the four-part system you need to beat burnout before it beats you

the simple system that works

Written BY

Helen Lawson Williams

PhD in psychology, 15+ years in consulting and corporate leadership, respected coach and mentor, committed to solving burnout

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June 17, 2022

You're dealing with the constant demands of work, family, and personal life. You're also noticing how hard it is to find real rest and recovery time. This is the systemic imbalance that leads to burnout.

There are some common early warning signs: burnout begins to manifest as chronic fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, low motivation, making mistakes you wouldn't normally make, and insomnia. Recognising these signs early on can help you take proactive steps to nip burnout in the bud. Don't wait until more severe signs start to emerge: advanced burnout can bring physical symptoms such as a weakened immune response (so you get sick more often), unusual allergic reactions, hair loss, and in extreme cases, physical collapse.

If you're starting to feel burned out, it's worth pausing to do a reset. Rather than thinking about work-life balance, think about energy balance: a little less stress, a little more recovery. By making small shifts, you can beat burnout before it takes a toll on your health.

Burnout comes from a systemic imbalance between stress and recovery. To set that balance right, for good, you need to have these four elements in place:

1. Prioritise rest and recovery: Make time for activities that bring you joy and help you really relax, such as exercise, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies. Engaging in activities that nurture your mind and body is crucial for preventing burnout. If you're having trouble finding an activity that brings you joy and helps you relax, it's a good idea to see your primary health care provider.

2. Limit stress: Start by checking your boundaries: even the most effective recovery activity will struggle to make up for significant sources of stress like excessive hours, toxic relationships, lack of control, unfair treatment, insufficient rewards, or values misalignment at work. If work is creating excessive stress for you, it's critical that you put clear boundaries in place. Practice saying "no" to unreasonable requests, or standing up for yourself calmly in difficult interactions, for example.

3. Pay attention to how you're feeling: It may take a while to bounce back. Go easy on yourself, and resist the temptation to push too hard, too quickly. Your energy levels are your best gauge for what you can take on, and paying attention to those signals isn't soft. It's smart.

4. Get the right resources in place: Burnout doesn't happen in a vacuum. Chances are good that there are elements of your social world and/or your own habits that make it more likely to happen again. To beat burnout for good, you'll need to work out ways to replace those elements with things that help rather than harm you. Talk to friends, family, colleagues or a therapist about what's going on, and get creative. It's your system: you get to make it work for you.

Remember, burnout is common, but it's preventable. With the right system in place, you can beat burnout for good. This is the system we're making easier with TANK.

Further Reading
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