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How Can I Avoid Burnout?

Rich offers proven ways to exercise renewal and recharge your reserves of energy and focus, all which can help with burnout.

Hi, it's Rich here. I've been asked to answer the question, how can I avoid burnout? So let me start by saying, throughout my life and work, I have definitely experienced profound feelings of burnout. I've also found some useful ways to recover from burnout and to prevent it. And so I want to share some of those with you today. Really, it's three things which I'll speak to each in turn.

So the first is radical self care. The second is cultivating support from others. And the third is resetting expectations. So let me speak about each of these. But as for this experience of burnout, I certainly have examples of it, as I said before.

I remember that I once delivered a huge body of work in a previous organization in which I worked. And I was literally reinventing an important business process. And after landing that project and getting great feedback about it, the thing that happened was that there was an expectation for the next thing. A kind of that's great, but what can you do for me tomorrow kind of thing. So that didn't feel great.

And definitely it led me to feeling burned out as I tried to move to the new project. That's normal because the human mind and body doesn't naturally operate in an unrelenting pace. We need time for rest and recovery. I mean, look at the best athletes, they need recovery time. Without it, we have a recipe for hurt and burnout.

So before I dive into the suggestions I made, first, I just want to answer the question at the outset. What is burnout? So given today's world, which has sometimes been described as a VUCA world, which stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. I think we can certainly agree that all those factors are in full effect. Burnout has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon. So much so that the World Health Organization recognizes it as a, I think they use the quote that it's a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

And they diagnose this as an actual disease. In fact, the three symptoms of the disease of burnout that they list are number one, exhaustion, feelings of energy depletion, or physical, mental, and or emotional fatigue. The next one is disengagement, not feeling engaged with your work or very little excitement and motivation that's sustained. And finally ineffectiveness, a kind of reduced productivity or efficacy. So no matter how much you try to focus or how hard you try, you just can't seem to be productive.

I don't know if that sounds familiar to some of you, but like I said before, I've certainly experienced that many times over the years in many different contexts, whether it was in school or in a job I had, or other contexts. So resolving burnout often requires changes also, not only within yourself, but within an organization, which I'll speak to towards the end here, around resetting expectations. But let's begin with the first suggestion I had, which is to prioritize self-care. It's what I call radical self-care. It's too easy to fall into a busy-ness trap.

So perhaps one place to start is considering what wellbeing means to you, what it looks like, and which factors impact your wellbeing. For me personally, for example, having a little bit of flexibility throughout my daily and weekly schedule is really important. I like to be able to take walks sometimes at lunch or to leave work a little bit early to pick up my son from school and spend time with him in the afternoon. Perhaps playing some sports or even just hanging out, even playing video games. Whatever it means to you, just having an understanding of what wellbeing is and how to prioritize it.

Now consider all the contributors to optimal wellbeing and then take a good look at your current schedule or routine. How are you spending your days and weeks and months? There are definitely some factors that contribute to wellbeing. These include things like physical exercise or movement, mental training or mindfulness practice, adequate restorative sleep, consuming natural, unprocessed, balanced foods, time with family and friends, spending time in nature and / or natural environments, and so many, many more. All of these are considered nice to have, but sometimes discretionary. Well, because I suppose the demands of work and life are really great, are really high, that is.

The reality though, is that these aren't just nice to haves, they're must haves, if in fact we're going to perform our best. The body and the mind, they have an inherent need for rest and relaxation. Have you ever had the experience where you're trying so hard to solve a problem at work, you lean into the work, stay late, miss your evening meal, and keep looking at your computer screen searching for an answer, but it doesn't come. And it could be that the next morning you decide to take some fresh air and take a walk before you get to work, before you get to your desk or onto the computer, and sometimes a solution magically appears. This happens to me all the time, and it happens to me a lot when I'm walking my dog, actually.

I like to walk my dog on the beach. We happen to be fortunate to live in San Francisco, not far from the ocean. And in those moments of just open space and expansiveness, a lot of things kind of come together and gel for me. So consider ways that you can create your own routine around self-care and prioritize those. Not as nice to haves, but as need to haves.

