A young professional, Janice, has always been one of my favorite mentees. I find their optimism contagious. And when she saw a colleague in need, she was the first to offer help or spare some sage advice. She also always had a comforting anecdote to tell when things seemed bleak. But then this year I noticed a change in her normally upbeat personality.
“I’m pretty sure it’s not going to get any better,” she said over coffee and croissants. It was this uncharacteristic cynicism that alerted me that something was wrong.
At the time of our conversation, we were sitting in a beautiful cafe surrounded by delicious sweets, and yet nothing seemed to lift her spirits.
I knew that kind of feeling and behavior. Burnout creeps up here like it’s out of a textbook: I rob us of little pleasures and only let us see the negative. I’ve been there and I know how easy it can be to get lost in its trenches. However, I have also learned that there is a better way to find a balance in our work and personal lives to protect ourselves from reaching this point. I would like to share four strategies that have helped me combat overwork and achieve a more harmonious way of life.
Discard perfectionist tendencies
One of the first things I noticed about Janice when we first met was that she was a full blown perfectionist. For one, she was an avid mentee, always taking notes and making every effort to ensure her projects were successful.
I admired their courage and determination, but pushed to the extreme, I could also see the pitfalls. See, I’m a recovering perfectionist myself. And I know firsthand how this mindset can impede our progress.
Rehashing even the smallest mistakes and looking at everything through a magnifying glass may make us seem “meticulous,” but we’re actually playing the game of self-blame. ‘Cause if we don’t get things preciselywe start mentally berating ourselves – a surefire way to burnout.
Fast company Contributor Tracy Brower writes that staying on top of things is essential for us to keep our balance. “Give yourself some leeway and don’t expect perfection. Keep a sense of humor and remember you’re always learning and you won’t always get it right.”
For me, focusing on my own personal development and continuous improvement ultimately helped me overcome these perfectionist tendencies.
Boost your self-confidence
Insecurity about our own abilities makes it easier for us to reach burnout because we constantly question every decision.
That’s what I say to every mentee: We have to accept that we fail. But if we want to increase that sense of psychological safety, it’s important that we believe in our own abilities.
To avoid burnout episodes, we need to focus on the qualities that have made us successful – like hard work, perseverance, and tireless effort. One of the suggestions I made to Janice was to keep a file on her desktop with all of her past and present challenges and achievements. So that whenever she started getting upset about the future, she would have immediate proof of what she has already overcome.
Recognize when you are at the limit
The pandemic continues to shape work culture, and many people have become so used to juggling multiple tasks both at work and at home that they have trouble seeing when they are lighting the candle at both ends.
In Janice’s case, she hadn’t realized that she was showing some of the classic signs of burnout, including becoming more cynical, lack of energy, and dissatisfaction with one’s accomplishments. It wasn’t until I mentioned it to her over coffee that she began to pay attention to her own needs.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to know if you’re getting to this point. First, are you managing excessive stress? And do you have trouble sleeping and later feel tired or irritable for most of the day?
In order to regain balance, we must first take stock of our physical and emotional well-being and become familiar with our limitations.
Practice continuous mindfulness
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Spending too much time planning, problem solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be exhausting. It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.”
I am fortunate to have come across many tools to help me process the high demands of my job. Of course, mindfulness isn’t just a one-time practice — it’s an ongoing practice in which we focus on the present moment to relax our mind and body. Daily body scans and practicing yoga have helped me maintain my awareness every day.
Overall, making a commitment to unplugging for a certain amount of time each day is one of the key lessons I’ve learned as a leader in finding better balance and staving off the damaging effects of burnout.
I am also a big supporter of Walking meditations outdoors. It’s one of the mindfulness practices I recommended to Janice that day. Taking time out and reconnecting with nature helps quiet our brains and activate our senses. In many ways it brings us back to ourselves.
Aytekin Tank is the founder of jot forman online form builder.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90736463/struggling-to-fight-burnout-this-may-be-the-missing-fix-you-need?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner A simple strategy to ensure you don’t struggle with burnout forever