burnout

Steps to Avoiding Burnout — Wherever You’re Working From

Sarah Katherine Tucker
Sarah Katherine Tucker

Whether they’ve returned to work in a physical space or their company is still operating virtually, one thing is for sure–I’m seeing signs of burnout in most of my clients these days. That’s only natural as we settle into month eight of the pandemic and continue to navigate social and economic unrest, but it’s unsettling all the same.  

If you’ve suffered from burnout before, you know the signs – mental and physical fatigue, disengagement in your work and life, the absence of inspiration and desire to learn are among a few. While the age-old cure for burnout is taking time off to decompress and re-center, this isn’t always a viable option. For my clients, I typically “prescribe” a focused pattern of activities that, with commitment, typically has them feeling more like themselves and rediscovering positive engagement with the world around them. In and amidst the chaos of the world and work, consider these steps to stopping burnout in its tracks: 

Carve out dedicated time for you:

In an ever-changing world we tend to lose ourselves in the minutia of our days – the checklists, responsibilities to work and family, external forces. When you find yourself disengaged and fatigued, the first place to tune in is within yourself. What do you need in order to “refill your bucket?”  

Many of us have hobbies and interests that fuel us, inspire creativity, and keep us feeling connected with ourselves. In the midst of change, these can fall by the wayside. However, these are the activities that bring us back to neutral from a mindset perspective. It’s important to schedule time in your day or week to engage in a few activities that light you up and bring you joy. Regardless if it’s exercise, cooking, reading, a puzzle – the positive effects of spending time on things that refuel you are incredible. 

Plan tomorrow, today:

We often succumb to burnout when we feel as though we’re just not completing enough on our “to-do” list. We tend to run from one activity or task to the next but rarely feel as though we actually completed anything over the course of the day or week. The constant pushing and pulling to make things happen in our personal and professional lives can be depleting.  

Checklists or task management systems are effective ways to manage priorities and ensure your time is focused on the right things. Thoughtfully planning out your day the day or night before not only gets the clutter out of your head but can focus your efforts in a positive way. Many of my clients find it helpful to not only check items off a list, but to carve out time at the end of the week to create a “done list.” This is a reflective process in which you list everything you completed (personal or professional) within the week. Notice, without judgement, the progress you made and spend a few minutes celebrating! 

Prioritize sleep:

I don’t mean take naps everyday (but if you can and feel called – do that!). Sleep is so critical to the proper functioning of our brains and bodies. When our bodies feel exhausted, our minds follow with negative thoughts and spiral on untruths. Likewise, when our minds feel tapped out, our bodies begin to exhibit signs of exhaustion in the form of illness, achiness, and discomfort. This can have a whole host of ramifications on how we communicate with others and carry ourselves. 

Sleep can be hard to find in times of stress, and somewhat surprisingly, individuals suffering from burn out may have more difficulty getting to sleep. There are numerous non-medicinal sleep aids in the form of mobile applications that help calm the mind and ready the body for sleep. Many of my clients utilize the Calm App for assistance with meditation and sleep. Others find it beneficial to separate from their tech devices as much as an hour in advance of planning to sleep. Find what works for you so you can settle into rest and recuperation.  

Meditate:

On the same theme of sleep, meditation can work wonders for the mind and body. The conscious tuning out of the world around you and focusing on your breath or a mantra has been proven to regenerate mind and body function as well as strengthen the neurological pathways in your brain. 

The beauty of meditation is that it doesn’t have to take place at a certain hour of the day or for a prescribed length of time. My clients have varying meditation practices anywhere from a dedicated hour in the morning to “pulse meditations” in between calls and meetings. Experiment with a cadence that is easy and accessible to you. Equally important, ensure your environment for meditation is one that is comfortable whether it’s nature, your floor, or a cozy chair. 

Avoiding burnout is critical to personal and professional success. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it does provide a success pattern that can help you find ease, calm your mind and body, and focus your energy where it can have the most impact. Taking care of yourself is the utmost importance now and always – protect the asset (you). 

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