Burning Out on Your Own Brilliance
The very words that we use to describe each other in the workplace can be far more detrimental to our wellbeing than we might even imagine. How often do you hear a colleague described as a “rock star” for pulling heroic efforts to meet a tight deadline? How regularly do you see job listings seeking digital ninjas and conveying that a core expectation of the role is putting work ahead of all other priorities?
We need to do a better job of pushing back on this language - and the not-so-subtle cues that it sends about what we expect of professionals in the workplace. I have seen far too many brilliant women – women capable of tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges in business, medicine, and other fields – unable to manage their day, crushed under the weight of crushing expectations for themselves.
The paradox is that brilliance has a funny way of seducing you into believing that you can handle virtually anything thrown at you. But our brains were not built to thrive in the ongoing avalanche of stimuli thrown at the average worker each day. We weren’t designed to absorb and process all of the data and images thrown at us through an endless firehose of emails, texts, notifications, and posts.
The symptoms of burnout can seep in slowly thanks to this digital deluge. It may take you time to fully recognize that you have truly been running on empty – exhausted no matter how many hours of sleep you try to get. In essence, your body has run out of options for managing your prolonged exposure to stress. It can’t quite figure out how to manufacture enough stress hormones and your reserves of energy quickly grow depleted. In essence – burnout is a real bitch.
What can you do? Every woman is unique and needs a specific treatment plan for combatting burnout based on her individual needs. But some common steps may be relevant for most of us. There are some actions I now recommend to virtually all my patients who come to me with burnout.
· Begin meditating and paying attention to what they truly want in life, not what others want for them.
· Do more of what makes you happy, whether it’s riding your horse or spending more time with loved ones.
· Don’t fight it alone. Reach out for help when you need it.
What steps do you take when you feel burnout creeping in? How do you set yourself back on course?