March 1, 2022

Recognizing Burnout & How To Prevent It

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Burnout has been a hot topic as many job seekers look for new opportunities with a better work-life balance. Camille and Jill break down the symptoms of burnout and how it can impact your work performance, physical and mental health, and your personal life. They share different ways to help prevent burnout like setting boundaries, creating routines, taking intentional breaks, and how to intentionally rest and recharge.

Episode Transcript

Hi, I’m Camille and this is Jill. We’re both from Hirewell and we’re super passionate about mental health, work-life balance, everything that comes with that. So we really wanted to do some type of series and hopefully there’ll be more to come. And for this first one, we want to talk about burnout. So I’ve experienced it personally

and so has Jill, so we want to talk about our personal experiences, but also just a little bit more about it. And this kind of came about just because we’re both recruiters at Hirewell and just talking to candidates, really getting an understanding for everything that everyone has gone through in the past couple years with COVID and everything and just work-life balance.

So a lot of candidates are looking for better opportunities or companies that provide better work-life balance. So we just want to talk about that. And I think a lot of people have probably experienced burnout in symptoms of it and just really never knew that it was burnout. So we just want to go a little bit more into that.

So burnout is emotional or physical exhaustion just from a negative work-life balance, a lack of work-life balance, overworking and not setting boundaries. So a little bit about my personal experience, it came from unclear job expectactions. So I was really overdoing it. I wasn’t setting boundaries for myself.

I was staring at the screen so long all day I had migraines. And even after sleeping for like 10 to 12 hours, I felt exhausted. And I just, wasn’t excited to do phone screens. I wasn’t excited to be in meetings. I didn’t feel like myself. So this really was a wake up call just to be able to take some time for myself, set those boundaries between meetings,

make sure even if it’s like five or 10 minutes, just make sure to step away. I really loved smoothies. So I love making those- any type of food that fuels me. I love to have little snacks like strawberries and apples throughout the day. Those are really big for me and just making sure to plan my day better, just so I give myself a break and don’t rush through the day,

has worked really well to keep me on track and keep me feeling good throughout the day. But I want to give it over to Jill and she’ll tell you guys a little bit about her experience and then we’ll talk about some ways to prevent burnout. Great. Thanks Camille. Yeah. I feel like especially nowadays with working from home and just the repercussions of backlash of COVID and everything that comes with that, you know, burnout is real, real.

And especially, I feel like people tend to get- myself included- don’t realize, don’t know the cues and the signs before we hit burnout. And for me, I didn’t realize that I had so much stress, compounded stress that I was completely ignoring.

I was so focused in my work, I wasn’t taking care of myself, I wasn’t stopping throughout the day. It was just like, you know, I put my hood up and just got to work. But because of that, I was ignoring all of those stress signs, those stress cues. And so then I get to the point of burnout where I was in literally fetal position for two days straight. I had a migraine, it was like my body was screaming at me

‘you need to slow down and chill out because we are breaking down” and I almost had to go to the emergency room. I was just so physically exhausted and drained and overwhelmed, similar to you. I just lost motivation. I wasn’t finding joy and excitement and the things that I used to love doing, you know, even impacting relationships.

I just didn’t feel- I was so not myself at all. And you know, I feel like the understanding the different stress cues is what really, I mean, saved my health. So I had to do, and I hit that rock bottom of burnout, where I couldn’t move my body for two days. I knew that I had to really start taking stress seriously, you know?

And I think that sometimes we can kind of just push it off like “Oh, we got it. We got it. Stresses- I’m fine. I’m not stressed” but that really works on the backend and our body is always know best. We can not trick our bodies. Our bodies will always know, and our bodies will always let us know when we are stressed.

So like physical cues for me, I get headaches. I don’t sleep well. I get lower back pain. I get sciatica. I get the physical stuff is really loud, but of course we want to use that to prevent actually burnout. And I think another part, which is really important especially like you said, talking with different candidates as recruiters, you hear a lot about work-life balance or what does that look like?

How are people treating- how are employers treating mental health? And I think that, like you said, setting realistic expectations for yourself but also knowing what those expectations are and being able to communicate those and voice those to your employer or potential employer. But what happened to me about those unclear job expectations is I was comfortable going to my manager and letting them know what was going on and they’re like, yeah, this is not normal. You’re doing way too much, pushing yourself way too hard. It’s just cause all of that work was coming in and when you’re working from home in a new job, in the past, it was just hard to know what everyone else was doing because you’re not in an office.

