Burnout and Balance

Burnout and Balance – How to Achieve a Healthier Rhythm

Author: Kerrie Campbell, Transformational Coach, Live Your Sensational Life

“I am so tired or exhausted all of the time, but I don’t have time to rest as I have too many things on my plate.”  This is what I hear regularly from many of my clients.  

As women, we tend to have a lot of demands placed on our time, especially when we run our own businesses or have busy careers.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing we just have to keep pushing through because we have so many responsibilities, and we just don’t know how we can drop any of them as we don’t want to let anyone else down.  However, this leads us to feel like some days we are barely ‘surviving’ let alone thriving, often feeling tired and overwhelmed and like we need a vacation on a regular basis.  When we operate like this, we are either in burnout or heading rapidly toward it.  

This has been a big part of my own story as I spent close to two decades in some level of burnout.  I raised my now teenagers while juggling my career in senior leadership roles in large global companies, moving across the world and regularly traveling internationally for work.  This led me to experience on-and-off adrenal fatigue, increasing food intolerances, as well as other ongoing health challenges, which have taken me years to heal and overcome.  This is why I am extremely passionate about helping and preventing other women from getting to that point as I now know there is a different way.

What really contributes to burnout?

Let’s start by defining what burnout is, because you do not need to be in a state where you can barely function or not be able to get out of bed to be in burnout.  It’s essentially a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress, and it can manifest in a variety of ways.  From low energy to brain fog, to persistent or excessive fatigue, to irritability and negative thinking, to experiencing even minor levels of anxiety or depression, to poor gut health and much more.  Unfortunately, many women will ignore and continue to push through these symptoms, believing they either don’t have a choice or that they should be able to cope.  

I’ve found that there are a few contributing factors to even low levels of burnout in busy women, which can include taking on excessive amounts of responsibility (usually out of a sense of obligation or feeling guilty saying no to things), prioritizing themselves last, and most of all never giving themselves a mental break (anyone here an overthinker?).  This all leads to being in a regular state of worry, anticipation, self-doubt and stress, putting our nervous system into a constant state of fight, flight or freeze.  This then snowballs into being less focused, productive, and creative, making poorer decisions and avoiding taking action on things that feel difficult or get stuck in fear (which can significantly hold our business back).  

Help, I might be feeling some burnout, now what?

So, what can we do when we live a busy life but want to operate at our best? 

Ultimately focusing on developing some small daily habits to calm our mind and body will make a big difference in our stress levels.  I’ve outlined some simple exercises below that don’t take a lot of time and you can incorporate into your day. 

In the morning

  • Start your day off well with a supportive morning routine.  Instead of checking your phone when you first wake or leaping out of bed and rushing to start your day immediately, try giving yourself 30 minutes of quiet mental space.  Here are some suggestions of what you could do instead:
    • Try guided meditation (Insight Timer or YouTube have a lot of great, free ones)
    • Do some journaling about what’s on your mind, or if you have heightened emotions swirling around, try Release Writing.  Tune into how you are feeling, then put pen to paper and let what you are feeling flow out of you onto the page.  Do this without judging, thinking or even re-reading what you’ve written.  This exercise allows us to stop resisting our emotions and actually process them in a healthy way.  You should feel a shift and release just from feeling your thoughts and emotions and getting them out.
    • Listen to something motivating and uplifting, like a podcast, audio book or music as you are getting ready to start your day off in a more positive mindset.

Throughout the day

  • Remember to breathe! Doing some simple breathing techniques can keep your nervous system in check, especially during a busy day.  Try box breathing, which is breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four, then out for a count of four, then count to four and repeat.  Do this 5 – 10 times a few times a day.
  • Release tension, set intention.  This is one of my favorite things to do when transitioning between major activities in your day, e.g., between client meetings or when shifting from one piece of work to something completely different.  Just stop and tune into your body and relax it from head to toe – starting at your head, working down just relax each part and think the words ‘release’ over and over and just imagine and feel the tension leaving your body.  Once you’ve done this, set an intention of how you want to show up for whatever you have next.  Perhaps it’s being more present with a client or with your kids, or it could be full of inspiration or creativity for a piece of work you are about to do etc.

At the end of the day

  • Grab a notebook and make a note of 2-3 things you are proud of, or you did well that day.  Take time to give yourself some recognition as we don’t often stop to recognize the good things we’ve done.  
  • Write 3 things that you are grateful for in your life.  It can be easy to focus on what isn’t going so well, what needs to be fixed or improved or constantly focused on what we don’t have yet.  Having a daily gratitude practice has actually been proven to have a positive impact on our mental and physical health and moves us out of scarcity and lack and into feeling more abundant about our life.

I would recommend selecting 2–3 things that you can do on a daily basis and trying them for the next 2-4 weeks.  You may not notice an immediate difference because it takes some time for your mind and body to relax and form a new habit, but don’t give up.  The key is to be intentional about doing them each day and persisting with them and you will begin to feel the effects, usually in a short period of time.  

About Kerrie Campbell, Transformational Coach.  Kerrie is a former Human Resources executive turned Coach and Consultant who loves helping ambitious women and mothers step into their highest potential and achieve success in a way that allows them to thrive.  She has spent her entire career studying human behavior and leadership, and is passionate about helping women find and live their purpose, so they can have the impact they truly desire and leave a legacy they are proud of.

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Burnout and Balance – How to Achieve a Healthier Rhythm

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