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.

Let Your Light Shine!

The world needs more light. Not more electricity or fluorescence or technology, but the warm, brightly burning ray that shines from within when you are your best self. Who are you when you are most proud of yourself?

Over time, fear, exhaustion and shame can dim the brightest of lights, especially during this season. For this reason, we must keep that flame inside burning bright, choose the path of light and love, and allow your brilliance to be seen.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that you can use to rekindle your spark every day. Here are four steps you can take everyday to reignite your light:

1. Be grateful. Tell the people around you that you appreciate them. Give thanks for the food you eat and the roof that you sleep under. Smile. Say thank you. Gratitude magnifies your feelings of goodwill, helping you stay focused on the good stuff. Whether you say out loud or write it down in a journal, this exercise can help you reconnect with what matters most to you.

2. Exercise. Sweating and moving for just 20 minutes a day has been clinically shown to improve your mood & boost your health. Try a yoga class, ride your bike around town, or go for a swim or a walk. Not only will the increased blood flow to your brain re-energize you, but your creativity, innovation and natural problem-solving become activated.

3. Meditate. Regardless of your faith, research shows that spending time in reflective silence reconnects you with your source of self-awareness, self-assuredness & happiness. Peace and restoration flow from being centered and mindful. As a wonderful secondary benefit, it’s also been shown to greatly reduce stress & improve communication.

4. Get to water. There is surprising scientific research that shows the neurological (& other) benefits of being near, in, on, or under water, including reduced stress, increased happiness, and improved performance. Whether it’s the ocean, lakes, streams, puddles, or a shower… get to the water. Get your Blue Mind on. #BlueMindLife

  • What can YOU do to let your light shine a little brighter TODAY?
  • What other practices do you use to refocus your light?

If we can be of service to you in reconnecting with your sense of purpose, vision for the future or what matters to you most, please visit our website, contact us today or click here to schedule time for a coaching conversation.

Our mission is to help you become the best version of yourself.

Be the Light.

Develop or Become Obsolete: Part II – Your Professional Development

“Develop or Become Obsolete!” was the rally cry of a former HR executive during a season of intense organizational change. It was his way of encouraging us to become greater than we ever imagined.  As stated in my last post,  this quote has become a foundation of what I believe it takes for business professionals (or athletes, for that matter) to remain competitive and successful contenders at the top of their game over time.  We must continually learn, develop, grow and expand our skill sets, so that we may not only keep up with our customer demands, but also outpace our competition.

My coaching clients are typically focused on development in one (or a combination) of four domains: Personal, Professional, Leadership or Business. Today we will continue this four-part series with a focus on Professional Development.

Professional Development

No matter what role we play in society or position we take in business, our jobs require us know and do certain things, even beyond the technical skills. To be successful in any kind of business, we must learn how to have intelligent business conversations, make decisions, negotiate contracts, deliverables and timelines, manage projects, run meetings, develop and deliver presentations, and sell our products. We must learn the business of conducting business.

For example, when we teach interns to become professional employees, the key differentiators are communication, teamwork and influencing skills. There are fundamental skills that professionals must learn without exception, and then there are the professional skills that truly differentiate one person from the rest. We expect our employees not only to show up, deliver results and submit reports. We also expect them to build rapport with stakeholders and customers, communicate with management and team members, and influence colleagues without authority. At first, some of these professional skills might seem awkward or unnatural. But the reality is those who develop mastery in these “soft skills” receive more recognition and promote faster. Moreover, these are the professionals who get invited by leaders to participate in mentoring, interesting projects, both developing their capability and accelerating their success.

The same is true in any profession. 

There are technical skills, and there are the key differentiators. What are the skills that truly set people apart from the competition in your field of expertise?

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear sounds something like this, “I need to add a professional development goal to my plan. What classes or workshops are coming up?”  Now, I like promoting my workshops as much as anyone. But classroom or traditional learning is only the seed. What matters most comes after the workshop: How is the seed fostered, watered, and nourished to grow? How is the new learning reported back to the team, applied on the job or given feedback?  What follow up support do you need to ensure growth of your newly developed skills?

The most often cited learning goal I hear is the need to develop presentation (or public speaking) skills. Of course, the research shows fear of public speaking is among the top 5 greatest fears people report (usually up there with death, spiders and snakes).  However, the good news is skills can be learned.  When clients ask me, “How do I develop public speaking skills?” Guess what I tell them. The best way to learn presentation skills is to give presentations.  They hate it. But they know it’s true.  So I recommend Toastmasters or Rotary clubs or other opportunities to stand up, express a thought and receive feedback.  In our Powerful Presentations workshops, participants will profile their audience, develop the message content, practice delivering the presentation, and receive feedback, including a video recording. Practice is vital.

Suggestions for Professional Development:

  • Read a book or subscribe to audio books. Not only do you learn interesting information, hear fascinating stories, but also you are developing a stronger vocabulary as a secondary benefit!
  • Take a class (or webinar). One tremendous benefit of being a knowledge worker society is we have access to more wonderful learning opportunities and experiences than we might have ever imagined.  Peruse our workshops on Powerful Presentations, Creating Your Brand, Leading in Times of Change, and the Ultimate Career Makeover to name a few. Follow me on social media for a plethora of suggested programs.
  • Check out your local Small Business Administration,  Chamber of Commerce or professional associations for additional offerings.
  • Tell your colleagues what you learned and ask them to give you feedback. For participants in my Powerful Presentations workshop, they must ask someone to observe them in meetings and give feedback when they present. This can be done with many different professional skills. This is particularly effective when experimenting or practicing new techniques.
  • Consider how you will apply new skills in your current job.  Post reminders around your workspace to prompt new thinking, new behaviors, and new habits.
  • Identify motivators. Be very clear about how this new skill will raise your game.  Tell people.
  • Find a mentor.  Identify someone who exemplifies the skill. Watch them. Ask them questions, observe their behavior and apply what works for you to your own situation.
  • Practice. Practice. Practice.  I played softball through college, and my dad would say, “What you do in practice is what you will do in the game. Make it count.”
  • Hire a coach. Elite athletes do it. Executive leaders do it. Sometimes only the coach is able to provide feedback that other stakeholders may not be willing or able to give. When performance is important enough to succeed, it’s worth the investment.
  • Don’t miss our special self-paced online Courage, Risks and Rewards Program, which we are offering at a special low price through the month of February.

Next time, I will continue the discussion with a focus on Leadership Development. Meanwhile, stay connected with us on social media, enroll in a workshop, contact us with your suggestions and feedback, or schedule a Complimentary Coaching Consultation to determine which solution best fits your needs.

©2017 Blue Horizon Solutions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Top 10: Ways to Lead by Example

Good leaders must lead by example. Through their actions, which are aligned with what they say, they become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership. Here are 10 of the dozens of ways to lead by example.

1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.

2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.

3. Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.

4. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.

5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.

6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.

7. Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.

8. Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.

9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!

10. Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.

 Learn. Lead.  Leave a Legacy.