This is what I mean by radical self-care. On the second suggestion, which is getting support from others, it's another key to avoiding burnout. It's really about connecting with your network, with your community, with your loved ones, with your friends. If you have a close, trusted friend or partner or colleague, share with them the things that can trigger or even upset you, the signs, if you like, that you may be burning out. And give them the permission to check in with you when they notice the signs.

And encourage them to encourage you to exercise self-care. For example, encouraging them to invite you for walks, or to catch up, to watch games on the weekend, or just to spend time together. Many of us aren't so good at asking for help or even noticing that we may need help to slow down, especially when we're in the midst of a really important project or working with a tight deadline. So giving permission to a trusted friend who truly cares for your well-being, to help keep you accountable, and offer suggestions for self-care is a great strategy. It also will have the positive effect of strengthening your relationship.

And social connections are a key contributor to wellbeing. Finally, I just want to say a few words about my third recommendation, which is to reset expectations. Consider that burnout is also a systemic problem within organizations. Cultures of organizations sometimes promote and reward us for working all hours under the sun. And they sometimes punish us or make us feel less adequate for not doing so, for needing to take time and have some flexibility and exercise self-care.

So consider how you might utilize flexible working and setting expectations within your organization, especially about meetings and work hours and see what that's like. See how that plays in your organization. See if you can have conversations with colleagues or managers or leaders in your organization to reset expectations. If that's not possible, and the culture of an organization or a group that you're involved in is, what we would, call toxic and not welcoming to your own wellbeing, then it may be that you have a different set of choices to make, a different set of considerations., Perhaps ones that prioritize your wellbeing. And that doesn't have to happen all of a sudden.

But it can be that it begins the process of being more planful on creating the causes and conditions for your own wellbeing and the things that you need to support that. And I wish you well, as you work to exercise some of the skills that'll help you prioritize self-care and prevent burnout. Again, be kind to yourself throughout the process, knowing that all of us are prone to burnout. The demands in life and work can be great, but that there are also ways you can exercise with mindfulness and with self-compassion to avoid burnout and to be your best. So thanks for your time today.

Be kind to yourself, and be well.

Talk

4.7

How Can I Avoid Burnout?

Rich offers proven ways to exercise renewal and recharge your reserves of energy and focus, all which can help with burnout.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, it's Rich here. I've been asked to answer the question, how can I avoid burnout? So let me start by saying, throughout my life and work, I have definitely experienced profound feelings of burnout. I've also found some useful ways to recover from burnout and to prevent it. And so I want to share some of those with you today. Really, it's three things which I'll speak to each in turn.

So the first is radical self care. The second is cultivating support from others. And the third is resetting expectations. So let me speak about each of these. But as for this experience of burnout, I certainly have examples of it, as I said before.

I remember that I once delivered a huge body of work in a previous organization in which I worked. And I was literally reinventing an important business process. And after landing that project and getting great feedback about it, the thing that happened was that there was an expectation for the next thing. A kind of that's great, but what can you do for me tomorrow kind of thing. So that didn't feel great.

And definitely it led me to feeling burned out as I tried to move to the new project. That's normal because the human mind and body doesn't naturally operate in an unrelenting pace. We need time for rest and recovery. I mean, look at the best athletes, they need recovery time. Without it, we have a recipe for hurt and burnout.

So before I dive into the suggestions I made, first, I just want to answer the question at the outset. What is burnout? So given today's world, which has sometimes been described as a VUCA world, which stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. I think we can certainly agree that all those factors are in full effect. Burnout has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon. So much so that the World Health Organization recognizes it as a, I think they use the quote that it's a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

And they diagnose this as an actual disease. In fact, the three symptoms of the disease of burnout that they list are number one, exhaustion, feelings of energy depletion, or physical, mental, and or emotional fatigue. The next one is disengagement, not feeling engaged with your work or very little excitement and motivation that's sustained. And finally ineffectiveness, a kind of reduced productivity or efficacy. So no matter how much you try to focus or how hard you try, you just can't seem to be productive.

