Simple Strategies for Ambitious Career Women to Avoid Burnout
After I graduated from graduate school, I was the only person in my class who managed to land a full time job in my field in a competitive landscape, in my home city. One dedicated professor, about an hour of preparation and some natural communication and entrepreneurial skills that I didn’t fully realize I had at the time helped me land the gig.
I was thankful for the opportunity and realized I was one of the fortunate few. Although I realized the position wasn’t an ideal fit for my personality, strengths and goals, I identified that it was a pivotal career stepping stone and not a final destination. As with everything else I did, I showed up every day and give 100%. As a recovering perfectionist, I held myself to an unrealistically high standard given the environment I was in and I experienced anxiety for the first time in my life around going to work each day. Especially on Sunday nights. Fast forward to three years later and I found myself experiencing physical symptoms like dizzy spells and loss of consciousness that medical specialists couldn’t diagnose as anything other than “cumulative stress.” I was forced to take time off to reset my nervous system, re-evaluate the environment that I was in and decide on the next steps for my life.
Through my own personal experience and the help of an insightful natural health practitioner, I learned some impactful strategies that enabled me to heal myself and manage day to day stress in a way that reduces the tension that naturally accumulates during the day rather than allowing it to build over time.
Here are a few simple practices you can do daily to help you stay calm and centred in the midst of a hectic work day
1. Go for a walk. This is a simple thing that anyone can do, and it does wonders to refresh your mental state. At some point throughout your work day, take at least ten minutes to walk outside. You can venture over to a local coffee shop or simply walking down the street. This is a great habit that anyone can do over their lunch break. If you can go alone it’s ideal. Movement, fresh hair, a change in environment and a break from mental stimulation will go a long way to reset you for the day, reduce stress and set you up for an afternoon where you feel more calm and energized.
2. Daily stretching, exercise or meditation. This can and should be whatever it is that you enjoy. Even 15 minutes in the morning doing a workout video, yoga, or stretching is enough shift you into a positive mental state to start your day feeling optimistic, in control and in a positive vibrational state. Try listening to a morning meditation or visualization on YouTube or the Headspace app.
3. Implement a tension reduction practice that you do after your work day. This practice will release built up stress and transition into your evening. For me, what works is exercise. I either go for a walk outside on the trails near where I live, or going to the gym when the weather isn’t ideal. For my partner, he likes to cook. He finds this relaxing because it’s a process he can follow that absorbs his attention. Tune into yourself, notice what makes you feel calm and release tension and DO IT each day after work so that you aren’t allowing tension and stress to accumulate day after day or taking out your emotions on your loved ones. Think about what allows you personally to blow off steam and re-set to a more relaxed state.
Lifestyle practices to pencil into your monthly calendar that will change your life
4. Meet with a supportive peer group once a month. Whether it’s a group of friends or a mastermind group, create or join a group that meets regularly for support, connection and provides a space to foster relationships that will help you grow. Having a platform to share your thoughts and speak your truth will decrease cumulative stress, which is key for preventing burn out. As Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School shares, “Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”
5. Get a monthly massage. This works wonders for reducing physical tension and therefore mental stress. After all, there really is no such thing as the ‘mind/body connection’ the way it’s often thought of because our brain is our body. A lot of medical plans cover massages, so check into yours.
6. Start Journaling. Writing down your goals for the month. Put pencil to paper and write down what you want to achieve, how you want to feel and how you want to show up each day. Begin a regular self reflection practice by journaling for 15 minutes at the end of each day. Checking in with your personal goals renews your sense of purpose and direction. Reviewing how you’re feeling and what actions you are or are not taking will do wonders for providing you with a sense of hope and optimism about your future.
Having positive beliefs and expectations around your trajectory, a supportive social network that fosters growth combined with daily practices to reduce the physical and mental tension that naturally builds through our busy days will keep burnout at bay and provide you with a sense of wellbeing, happiness and success.
These strategies have enabled me to transform my life from allowing environmental circumstances and disempowering thoughts to run the show to being at cause for my thoughts, emotions, physical state – and ultimately the direction my life is taking. Give them a try and let me know how they work for you.