Overwhelming workloads, toxic office environments and social media overload are leading to more burnout than ever before. These bosses and advisors from The Oracles share how they handle the stress — and prevent it.
My job has changed dramatically since we grew from a small team to over 350 people, and I expect it will continue to change. Molly Graham led Facebook’s early growth and saw her team jump from 25 to 125 people in just nine months. She likens working in a rapidly changing organization to giving away a Lego as a kid. Learning to assign work to others is definitely uncomfortable at first and something you have to get used to, but the only way to build a big, awesome company is to have amazing people working with you toward the same goal.
It can be hard to switch off in startups, but it’s really important. My partner and I often go for long walks. I love yoga, although I don’t get to it as often as I’d like. I also love traveling and try to go overseas each year to reset and recharge.
— Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, which is valued at over a billion dollars
Rest, exercise and learn to say no
It’s normal to feel exhausted if you constantly work hard. That’s nothing a weekend of rest and relaxation can’t fix. I love reading novels, spending time with friends, and heading to the beach or mountains. If you still dread work or feel disillusioned, you may be experiencing more serious career burnout. The natural reaction is to take a vacation, but that’s a short-term solution.
Get intentional about what you want and what fulfills you. Look inward to discover your purpose. Think about whether you are meeting your goals, and if not, ask yourself what needs to change. Re-engage by giving back to others as a mentor or thought leader. Figure out how to regain control of your time at work by delegating or learning to say no. And don’t forget to exercise — it’s a great stress reliever.
Begin your day proactively
It’s so important to start your day proactively rather than reactively. I always spend time with my coffee, my journal, and a book to get into a good head space before the day begins.
It can be really difficult to set aside time to recharge your batteries when you feel like you’re swamped with work. But that’s when you really need to be strict and let go of the guilt. Find time to eat energizing foods, work out (even if it’s just a walk outside), and grab 10 minutes just to breathe and be intentional about your work.
— Natalie Ellis, award-winning serial entrepreneur and CEO of BossBabe, the world’s largest online community of ambitious women with a six-figure monthly recurring revenue; follow Natalie on Instagram
Free yourself from distractions
Growing a successful business takes time and focused work, without interruptions. I turn off email and social media notifications, which means I don’t allow others to dictate my priorities. I create my schedule at the beginning of the week and set times to check in on parts of the business. This creates space to be proactive, not reactive, which minimizes overwhelm and overload so I’m free to maximize my output.
As a business owner, I do find it hard to truly switch off. I’m an achiever, so I naturally want to be doing or creating something. I’m most relaxed when reading a nonfiction book, free from distractions and able to lose myself in thoughts. The time and space to actively think is priceless and allows me to recharge before a new week ahead.
We must fiercely protect our goals and time. That starts with being clear and focused on your vision, purpose and life goals. I regularly ask myself how an activity, conversation, or relationship supports those things. There are times when an overwhelming workload is unavoidable, but tasks I’m passionate about rarely make me fatigued. Fatigue typically arises when my daily demands are not aligned with my purpose, which can quickly result in burnout.
I’ve designed a morning routine to manage the challenges of daily life, feed my soul and energize me. I wake up at 4:50 a.m., grab my water bottle, and join a 5 a.m. call with like-minded people for five minutes of inspiration. Then I spend 30 to 60 minutes doing cardio and finish by writing what I’m grateful for. I’m also intentional about how much time and energy I give to social media and the news. If you let them dictate or clutter your schedule, it inevitably leads to fatigue, frustration and burnout.
— Eileen Rivera, CEO of The Rivera Group; real estate coach, speaker and licensed California realtor with over half a billion in sales
I’m super disciplined with set routines and rhythms. Even though I exercise, meditate and eat properly every day, I still experience burnout. That’s why I practice H.A.L.T., which means I have to stop whenever I get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
I have a Type A personality and push myself to extremes, which is why H.A.L.T. is so important for me. Whenever I feel burned out, I just stop and ask myself: Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? If so, I give myself permission to stop and take a break.
Change your mindset and expectations
Burnout is serious. A Swedish study found that those with burnout symptoms from chronic occupational stress aren’t as capable of regulating negative emotion. That’s because the connections in their brain responsible for that process were significantly weakened. This is why it’s extremely difficult to work in the midst of burnout. It kills your productivity and takes a heavy toll on your mental health and relationships.
My struggle with burnout spiraled into depression and anxiety. To overcome it, I did three things. First, I made my goals and expectations more realistic. Then I set a sustainable daily workload. Finally, I take time each day to reflect on how proud I am for what I’ve achieved, rather than focus on what I haven’t. I remember how grateful I am for what I have and for the wonderful people in my life.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2019 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
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