Sherry A. Phillips

Suspense Author

How To Overcome and Prevent Burnout


Are you burned out? I am!

For the last 2 weeks, it has seemed as though I can barely put together a school lunch for my kids, let alone write and run a business.

You know the feeling … you’re stressed, fatigued and just plain tired. Your normal go-getter attitude and high octane living has caught up with you. Where you once sparkled like a freshly cut flawless diamond, you now feel closer to a lump of coal. Your lust for life has grown dimmer and dimmer until you eventually burn out entirely.

Sounds depressing doesn’t it? It is.

You give and give and give until finally, you have nothing left.

Burnout is a stealthy thief that likes to rob the world of its best and its brightest by feeding on their energy, enthusiasm, and passion. It transforms positive qualities into exhaustion, frustration, and disillusionment. However, the good news is that burnout is not a terminal condition.

To climb out will require a change in lifestyle, but once burnout is recognized and attended to, it can become a positive force in your life, a chance to rediscover yourself and shine brightly once again.

If you are like me and have become a victim of burnout, here are a few strategies you can use to reignite your flame and shine brightly once more. From Psychology Today:

1. Take an inventory. Make a list of all the situations that cause you to feel stressed, anxious, worried, frustrated, and helpless. Don’t rush through it. It’s not a race; it’s a process. In fact, you should consider it a work in process, adding to it as things enter your mind.

2. Next to each item on the inventory, write down at least one way to modify that situation to reduce its stress, and then begin implementing them into your routine. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t see immediate changes or feel immediate results. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s unrealistic to expect it to go away overnight. Consistent implementation of positive changes into your routine is the best way to see improvement.

3. Just say “no.” While you’re “recovering,” avoid taking on any new commitments or responsibilities. I know you have to live in the real world and there will be some things that you just can’t get out of doing. But high octane women have a bad habit of saying “yes” when they can say “no.” Resist that urge.
Delegate as many things as possible, even if the person you’re delegating to may not do them as quickly or as well as you would.

4. Take breaks between big projects. Burnout puts your mind and body in a weakened state, so avoid jumping from one stressful, time-consuming project to the next in order to give your mind and body a chance to recover.

5. Control your devices. Gadgets, such as iPads, computers, and smart phones, can consume large amounts of your time and energy. Turn them off as much as possible. (See Connection Overload and 12 Steps to Recovery for more information on how technology can hi-jack your life.)

6. Socialize outside your professional group. This can provide fresh perspectives, stimulate new ideas, and help you discover previously undiscovered resources.

7. Resist the urge to take work home. Yes, I realize you have a job to do and at some point the work has to get done. But if you’re like most high octane women, you like to be a superstar, racing around, showing how fast you can get to the finish line. As I say in High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout (link is external), “when you’re recovering from burnout, you can’t be on the Danica Patrick racetrack. You have to slow down a notch until you can safely get back up to that speed.”

8. Reinforce effort, not outcome. Not even the best players hit home runs every time they get up to bat. Remember to reinforce yourself for trying rather than only for the end result.

9. Consider a support group. Although a support group may be a therapeutic group, it doesn’t have to be. It can be a professional organization that provides support or mentoring, or a group of casual friends getting together to vent and share ideas. Whichever you choose, a support group serves two purposes: 1) sharing feelings often reduces stress, and 2) getting together with others reduces isolation, a common consequence of burnout.

10. Finally, a word of general advice–rediscover your passion. Every high-achieving woman I have ever known had one thing in common–a passion. If you’re like most victims of burnout, that passion has probably lost its meaning, leaving you feeling physically exhausted and emotionally depleted. But rediscovering it (or finding a new one) with a new self-awareness that it doesn’t have to be all-consuming can be the spark you need to reignite your flame. This may mean you have to redefine your roles at work, home, or both. It may mean that you have to find a way to redistribute the load you’re carrying. Or it may mean that you have to find a new passion, one that will offer more balance so you can enjoy life the way you once did.

Ultimately, you are in control of whether or not your overcome your burnout. Know this, if you tackle burnout as you’ve tackled all the other challenges in your life, you’ll succeed.

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