May 23, 2024
Mental Health

I want to talk about a topic that is garnering lots of attention, but still lacks clear solutions – burnout. It’s on the rise, affecting an astonishing number of Americans with symptoms like mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, decreased productivity, feelings of dread, and increased likelihood of being susceptible to illness. 


Frequently we hear about burnout being related to the workplace, and it certainly is. A poll conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that upwards of 52% of people reported feeling burnt out at work. However, I think it’s more helpful to take a broader perspective, and consider that workplace overwhelm is just one part of the burnout puzzle. I have personally found that it’s also the mental load of being a parent, the hundreds of activities to not only organize for my family, but to also to be present for. It’s the desire to want to stay connected to friends and family who are important to me, which requires regular communication, planning and time spent together. It’s the responsibility of giving back to the community through volunteering to causes that I hold dear. It’s the need to carve out time that is just for me and my own wellbeing and development. 


Earlier this year, I felt myself teetering on the edge of burnout. Cue the imposter syndrome – I’m a LIFE COACH, I help people get out of burnout, how could I have let this happen!? Well, I suppose I am only human after all. I share this to illustrate that I do this work for a living, I practice what I preach, and I’m still not impervious to experiencing burnout. 


As a care-giver both in and out of the office, feeling emotionally connected to others is crucial for me – it gives my life purpose and meaning. When I noticed myself feeling emotionally depleted, I knew something had to change. 


I admitted to myself that I had pushed too hard, said “yes” too often, and miscalculated my time and energy. In hindsight, it’s a pretty honest mistake, and simply acknowledging my feelings felt like it lifted a weight. As our Medical Director, Dr. Frock said in a previous blog post – “it’s important to normalize and validate burnout so that you don’t spiral deeper into those feelings. Reminding yourself that it’s probably okay to feel what you’re feeling, and to bring some commonality to the situation, ‘If 100 people were put in this position, how many of them would likely feel the way I feel?’ Often, the answer is that 95+ people would feel the same way.” This all reiterated that I’m just a well-intentioned human doing the best I can to make the world a happier place. 


Next, I turned to my trusty tools. My favorite time management tool is the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps bring so much clarity and space to the never-ending to-do list. Framing my tasks this way is an instant stress relief, and I was beginning to see more clearly.


But, here’s where the big mindset shift happened. I regrounded myself in a quality over quantity approach that I had been veering away from little by little. How would my plan for the week change if I were to focus on the top 20% of my tasks that were most rewarding – financially, emotionally and mentally? It’s not a perfect science, and sometimes you can’t completely delete the bottom 80%, but it helped me to reframe how much energy I needed to spend on less critical tasks. Scheduling blocks on my calendar for those bottom 80% tasks, helps me to be able to create more space to focus on the 20% that truly mattered. 


All of this has cleared space for me to reground in my why personally and professionally. It has allowed me to feel re-energized, inspired, purposeful and connected to the bigger picture. Life has a way of teaching us lessons over and over again, and reminds me that no matter how much I am in the ‘teacher’ role, the role of student is perhaps the most important. 


7 Steps to Minimize Burnout: 

  1. Name what you’re feeling
  2. Normalize and validate it
  3. Bring commonality of experience into your perspective
  4. Prioritize your life/workload, delegate and delete 
  5. Asses – What are your top 20% most rewarding tasks?
  6. Schedule intentional time for the other tasks, and don’t let them creep into your top 20% time. 
  7. Reground in your Why