, challenges, struggles, discoveries, friendships and opportunities. This new adventure marks a merging of my passions for the benefit of doctoral research, as I have the privilege to participate in an international internship to explore the efficacy of developing leaders in STEM fields through hands-on practical field research. While the work with sea turtles is not the primary research, it will be the work of my internship. However, my real research contributions will be to measure the efficacy of the program, understanding aspects like: How are participants impacted by the experience? How does it shape future choices to become marine ecologists, conservationists, socially and ecologically responsible citizens of this blue marble? Will they continue to pursue careers in STEM fields? To what degree will they be transformed by the experience? What will make the program even more effective? How are leaders in STEM fields developed?

It is my hope and intention that this internship experience will inform my doctoral research, focusing at the intersection of Leadership, Social Responsibility and Ecological Sustainability. Simultaneously, this internship coincides with #100DaysofBlue, during which I will be documenting the effects of being near, on, in, or under water.