You don’t see how many people, how many phone screens people are on a day. And I, there was just so many unclear expectations of my role that I just kind of went with what felt right at the time in longterm, it was just not doable. And it was just not good for anyone to be doing that much. So, yeah.

And look at that! Another of this is understanding, especially for job seekers or even people in current jobs right now is knowing that you have a safe space to have those conversations, especially and that starts from the top. And shameless plug for Hirewell, Matt does a phenomenal job of keeping those conversations open, especially with all the we’re doing with mental health and providing that safe space for people to talk about it. Because talking about it sometimes is even a proactive thing that you can do is if you start to feel overwhelmed, you know, reach out to a colleague.

Or talk to someone like you said, especially working from home, we don’t really have anything to compare our workload to, it’s just us, right? But I think with that setting boundaries is, in my opinion, is everything. And in every aspect of life setting boundaries in every aspect of your life. Yes! Relationships, socializing, everything.

So boundaries are key. And so I feel like with boundaries- man, I could do a whole- I have done an entire workshop- that’ll be our next one. Yes! How to set boundaries, but then also how to communicate them? So understanding boundaries is so important because you have to give yourself space to actually know what your limits are.

And so setting those boundaries first, knowing what they are and why they’re important to you, because if we’re just setting boundaries just for whatever, for whatever reason, not really caring why it’s really easy to break those boundaries. And then what’s the point of them? So understanding the why behind that and why those are important.

And then also on the other side of that is communicating those boundaries, communicating them to your employer, to your team, to your boss. Whether that is what time of day you are absolutely done working, and giving yourself, a little bit of flexibility because we’re human, right.

There’s going to be days that where if your boundary is stopping work at five o’clock on the dot, knowing that if there are days where you can’t do that, it’s fine. But we still want to honor those for ourselves because boundaries are protecting us and helping us to prevent burnout.

I mean, there’s physical boundaries. So like what we were talking about, kind of that, not when we working from home, we don’t have that commute. We don’t have that end time.

So closing your laptop at the end of the day, physically stepping away from your laptop, going for a walk, having a conversation about why you enjoyed your day, what were you grateful for that day with your partner or even just your friend or your dog? I talk to my dog all the time, especially when I’m stressed out.

But even a change of scenery. Getting up, working from a coffee shop or something like that, those physical boundaries can really, really help and same thing with personal ones. Giving yourself time in between buffers, in between meetings. That’s so important for me, because if I show up to a meeting where I’m not energized, I’m just sitting there,

I can’t contribute anything to the meeting. So really it probably wouldn’t have meant anything if I didn’t even go at that point. So I want to be able to have that time to recharge so I can have my mind in a good place and be able to generate new ideas and contribute to the conversation. So you’re just worn out all the time,

you’re not really giving anything to your work, your performance probably isn’t that great. So it’s just better to take the time and just learn yourself, know yourself, and be able to contribute and be the best you can be. Yes. Oh, I love that. And I love that you said that you’re not energized and you don’t feel, you’re not showing up as your best self. And of course your best self looks different, day to day

but recognizing like, you know, that’s checking in with yourself and realizing, oh, I definitely need that time in between meetings because back-to-back meetings, we are not- humans are not meant for that. We are not meant to be back to back and not replenishing ourselves or refueling ourselves in between. So that having buffers in between meetings is so I think it was really, really helpful.

It’s kind of hard to do sometimes, but just at least setting yourself that and taking that time in between those meetings, especially when we’re on Zoom or on the phone, calling with people, taking time to just stepping away from your laptop, stretching, drinking water.

I’ve got my massive jug of water. This is what I have to drink every single day. Drink your water. I love that. Yeah, and something else that. On top of giving yourself time and just breaks throughout the day, intentional breaks are huge. I’m lucky I have a dog that I walk several times a day, so that’s my- That’s a lot of walks for a dog.

I usually just do one, or we have a yard, so. See! City living and we don’t have a yard. So every single time we have to take him out. But hey! I love it because it gets me out and physically moving my body because movement is a non-negotiable for me. I need to move my body every single day because that’s something that I need to show up to energize myself.

That is a huge de-stressor for me. So movement, my jug of water, going for at least one walk minimum and snacks, eating throughout the day. Everyone loses when we aren’t drinking water and eating enough food because our brain literally needs that to function. And so I think just giving, just understanding what you absolutely need each day can really help to be proactive with stress, to avoid burnout.

Now of course there’s also, some like mood boosting activities that feel good in the moment. For me, if I’m just feeling like in a rut, I will put on my favorite music and my favorite song at the time, and I will legit dance in my living room just to shake it off. And that’s how I dance.

