Does that proverbial candle just keep getting shorter?
“Self-care” and “work/life balance” are concepts that have been hot topics for quite some time. Here are five practical tips related to taking care of yourself so you can be more effective in your work and personal life, even if finding actual balance may be a bit of a misnomer.
1. Take time off.
This tip isn’t rocket science, but here’s the twist. Take two weeks off at a time when you can. Oftentimes when you take just one week off, all you’ve done is given yourself time to decompress and then it’s time to go back to work. When you take two weeks off at once, that second week can be used to truly relax and rest. You will go back to work in a better state of mind.
2. Take breaks.
Courtney Seiter wrote an article a few years ago called Why You Need to Stop Thinking You are Too Busy to Take Breaks. It shares evidence of the need to use breaks to keep your thinking fresh and productive. How does this apply to burnout? One of the common symptoms of burnout is the belief you are no longer being effective. Anything you can do to continue to feel you are making a difference helps prevent feelings of burnout.
3. Let it go.
Senior vice president of marketing for Lazada, Mei Lee, has shared her interesting approach to letting go. “I follow a method called the 10, 10, 10 rule. When I am faced with a challenge or problem, I would ask myself this question, ‘How does this affect me in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?’” When I first read this concept, it really resonated for me. I am rarely concerned about things I will be really worried about in 10 months, let alone 10 years. To avoid burnout, identify what is truly worth worrying about, and what is simply worth letting go.
4. Know your triggers.
This may require you to ask someone close to you to help, but the basic idea is that there are visible signs of burnout. Many people have similar ones – being irritable, having a short fuse, trouble sleeping, etc. There are also individual “tells” people may have that are sometimes blind spots to the person experiencing them. Identifying your triggers is an important step in preventing burnout. If you can identify that you’re experiencing one of these triggers, you can activate some of the previous three steps to care for yourself before it is too late.
5. See your doctor.
Seeking medical advice may seem like a strange tip because it’s not often discussed in connection with burnout. Frankly, many of us tend to be highly unlikely candidates to follow this tip. Yet, the truth of the matter is our emotional wellbeing is tied to our physical wellbeing. If you’re not feeling at the top of your game, get a checkup with your doctor to make sure there is no physical reason you are having trouble.
People are constantly watching leaders worth following to see how they manage struggles similar to what others are experiencing. As a leader, are you showing your team or your family and friends someone who is tired and experiencing burnout? Or are you showing them someone who takes care of themselves and wants the same for them? Wishing you well!
Written by: Lori Chalmers – Former Milestone Leadership Associate