I don't know if that sounds familiar to some of you, but like I said before, I've certainly experienced that many times over the years in many different contexts, whether it was in school or in a job I had, or other contexts. So resolving burnout often requires changes also, not only within yourself, but within an organization, which I'll speak to towards the end here, around resetting expectations. But let's begin with the first suggestion I had, which is to prioritize self-care. It's what I call radical self-care. It's too easy to fall into a busy-ness trap.

So perhaps one place to start is considering what wellbeing means to you, what it looks like, and which factors impact your wellbeing. For me personally, for example, having a little bit of flexibility throughout my daily and weekly schedule is really important. I like to be able to take walks sometimes at lunch or to leave work a little bit early to pick up my son from school and spend time with him in the afternoon. Perhaps playing some sports or even just hanging out, even playing video games. Whatever it means to you, just having an understanding of what wellbeing is and how to prioritize it.

Now consider all the contributors to optimal wellbeing and then take a good look at your current schedule or routine. How are you spending your days and weeks and months? There are definitely some factors that contribute to wellbeing. These include things like physical exercise or movement, mental training or mindfulness practice, adequate restorative sleep, consuming natural, unprocessed, balanced foods, time with family and friends, spending time in nature and / or natural environments, and so many, many more. All of these are considered nice to have, but sometimes discretionary. Well, because I suppose the demands of work and life are really great, are really high, that is.

The reality though, is that these aren't just nice to haves, they're must haves, if in fact we're going to perform our best. The body and the mind, they have an inherent need for rest and relaxation. Have you ever had the experience where you're trying so hard to solve a problem at work, you lean into the work, stay late, miss your evening meal, and keep looking at your computer screen searching for an answer, but it doesn't come. And it could be that the next morning you decide to take some fresh air and take a walk before you get to work, before you get to your desk or onto the computer, and sometimes a solution magically appears. This happens to me all the time, and it happens to me a lot when I'm walking my dog, actually.

I like to walk my dog on the beach. We happen to be fortunate to live in San Francisco, not far from the ocean. And in those moments of just open space and expansiveness, a lot of things kind of come together and gel for me. So consider ways that you can create your own routine around self-care and prioritize those. Not as nice to haves, but as need to haves.

This is what I mean by radical self-care. On the second suggestion, which is getting support from others, it's another key to avoiding burnout. It's really about connecting with your network, with your community, with your loved ones, with your friends. If you have a close, trusted friend or partner or colleague, share with them the things that can trigger or even upset you, the signs, if you like, that you may be burning out. And give them the permission to check in with you when they notice the signs.

And encourage them to encourage you to exercise self-care. For example, encouraging them to invite you for walks, or to catch up, to watch games on the weekend, or just to spend time together. Many of us aren't so good at asking for help or even noticing that we may need help to slow down, especially when we're in the midst of a really important project or working with a tight deadline. So giving permission to a trusted friend who truly cares for your well-being, to help keep you accountable, and offer suggestions for self-care is a great strategy. It also will have the positive effect of strengthening your relationship.

And social connections are a key contributor to wellbeing. Finally, I just want to say a few words about my third recommendation, which is to reset expectations. Consider that burnout is also a systemic problem within organizations. Cultures of organizations sometimes promote and reward us for working all hours under the sun. And they sometimes punish us or make us feel less adequate for not doing so, for needing to take time and have some flexibility and exercise self-care.

So consider how you might utilize flexible working and setting expectations within your organization, especially about meetings and work hours and see what that's like. See how that plays in your organization. See if you can have conversations with colleagues or managers or leaders in your organization to reset expectations. If that's not possible, and the culture of an organization or a group that you're involved in is, what we would, call toxic and not welcoming to your own wellbeing, then it may be that you have a different set of choices to make, a different set of considerations., Perhaps ones that prioritize your wellbeing. And that doesn't have to happen all of a sudden.

But it can be that it begins the process of being more planful on creating the causes and conditions for your own wellbeing and the things that you need to support that. And I wish you well, as you work to exercise some of the skills that'll help you prioritize self-care and prevent burnout. Again, be kind to yourself throughout the process, knowing that all of us are prone to burnout. The demands in life and work can be great, but that there are also ways you can exercise with mindfulness and with self-compassion to avoid burnout and to be your best. So thanks for your time today.

Be kind to yourself, and be well.

Talk

4.7

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