I am a self proclaimed high achiever, and can testify first hand that burnout from work related stress is real. In 2017, I wrote about my experience as a high performing professional in my best-selling book, “Disrupt the Status Quo: Living and Leading from Your Success Zone.” This book spoke of my account involving burnout as of a result of being over worked, under resourced, and over stressed.
Currently, I work with individuals and teams as an Organizational Consultant, coach, and trainer to assist them with being able to balance and manage competing priorities in their professional lives. But, what does one do when the lines are blurred between the professional and the personal? I often work with individuals who are reeling from the imbalance in their lives brought about by work related stressors. What I’ve found in my over 20 years as a Psychologist and corporate trainer, consultant, and coach is that people like me, and people like you that are high achievers are often blindsided by their burnout episode. I call it an episode because in many cases, it isn’t the only time burnout has resulted in inefficiency, however there is a variance in the degree and severity. The ‘aha’ moment often comes after a severe setback, in my case it resulted in a trip to the emergency room and months of work due to exacerbation of a chronic illness.
So, how can you prevent becoming a casualty of the life balance paradox? I’m going to recommend five useful and realistic strategies to take your power back.
This may seem like an obvious no-brainer tip to preventing burnout, but it is also the most often ignored remedy for burnout. High-performing professionals often explain (and excuse) the fact that they don’t get enough sleep and rest because they are too busy. But sleep (and sleep deprivation) has cumulative effects, meaning that the longer you go without sleep, the more progressive the negative effects are on the mind and body. If you’re mind and body are not okay, then you won’t be able to maintain your level of high performance (and optimal professional results).
You might not have time for leisure activities daily and this is understandable given your busy schedule and long days. However, in order to prevent burnout, leisure time is critical at least twice weekly. If you are demonstrating signs and symptoms of burnout, then more leisure time is likely necessary. Participating in activities you enjoy (both alone and with others) helps you to maintain your identity outside of your work. This personal identity is one of the things that give meaning to life, knowing that you are more than your job, more than your productivity at work, and more than how much money you make.
Whenever you are especially stressed, breaking your routine can work wonders in alleviating worry, anxiety, tension, and even the mind fogs that result from these symptoms. Breaking routine simply means doing things differently from the way you typically do things. High performing professionals are often organized and structured, and although this is important in goal attainment and achievement, this rigidity in daily life can also contribute to stress. I’m not saying you should break your routine in your work-related tasks, but consider taking a pause from your work midday and sitting at a coffee shop, going for a 10 minute walk outdoors, or having lunch in a different place. You can break your routine the same on weekends, when you likely have more leeway and activity options.
Setting boundaries is critical in preventing burnout, as the demands of our jobs and the people we work with can become overwhelming and add much stress to daily life. Boundary setting can mean different things for different people, but it generally means delegating tasks to others in order to relieve your workload and knowing when to say no. High-achieving professionals often have difficulty delegating important tasks due to fear of things going wrong; however, trying to do everything will lead to eventual burnout. Knowing when to say no is an important boundary to prevent the stress of pleasing others or of taking on more work than we can handle.
In your journey towards preventing burnout, it is important to spend time with yourself. If you look back at a typical week, you might be surprised to find that you either spend time with or around others, or if you’re alone, your mind is occupied with work or other tasks. When you truly spend time with yourself, you are in a peaceful, mindful space. This is best achieved by practicing meditation, yoga, martial arts, or other activities where your focus is on the present (or the here and now). This focus and quieting of the mind helps to clear the mental clutter and stressors of the day and allows you to learn to be present and enjoy the moment.
The idea of living a stress-free life is a myth.
Some people learn to cope by using instinctive strategies that work well for them. Others struggle to manage stress and to find the right balance. When it comes to burnout and stress in the workplace, then there’s no time to assume that you can handle it on your own. Coaching helps people learn techniques and strategies to manage the everyday challenges that face them and develop the most efficient ways to manage all of the stress that career and family can throw at us. Working with a professional that is experienced in the unique challenges high achievers face is critical.
Dr. Sanchez has been working with executive clients for years to help them deal with the challenges of the high-pressure workplace. Her techniques and strategies have helped hundreds of clients around the country and around the world live happier and more fulfilled lives while maintaining the same jobs they had before.
To learn more about coaching services provided by Dr. Sanchez please visit our website at: www.dravsanchez.com.