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Burnout Can Be Life-Changing

Written by: Shona Hirons, 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.


My name is Shona Hirons and I am a Corporate Resilience and Burnout Coach. I work with global organizations to help their staff avoid and recover from burnout, by building resilience and a healthy set of coping strategies. My mission in life is to encourage every organization to offer well-being support for their staff, because happy staff equals happy profits.

Let me tell you a true story.

It’s 5 years since burnout almost beat me. I had spent years working myself into the ground, working long hours, not taking breaks, not fixing the cause of the problem, and always saying ‘yes’. I had always thrived on a bit of stress and loved a challenge, but there’s only so much a human being can take, and working this way soon started to take its toll. I knew there was something wrong with me because I was constantly exhausted, feeling disconnected, had no interest in anything, and was so unhappy. On one occasion I collapsed and lost the feeling in my hands and feet. After being rushed to the hospital with a suspected heart attack or stroke, I was told there was good news “Your test results are normal, there’s nothing wrong with you”. This didn’t feel like good news, because I knew there was something wrong with me. However, I carried on regardless and gradually got worse, which impacted my performance at work and I started to make mistakes. Instead of establishing the cause, the answer was to place me on a Performance Improvement Plan, which made me more anxious and that’s when the panic attacks started.

The day that changed my life for good

On 21 February 2017, I remember getting up, in a rush as always, cycled into work on very little sleep and the rest is a blur. I was told by witnesses that I’d lost control of my bicycle and smashed my face on the curb. I broke all the bones around my orbital area, smashed my cheekbone into pieces, and fractured my jaw and the base of my skull. I was also left deaf in my left ear.

My husband was told I had a twenty percent chance of survival and to give me the best chance, I was put into an induced coma for two weeks. When I was brought around I underwent major facial reconstructive surgery and spent the next six months in and out of the hospital, unable to do much at all. I was told by my Consultant that I had such severe injuries that there would be things I’d never do again. However, I believed I could still do those things, albeit with a little adaptation. This is when I started setting myself big goals.

What did I do next?

The biggest thing I struggled with when I was better was getting back on a bicycle. However, within 18 months, I was competing in my first half-iron-man event. Despite being in immense pain, crossing that finishing line was such an amazing experience. I also embarked on a new career path as a Resilience and Burnout Coach, helping others to thrive again after tough times. I regularly deliver my talk 'Broken to Bionic' around the world. My story has won me many awards, including Best Mental Health Provider in the UK most recently.

I became the number 1 best-selling author with my book “The Girls Who Refused to Quit – Volume 3”, which I wrote with fourteen other inspirational women. Our stories are about extreme adversity, but finding the strength and resilience to keep going no matter what.

My choices

I had a choice, to give up, or get up. I always choose to get up. I am not a victim and I love my life now.

I am so proud of how far I’ve come. Even when you hit rock bottom, you have a choice to stay there or get back up to the top. You might need some help to get you there, but that is not a weakness. Once you start to recognize the signs of burnout, do something about it. Don’t just push yourself further into the ground, because the consequences can be life-changing.

The World Health Organisation defines burnout as “A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

5 Tips To Avoid Burnout

1. Recharge Your Batteries

Think of your body as a battery. When a battery starts to run out, it slows down and eventually stops. Your body is no different. If you don’t prioritize your own self-care, your body is likely to make you.

Prioritize rest and take care of your mind and body. It is important that you sleep well and focus on just being you.

2. Do Things That Make You Happy Outside of Work

You can improve your energy and productivity by making an effort to integrate non-work-related activities into your day. These don’t have to take long, but it is essential to incorporate some micro-breaks into your day to feel recharged.

3. Set Boundaries

You need to know and respect your limits. Learn to say “NO”.

When you create a new relationship with time, time management becomes pain management.

4. Be True To Your Values

Find out what works for you. Remember, you have a choice. When you discover your true values, you discover your “WHY” and your “PASSION”. It becomes your calling.

5. Automate Aspects of Your Work

Any technology that streamlines workflows, saves time and makes work easier to support a better work-life balance.

Read my blog on the 10 Phases of Burnout.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Shona Hirons, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Shona Hirons is an award-winning global Resilience and Burnout Coach. A breakdown from work-related stress, which led to a life-changing accident, requiring major facial reconstructive surgery and brain damage, gave her a big wake-up call. During her recovery, she went on a journey of self-discovery to rebuild her resilience, consider her values and achieve all the things she was told she couldn't do. Shona has developed strategies to boost her resilience, and now helps others to do the same. She is the CEO of Mindset in Motion, and a leader in corporate wellbeing, working with corporate clients in over 195 countries. Her mission: To improve the well-being of people and businesses throughout the world.



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