Did you know that women at work, who are often juggling both home and work, run the highest risk of burnout? It is vital that women understand what burnout is and how critical it is to address it in the right manner.
WHO defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The condition is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, and increased mental distance from one’s work.
Women tend to experience burnout faster than their male counterparts due to reasons such as primary caregiving responsibilities at home, gender inequalities in the workplace, the onus to stay on top of the game at work, and the guilt for not achieving all they set out to do. The good news is, burnout is not unbeatable as it seems.
Catch it early
Successful women professionals need to learn what burnout looks like in order to get help; yet, this is very often the hardest part. Self-awareness is the key to combating burnout. You may be success-driven and passionate about your work but feeling overwhelmed by it all is a definite sign that you need to reach out for help. The realization may come as a shock and coming to terms with the fact that you’re either heading for a crisis or in one, isn't easy. Do not ignore the symptoms – keep in mind that seeking solutions will benefit you the most, in the long run.
It is essential to have someone to support and give you a wider perspective through this period. Reach out to a qualified therapist or a coach or even a good friend or family member. This individual can help you establish boundaries, identity patterns and provide you with clarity on your priorities. These small steps will actually pave the way to you overcoming the symptoms of burnout and establish healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Meaningful relationships with friends and family, and joining a social or support group (even within the organization) can help immensely. Interacting with others who are coping with the same workplace demands might give you a heads up on how to tackle your own problems. Going forward, you may even work with your manager or other senior colleagues to build an environment which helps everyone to thrive.
Stop being Superwoman
Take off that cape and accept that while you may be super-efficient in some areas, it’s alright to not be awesome in every aspect of your life. You need to do what is right for yourself and your work or family as the case maybe. Avoid comparing yourself with other women (or anyone) and do not judge yourself on what others are capable of (particularly by what is shared on social media).
Disconnect and learn to say “No”
Draw boundaries between your work and your life - this will help you to succeed in both. Avoid burning the midnight oil in an attempt to meet deadlines or prove yourself at the workplace. Disconnect yourself electronically from work if need be. Do not make yourself available 24*7 as this itself will prevent you from recharging your batteries. Delegate, reevaluate your responsibilities and learn to let go. Keep in mind that you need not explain your reasons or the rationale behind the refusal.
Prioritize your emotional and physical well being
Schedule relaxation for yourself. Take that long-awaited break with your friends or even your family. Guiltlessly disconnect from the world outside and concentrate on yourself when you do. You will come back feeling energized and renewed. Make simple life changes to your routine, prioritize exercise, healthy eating and a good night’s sleep; you will soon reap the rewards. If need be, learn to live with the mess at times. Learn to do what is right for yourself. If you’re pressured at work, learn to consciously let go of something on the home front. Ask your partner for help or outsource if need be. The world will not collapse if you do either and neither will you.
Stress relief for women is often bypassed in our culture and this makes it even harder to ask for help. Many working women have a lot to shoulder, often make themselves the last priority and pay a heavy price for it. However, if you do not take care of yourself, the problem will intensify. So do help yourself, reach out to support systems, delegate work and avail help when required. Pause, breathe and make time to revitalize yourself, so you can come back and thrive at work and beyond.