During my 40-year career, I have experienced several episodes of complete burnout which had a profound effect on me and put me out of action for long periods of time.
If you have never experienced burnout, then you are doing very well because this is a silent epidemic which often goes undetected and under the radar. It creeps in silently and before you know it you have hit a brick wall.
You will recognise some signs that you are moving towards this and if you don’t act on them, you will eventually burnout. This is what happened to me on several occasions because I was very driven and believed that rest, lunch breaks and holidays were for wimps.
I felt out of control
I would experience a number of symptoms which were extremely difficult to handle but I would ignore them because I would have deadlines to hit, and I couldn’t let anyone down or fail. I kept pushing forward to my next deadline ignoring all the warning signs and hoping it would all come together in the end. I was also hating my life.
When I was the general manager of the Manchester Giants Basketball Club, I vividly remember working late into the night every day because there was so much to do on the marketing and PR front. The workload was immense, yet the pressure was 100% mine. No one told me to work that hard in fact they put no pressure on me at all.
I wanted it all now
I wanted everything to be sorted out quickly and I put my own time pressure on my role. The club was happy to see some progress during the season, but I wanted to have a massive impact on the club.
It was my perfectionism which was destroying me. Everything had to be perfect and as you are probably aware perfection is impossible to achieve. I remember one evening driving back from a meeting with supporters which hadn’t gone very well and thinking it would be so easy to just crash the car and end all this stress.
It was a fleeting thought but that is how bad things were at the time. I was all self-inflicted but at that time I didn’t have the knowledge or the tools to help myself. I do now and I am teaching many people how to balance their work and personal lives. What is amazing is they are all more productive, working fewer hours with less stress and far happier.
The joy of helping many people
I have a number of coaching clients I am working with, and it is such a joy to see them so much happier, content and energised. I can see massive changes between sessions. I am teaching them how to live a more peaceful life by working fewer hours and being more organised, productive, and far happier.
In my online sessions, I share my life as it is now where I am living the very things I am teaching. I love my life which is very organised and productive with a perfect work/life balance. I finish at a set time each day and have plenty of time to plan and complete the most important things on my list which produce the biggest results.
I don’t work weekends except writing this blog which I don’t see as work as I truly love writing these. And the biggest breakthrough for me was no longer working towards perfection but working towards excellence. Perfection isn’t achievable. Excellence is!
There is a massive price to pay
Burnout takes a toll on both physical and mental health. Exhaustion, sleep disturbances, weakened immune system, and increased susceptibility to illnesses are common physical consequences.
Mental health is equally affected, with burnout linked to higher rates of anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. The prolonged stress and strain experienced during burnout can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth, low self-esteem, and a loss of motivation and passion for work.
Impaired Work Performance
Burnout significantly impacts work performance and productivity. The exhaustion and emotional detachment associated with burnout can result in reduced focus, impaired concentration, and decreased cognitive abilities.
Decision-making may become compromised, leading to errors and poor judgment. As a result, individuals experiencing burnout may witness a decline in their professional effectiveness, negatively affecting their careers and the organizations they work for.
There is an answer
By recognizing the signs of burnout and taking steps to prevent and manage it, we can pave the way for healthier, happier, and more productive lives for ourselves and those around us. Avoiding burnout requires proactive steps to maintain physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Here are some strategies to help prevent burnout:
Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Define specific work hours and make time for activities outside of work that you enjoy and that promote relaxation and self-care. Avoid overextending yourself and learn to say no when necessary.
Prioritize Self-Care: Make self-care a priority. Engage in activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as regular exercise, getting sufficient sleep, eating nutritious meals, and practising relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises.
Take Regular Breaks: Incorporate regular breaks throughout your workday. Stepping away from work, even for a few minutes, can help refresh your mind and prevent mental exhaustion. Use breaks to engage in activities you enjoy, such as going for a walk, listening to music, or simply disconnecting from work-related tasks.
Cultivate Supportive Relationships: Build a strong support network of friends, family, and colleagues. Surround yourself with individuals who uplift and encourage you. Seek support and share your feelings and challenges with trusted individuals who can offer guidance, empathy, and understanding.
Practice Stress Management: Develop effective stress management techniques. Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as practising mindfulness, engaging in hobbies, pursuing creative outlets, or participating in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
Maintain Work-Life Balance: Strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance by allocating time for activities beyond work. Make time for hobbies, leisure activities, and spending quality time with loved ones. Ensure that you have a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction in all areas of your life, not solely from work-related activities.
Seek Variety and Challenge: Incorporate variety and challenge into your work routine. Monotony can contribute to burnout, so seek new opportunities or projects that stimulate and engage you. Set goals and create a sense of purpose and accomplishment in your work.
Monitor Stress Levels: Stay attuned to your stress levels and recognize the early signs of burnout. Regularly assess your physical and emotional well-being. If you notice signs of excessive fatigue, irritability, or diminished enthusiasm for work, take steps to address them proactively.
Remember, prevention is key when it comes to burnout. By implementing these strategies and prioritizing your well-being, you can reduce the risk of burnout and foster a healthier, more fulfilling work and personal life.
If you find yourself struggling with burnout despite your efforts, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor who can provide guidance and support tailored to your specific needs.
Thoughts for the week
- Are you experiencing the symptoms of burnout?
- Are you like an elastic band ready to snap?
- This week think about the stress you are under and if you need help.
- If you catch this quickly enough, you can avoid the serious impact of burnout.
- I am very happy to take on more online coaching clients to help, so if this is you or someone you know, please contact me at email@example.com
Well, that’s it for this week, have a wonderful weekend and keep believing.