If you’ve ever experienced burnout, you know what it is like. It’s like falling off a cliff and losing control of your heart, mind, energy and strength all at once. As a result, you might find yourself snapping at someone when you’d normally be patient. Or reacting to situations disproportionately. Or even feeling disinterested in what you normally value.
Becoming a successful leader takes a lot of work. With people to help, deadlines to meet and clients to satisfy, it is very easy for a leader to succumb to pressure – and these pressures only compound when you’re also the owner.
According to a Gallup study, a staggering two out of three full-time workers are wrestling with burnout. When leaders are burned out, they typically feel detached, exhausted and emotionally volatile. This promotes a dysfunctional culture prone to confusion and power plays. Consequently, they are also likely to lose their best employees as the personnel tends to sense when things are not going well.
The good news, however, is you can learn how to self-soothe when things at work are spiraling out of control, when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work and feel you cannot take it anymore. Here are four effective strategies to overcome leadership burnout.
The most important burnout strategy is to disconnect because if you cannot find time to detach yourself electronically from work, you would never really leave work. Basically, when you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you are exposed to a constant barrage of stressors that hold you back from refocusing and recharging.
If, however, it isn’t possible for you to take the entire evening or weekend off from dealing with work emails or attending calls from clients, try to designate specific times to respond to voicemails and check in on emails. For instance, you may check your messages after lunch or maybe on Sunday afternoon while your children are playing in the garden. Scheduling small blocks of time in this way will help you alleviate stress without sacrificing your availability.
2. Lean on your support system
When crashing and burning out, you tend to withdraw from other people, resist socializing and avoid social gatherings. It is pretty normal to keep to yourself as much as possible when you’re stressed out.
What we don’t realize is sympathetic friends and family can be powerful allies in the war against burnout. And overcoming the burnout syndrome involves building positive social support in your personal and professional life.
So set up social get-togethers with old friends and family members. Hang out with old colleagues off the clock. Spending some quality time with people who care about you helps you abandon the stresses of work, reminding you to live a little and have fun.
3. Feed your soul
Finally, even when you don’t get a vacation day, think about other means to feed your soul and reward yourself. We often get so bogged down by results and our productivity in our dutiful lives that we forget to recognize how healing and energy-replenishing can play be.
Psychologists believe that just like children are encouraged to learn though playing, adults shouldn’t forget their true essence either. Figure out what feeds your soul. Reflect on what nourishes your emotional and spiritual health. You might like to read a great book or you might want to spend your afternoon cooking. You may treat yourself with your favorite food or pick out a new pair of shoes.
Though a month-long vacation isn’t always on the cards instantly, following many simple ways can brighten up your mood and enormously help you get through the burnout.
4. Contextualize your work
Every part of the daily grind can seem unbearable when you’re burned out. But here’s what you can do. There must hopefully be something that you really like about your job. Maybe it is working with clients, conducting research or producing sophisticated designs. No matter what it is, allot some of your hours to the favorite parts of your job, particularly something that will give you the “it’s all worth it” feeling.
Or if the case is different and you’re not loving any aspects of your work right now, step back and think about how you’re contributing to your company’s mission. You’ll eventually realize that it’s a great reason to keep going.
Read more: Avoiding Overwhelm – Managing the Workload of Being a Leader
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