09.28.12 Career & Finances
How To Avoid A Burnout Fueled By Workaholism
BY Hannah Brencher
By the end of the conversation there were tears in the Thai food.
My cheeks were a jacked up mess of mascara and blush, my hands were in fists on the table. The right hand clenched around chopsticks, the left hand playing lifeboat to the tears still dripping down my chin. I’d reached it: the point of burnout. The gaping and wide moment where all stress, all activities, all stretching too thinly, all “yes” that really should have “no” commitments collided. And I came crashing down. Hard.
Friends—it’s real and alive for all ages and stages of life. Hidden behind “too many meetings” and curling a grin at the thought of the 2am hours and a still growing pile of work. From the espresso shots meant to carry you through overtime to the finals that leave your forehead indented into the desk, burnout lurks in every situation. Snag it, sister. Scoop it up before it flattens you out. These tips ahead were scripted with the intention of burning out the burnout before it pummels you into a pile of useless putty—a once passionate and vibrant she-was-going-places-until-now gal.
Take off the cape.
Hard to believe it but you’re not superwoman. You may be able to give ideas wings in the boardroom but you cannot possibly do it all. Know your limits and then transfer those limits into actions. Practice saying no. Actually say no. Block off days for yourself. Take intentional vacations—from both your job and your social networks (we’ll dig deeper into this one). Count your fingers, your toes and your hands—you are one body. Not made of steel. Not iron. Embrace the limitations within that truth.
Meet friends, catch up over wine, rehash “laugh so hard you’re snorting” stories. And be unplugged for every second of it. I dare you. We’re dealing with an extra diva these days and she goes by the name of “social media.” She wants to be there, sitting beside you and documenting every darn thing you do. Truth told—the constant updates, tags and hashtags can leave you fried and not operating to your full potential. Take a digital hiatus. Unplug from social streams for one day out of the week if your job requires it. Find a way to be pulled off from the constant conversation so that the voice in your own head stays sane.
Have an emergency “on the edge” go-to plan.
I can feel burnout before she barrels through the door. I hear her perfectly as if she were wearing insanely loud cowboy boots and clomping around the library, like she is thick in the air like the rain before it pours. For this reason, I’ve assembled a go-to routine that will turn me straight towards a state of “Ok… don’t fret. We’ve got this…” quickly.
Oreo cookies. A favorite pair of sweatpants. My kitchen counter. Jason Mraz.
That’s right, I’m known to sit, legs-crossed, on the kitchen counter while spooning peanut butter on my Oreos as Jason Mraz serenades me back to sanity. It’s a routine that keeps me balanced and poised when brinking the burnout stage BUT it’s a rare treat that doesn’t happen often. A way to beat burnout with the little joys that are unique to me.
Cut. It. Out.
One of the blaring reasons behind burnout is the cluttering of too much into an already packed schedule. Assess, analyze, go absolutely shrink on your TO DO list—is this benefitting me? Is it essential that I do this? Is this task helping me reach a goal? Yes? Ok, we’ll work with it then.
Too much at one time is a disservice to both you and everyone around you and Balance has too gorgeous of a face for you to turn her away. Showing up and being present takes times. Investing your energy, fully and wholly, is essential to making the most of your days, your roles and your dreams while avoiding burnout at the same time.