Or like meditation. Every single morning I give myself time just to be in, just to check in with ourselves, check in how am I feeling today? Man I’m feeling really exhausted. Okay. So maybe taking more breaks throughout the day, just to make sure that you don’t crash by 2:00 PM, you know.

There’s definitely a lot of those mood boosting activities that can help in the moment. But for longterm success and preventing burnout. It’s all about those proactive practices that you commit to every single day to help with stress. Because also even if we are outside of work, if we are still doing things like I’m planning a wedding right now, it’s really exciting, but it’s still stressful.

So it’s a lot of that that works in the background that we need to take care of. So that’s why those proactive practices are really important just to keep stress at bay so we don’t reach the max and we reach burnout. Yeah. And even if you absolutely love your job, like Hirewell, everyone is amazing.

We love what we do. We love who we work with, but it still is a lot like working and the balancing act of work and life is a lot. So just knowing yourself and honestly if I never went through burnout in the past, I probably wouldn’t know myself as well. It’s almost like going through a bad breakup and knowing what movie to put on, like what some music to listen to. It’s like you have to know yourself.

And to be able to be proactive is really just saved me a lot in a work-life balance situation. So I think you really just have to go through it, but if you’re lucky enough to never go through it and just learn yourself without that, then that’s awesome. Yeah. I love that.

Absolutely. And I think when you get to that point of where you’re running on fumes, you’re running on exhaustion, you’re kind of running on this survival level. You want to get out of that survival mode where we’re just barely holding on and hope we may get through the day. You got to ask yourself, are you living to work or do you want to work to live?

Because if we kind of take a step back and just see, okay, what are the patterns here? What’s going on? How can I fix it? Definitely helps to get to know yourself a lot better and know what your boundaries are, know what your capacity is, is so important. Yeah. And even just like a little example of setting up your day, I usually block my timeout or things like that, but in the past, I’d be like, let’s do all these pre screens like right in a row, get them done so I can do stuff for the rest of the day.

Maybe that sounded great to me in the past, but not at all because you can’t be giving your best when you’re doing one after another. It might get over quicker and be able to spend the rest of your day doing other things, but it’s just a lot, and you’re not setting yourself up for success. So just knowing that you wouldn’t feel great doing all of those in a row, maybe space amount, like 30 minutes or so.

And maybe if you’re feeling it, then maybe call the person earlier or something and see if that works for them, but just go off of how you’re feeling and make sure you’re just true to yourself and setting yourself up for success. Yeah, I love that. Staying true to yourself. Definitely. Takeaways, you know, just really knowing what your stress cues are, is really important because

burnout is that compounded stress and that exhaustion over a long period of time. So knowing what your stress cues are, but then also knowing what does stress you out, even the good stuff, you know, cause that’s still something. Knowing what works for you too. What are those boundaries that you absolutely need to be able to show up as your best self, to feel energized, to refuel, to know how to decompress. Is that, that closing the laptop at the end of the day

and maybe just sitting for a few minutes just to like reflect and think of things that you’re grateful for, proud of yourself for that day. What are those things that you can do to help create that space to just be. Yeah. And remember, we’re talking about since so many people work from home now, you don’t have that 15, 40 minute, maybe an hour commute of a train ride, or car ride where you get to listen to a podcast or just kind of decompress about the day or listen to the radio.

So I think it’s hard for us to have that off switch when we’re already at home, our computers maybe sitting out in the bedroom, in an office, kitchen, living room wherever you work. So creating that time to decompress of like going for a walk, maybe just getting some fresh air, just doing something to create that even line of

okay, now I’m just living my life, I’m not at work anymore. I’m just going on with the rest of my day with my family or loved ones, whoever you’re with just making sure there’s a fine line between that. And that should help you just kind of create a safe space. Yeah, absolutely. And everyone has their own experience.

Everyone has different lifestyles, different goals, different journeys. So it’s just, it’s all about just taking a toll, just understanding what you need for yourself and then of course acting on it, right. You can think of all of the things that we want to do. We want to carve out time for ourselves.

We want to have morning routines. We want to close our laptops at a certain time, but the real work is committing to that, and just taking that action to really be true to yourself and commit to yourself. Yeah. So hopefully we’ve given you guys enough to kind of take away and hopefully either make a list of what works for you or put reminders on your phone, maybe to get up and go for a walk or take a break.

Usually I try to get up like every 30 minutes or so, or just whatever’s the end of a meeting or task and just kind of get some fresh air or walk, even if it’s just for a few minutes. So hopefully you guys can come up with some ideas and find out what works for you, just so you don’t have to go through, severe burnout.

Yeah. Awesome.

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