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6 Ways To Battle Burnout Like A Warrior

Written by: Eleanor Oliver-Edmonds, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

The first time someone referred me to as “Wonder Woman” I had a mixed reaction; on one hand it felt like validation for the juggling act also known as my crazy life, and on the other hand I didn’t feel anything remotely close to wonderful. I was a single mom of two boys and a business owner; to the outside world my daily mommy marathon may have looked heroic, but most days I felt exhausted and burned out.



Sadly my experience was not an isolated anomaly; thousands of women struggle to maintain a work-life balance and battle fatigue and exhaustion every day. It’s no secret many working women shoulder the lion’s share of household upkeep, childcare, and aging parent care; this includes those who have partners. In the annual Women in the Workplace poll released, by McKinsey Report and LeanIn.Org, the 2021 poll numbers reflected 42% of North American women in the workplace acknowledge they feel burned out almost always or most of the time. The number is a significant increase over the 32% of respondents answering the year prior.

Some women describe burnout as a feeling of “spinning” or “spiraling” out of control. It’s often the result of an imbalance between work and life outside of work.


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the term “burnout” as: “conceptualized as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Left unchecked, unmanaged stress can adversely impact your health in a number of ways including heart disease, a decline in mental health, poor nutrition, a weakened immune system, lack of focus and much more.


A recent phenomenon has labeled this as Wonder Woman Syndrome and addresses the negative aspects of women who attempt to do everything on their own. How do you identify someone who may be suffering from this? Characteristics to look for are: the over-achiever who puts in extra time and effort in practically everything she does; the mother who places everyone else’s needs before her own; the multi-tasking maven; the friend who appears to have unlimited energy; the family member who everyone turns to when they need help. Does she sound familiar? She’s likely your sister, mother, wife, best friend, co-worker, or even yourself.


Media and marketing perpetuate the impossible standards of the wonder woman mythology. We’re told women can “bring home the bacon,” please her man, take care of the kids and clean house, all with a gleaming smile. The message conveys doing it all by yourself will not compromise your energy, productivity, and personal wellbeing. The fact of the matter is, this image is untenable, unsustainable and wholly harmful to women’s overall health. It’s also disempowering and creates more stress and frustration.


What can we do collectively to help overcome Wonder Woman Syndrome? First, let's stop comparing women to a fictitious comic book character. She may be an inspiration, however she is no more of a role model for women than Batman is for men. Next, let’s empower women to prioritize their personal wellbeing. Here are six tips to help battle burnout.


1. Get Comfortable Saying, “No”


The word, “no” is a complete sentence and it takes a great deal of courage to say it. Doing so means you are prioritizing yourself. Think about how many times you said, “yes” because it was more convenient than explaining why you couldn’t do something? When you say, “no” you are respecting yourself and your value. As women, and for the benefit of those who love us, we need to exercise our privilege of saying, “no” more often. Practice this daily until you can do it with ease (and without guilt).


2. Build a Support Squad


Women are often eager to step up and help a friend in need but for some, asking for help is a sign of weakness. Support is essential when you're feeling exhausted and desperately need some help. Create a support squad: your village of collaborators, problem solvers, and helpers. Identify women in your life who can fill those supporting roles for you and you for them. This is what we should strive for when we post women supporting women. The next time you watch the Wonder Woman movie remember this, she may look like a bad-ass warrior on the battlefield, but behind the camera she had an entire production team to make her look fabulous and flawless. She simply did not do it alone and neither should you.


3. Establish Healthy Habits


Prioritize your physical and emotional health. You cannot take care of others until you've taken care of yourself first; this is why when you travel on an airplane you are instructed to put on your oxygen mask before placing it on your children. Taking care of yourself is not being selfish. It's not a luxury. It's a necessity. The moment you feel like your life is “spinning” or “spiraling” out of control is a good indicator you have not made yourself a priority. Make a habit of getting plenty of quality sleep, staying hydrated and choosing healthy meals. Healthy habits also includes setting boundaries, not everyone deserves access to you.


4. Create Me Time


If your mantra is, “I don’t have time,” here’s a trick to make time: schedule yourself first. Create “me time.” Put your workouts, downtime and personal activities on your calendar. Treat these events as you would any other important meeting or appointment you would not think of canceling. Create a ritual for yourself by scheduling one activity for a specific time and day each week; having a set date reduces the likelihood of double-booking yourself. When you show up for yourself, you can show up better for others.


5. Put an End to Multitasking


Multitasking is such a misnomer. It makes us believe we’re capable of doing all things at once equally well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Studies have shown chronic multitasking actually changes the way the brain functions and may decrease productivity. Instead of multitasking, try batch-tasking. Set a timer and work in blocks of 30, 45 or 60 minutes. Work on similar tasks during the time you’ve alotted. For instance, check and respond to emails during one time batch; set another time for paying bills, you get the idea. This process improves focus, efficiency and productivity. In between each batching segment, take a 15-20 minute reset break. Challenge yourself to fully reset by doing an express workout, going for a walk, taking a power nap, or meditating. These types of activities produce serotonin, the “happy hormone,” which reduces stress, helps you feel calmer and energizes you for the next batch session.


6. Unplug


Technology has made it virtually impossible for us to disconnect for an extended period of time. Since the pandemic, and the onset of working from home, for some this also increased accessibility to work outside of business hours. As Christine Carter, PhD, a sociologist and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley stated, “Work has fully invaded our personal lives in that we can work 24/7, but the reverse is not necessarily true.” Numerous studies show even when people do take time off, including vacation time, they are still tethered to the office via their devices.


One day per week, allow yourself to unplug and disconnect from devices and outside obligations. Spend time outdoors, with family, or doing something that brings you joy. If a full day off the grid sounds overwhelming, start with half a day and build up from there. Disconnecting is so beneficial to your emotional and physical wellbeing, as it helps improve focus, mental clarity and productivity.


When we embolden, empower, and encourage one another, our power to create change in the world around us becomes palpable. Women are the changemakers for this age and time and to do so we must courageously speak out about what’s not working and recommend solutions to make things better. When we prioritize our wellbeing, it creates a ripple effect which benefits those around us.


For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!


 

Eleanor Oliver-Edmonds, Brainz Magazine Executive Contributor

Elle (Eleanor) Oliver-Edmonds is a writer, speaker, and certified virtual coach. She pivoted from her advertising/marketing career as a creative strategist crafting consumer-directed messaging for top household brands and applied her creative problem-solving expertise to coaching individuals.


She’s founder and creator of the S.H.I.F.T. Factor, an online transformational space where Elle empowers women over 40 to reconnect with their dreams, overcome barriers, and strategize a path to success. The five-part inside-out process is based on the guiding principles, tools and resources Elle successfully used to reimagine and redesign her own life after loss of job, marriage, home and business.


She now lives a life where everyday looks like vacation. She relocated from hectic city life in Los Angeles to the Palm Desert area where she lives with her husband, and is affectionately referred to as “Coach Elle in Coachella” by her clients. Elle is the proud mom of two entrepreneurs who inspire her to follow her passion of living with intention and creating a ripple effect.

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