How to Leverage Your Strengths to Prevent Burnout
All work and no play? With stress levels at an all-time high, many of us have experienced the devastating effects of burning out. Burnout can manifest itself in various ways, and it isn’t pretty when it strikes. When you’re burned out, you might feel high levels of stress and anxiety, have low energy, and feel exhausted. You may feel like there’s “never enough time,” have increased negative feelings, feel overwhelmed, be irritable, and lack motivation. In severe situations, you may even stop taking care of yourself, have trouble focusing, and experience a range of health issues.
But the good news is the exact traits that make you likely to burnout can actually be incredible assets…so long as you keep them in check. Learning to harness these strengths without overdoing it is the key to success, or what I like to call leaning in without burning out.
In the 1980s, Dr. Herbert Freudenberger was the first person to describe the syndrome known as burnout. Through his years of work with high-achieving patients, he uncovered the type of person most likely to burnout.
Here are the 4 traits common among those that suffer from burnout.
1. You’re a goal-focused overachiever.
Once you set a goal, you’re tenacious about achieving it, and nothing can get in your way. You’re capable of moving mountains when you’re focused and have your goal in sight.
2. You can always be counted on to do more than your fair share, no matter how busy you are.
You’re a team player, always thinking about what you can give and how you can help out. No matter how jam-packed your schedule is, you always do your part and sometimes even fill in for others.
3. You’re a leader who has a hard time admitting limitations.
You’re effective at rallying the troops and getting people to see that there is a way and that there is always hope. You rarely think of any challenges as insurmountable and believe that with enough effort, you can do whatever you put your mind to.
4. You push yourself hard and get results.
You know how to keep your eye on the prize and realize that hard work and dedication are required to accomplish anything meaningful.
In order to maximize your strengths and the enormous benefits of being an overachiever vulnerable to burnout, you’ll want to practice these 3 proven methods to add some space into your life and routine.
Here are 3 methods for keeping yourself from the edge of burnout.
1. Practice meditation and mindfulness to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the goal.
Start with a small, but daily, commitment to meditation. If you commit to just one, two, or five minutes each day, you are much more likely to stick with it. There are plenty of free meditation challenges available online to help you get started.
2. Take time to rest and recharge, especially remembering to double down when times are “crazy busy.”
It’s one thing to be in the zone, but if you notice you’re not getting up to get a glass of water, stretch your legs, or use the restroom at least once every 90-120 minutes, you are putting unnecessary strain on your body. When you notice that your schedule is starting to get maxed out, make a point to block off time on your calendar for self-care and treat it like an important meeting that you must attend. Your self-care activity should be rejuvenating, such as going for a hike, taking a bath, getting a massage, cooking a healthy meal for yourself, reading inspirational books, being in nature, taking a yoga class, working with a life coach, etc.
3. Practice self-compassion, and remember you’re only human.
Self-compassion is being kind and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Practicing self-compassion is proven to boost your willpower so you’ll be more effective and feel great. You can practice self-compassion as meditation by thinking of a situation in your life that is difficult and then saying the following phrases to yourself: “This is a moment of suffering. Everyone struggles; I’m only human. May I be kind to myself. May I give myself the compassion I need.”
In conclusion, being an overachiever is fantastic; it drives you to succeed and can lead to enormous personal and professional accomplishments. However, without a clear strategy to avoid burnout, the risks are high. Use these methods to maximize your strengths and avoid the pitfalls of burnout. You’ll be able to thrive in all facets of your life, personally and professionally.