Avoid burnout and overcome weariness
I’ve been speaking to leaders who are experiencing a weariness with lockdown and know they need to find new ways to handle the situation. If this is you, you are not alone. In my coaching work, I see leaders working extremely hard and on the verge of burnout.
In this article I explore how to avoid burnout and overcome weariness by taking some time to acknowledge yourself. I share a process that will take you about 30 minutes. It’s so important for overall wellbeing that we recognise the impact of this past year and give ourselves some grace.
I promise it will be time well spent.
It starts with naming the reality of what you have been living through and the impact that it has had.
Tell your story
What is your story? Taking some time to write it out or speak it out into a voice recorder can be incredibly cathartic.
Where I live in the the UK we have been in lockdown for the majority of this past year. My children have not been in school for over half the year, we haven’t been able to see friends and family in real life at all indoors and even outdoors only very occasionally when the rules have allowed it.
I cannot remember the last time I gave my mum or sister a hug, nor shared a meal with them. I have seen my 2 year old nephew who lives one mile away a handful of times in the local park. My six year old recently said to me, “Mummy I can’t remember what it was like before coronavirus”, because it has been one sixth of her life.
I live in the city and have not been allowed to travel out to the countryside or beach, usually regular activities at the weekends. For the vast majority of the year, there have been no restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms, pools or hairdressers open.
85% of my business income disappeared overnight when the first lockdown hit and I count myself fortunate to have had recently launched a second on-line business in February 2020. I have been able to gradually grow this work.
My husband is a key worker supporting those on the front-line and has seen the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on people.
I have spent much of this past year balancing helping my children learn with working from home without the usual ‘village’ that we have in place to help raise them.
It’s been tiring, joyful, frustrating, fun, boring and immensely challenging for all of us. There have been moments when I’ve thought, “I just can’t do this!” and other times when I’ve thought, “I’m so grateful that all the usual distractions and demands have been taken away”. I am sure that many people will relate to this emotional rollercoaster.
Notice what you have achieved
Give yourself some time to name what you’ve achieved. What are one or two things that you’re proud of from this past year?
Noticing and acknowledging yourself for what you’ve achieved is so important to avoid burnout.
Why? Because when you don’t take time to stop and recognise your achievements, it’s so easy to keep driving yourself to do more, create more, be more productive. And it’s so easy to drive yourself into the ground without even realising that you’re doing it.
We had this conversation in our family this week. Our eldest was a little reluctant at first but eventually got into it and was able to acknowledge himself for the work he’s put into online school learning despite how hard he’s found it. Our youngest was proud of getting outside every day and helping out more at home.
Let go and connect
In my work as a coach, I see many leaders who are compassionate and understanding towards others and yet hard on themselves. It’s only too easy to focus on the things we haven’t done.
Will you allow yourself to let go of the things you haven’t done? Or those things you wish you’d done differently?
One really helpful tool here is to take 15minutes just to free write what’s in your head: all the plans, thoughts, ideas, dreams, emotions, judgements, everything unfiltered. Get a pen and journal or do a brain dump without stopping. This is not for anyone else’s eyes except yours, so you can go to town.
You will know when this has had the desired impact because you’ll start to notice a gradual shifting to more productive and positive thoughts on the paper.
Finally, re-read the story you wrote earlier on, along with what you’ve achieved.
Now take a moment to create an intention for yourself moving forwards.
How do you want to be with yourself from this day forwards?
Will you allow your care for others to spill over into care and self-compassion?
What is important now?