We’re all familiar with work-related burnout – that state of physical and emotional exhaustion that, besides taking a toll on our lives, ends up being counterproductive to our work.
Burnout is a reality we’ve all faced at some point, not least in recent years, which has been a period of unprecedented stress and turmoil. And a lot of it is beyond our control. So, the question is, how can you prevent stress from escalating into full-blown burnout?
On the Flourishing Entrepreneurs podcast, Finesse CEO Jo Caruana sat down with host Aleya Harris to talk about burnout and how to navigate it both on a personal level and as an employer.
Techniques for Avoiding Burnout
While ‘burnout’ is often colloquially used to describe a particularly challenging day at work – “Today has left me burnt out!” – genuine burnout involves feeling overly exhausted to the point where you’re unable to concentrate and end up neglecting your wellbeing.
“Burnout is something we come up against again and again,” Jo asserts. “As an employer, as somebody who leads a team, I know how important it is to constantly work with my team on recognising and handling stress. Then, as a business leader and entrepreneur, you sometimes forget that you are facing the same struggles that lead to burnout.”
Here are some of Jo’s tips and techniques for tackling stress, anxiety and burnout:
Identify the signs of burnout.
The key to stopping stress from becoming detrimental to yourself or your team is to recognise the warning signs that burnout may be approaching. “It’s very clear: people start shutting down. They start panicking in situations where normally they would just be able to rise above it,” Jo adds.
Burnout manifests itself in multiple ways. People become exhausted and may choose to isolate themselves. They can also become increasingly irritable or frequently ill. If you spot these signs, it is time to take a step back because burnout is setting in.
Step away from work.
You may think that pushing through stressful situations will pay off, but ignoring the consequences of stress only worsens its impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing.
This accumulation of nervous tension will catch up with you unless you take a break. In Jo’s words, “With the madness of communication that we have to live through as modern entrepreneurs and employees, just taking that one- or two-day break away from work is wise.” This means no social media, no Slack, and definitely (definitely!) no emails.
Set expectations with others.
Overcoming burnout will force you to become strict about your pace of life. So, to ease stress, tell your clients or employers what they can realistically expect from you. If you don’t set expectations or reasonable deadlines, you won’t escape from the feeling that everyone wants everything from you instantly. And that will only lead to more burnout.
Schedule time for yourself.
When under a lot of stress, you must replenish your physical and emotional energy by prioritising your wellbeing. If you’re having trouble fitting things into your week, schedule them in the same way you would a work meeting. As Jo says, “If it’s in the diary, it’s going to happen.”
Have a burnout buddy.
When stress feels overwhelming, you need someone to turn to – someone who can help you make sense of your situation and to overcome any mental obstacles you may have set yourself. Since they are not as emotionally attached to your problems as you are, they can help you work through things systematically. With people on your side, you can create your burnout plan. “They’re going to give you that outside perspective, which means that you can set yourself free,” Jo clarifies.
Key takeaway: Burnout often feels inevitable and insurmountable. However, the reality is that it is simply your body forcing you to pay attention to it. Once you start noticing your stress signals, you’ve already taken that first step towards creating a strategy for burnout prevention. Importantly, by incorporating more self-care, as well as stress management techniques, into your daily routine, you’ll be able to reduce prolonged stress and live a more sustainable pace of life.
You can listen to the rest of this episode of the Flourishing Entrepreneurs podcast on Spotify.
And, if you’re keen to find out about how Finesse can give your business a helping hand, schedule a call with Jo today.