It’s time to talk about one of my favorite leadership development activities: rest.
Yep, you read that right! Burnout is a major issue for those in leadership, and even more so for women. In fact, a 2013 survey by Gallup found that 93% of senior leaders surveyed declared they were experiencing burnout—and that’s before our entire world could be minimized into Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting from our kitchen table. You have to imagine that in addition to the challenges of the pandemic, the past seven years of increasingly timely demands on our time and attention places that 93% number much closer to 100%.
Let me be clear: burnout should not be standard practice.
When leaders are burnt out, those at the helm of the ship are disengaged. This means a loss of profits, a loss of belief, and ultimately…more burnout in the up-and-coming employees who often take on heftier loads to make up for top-level burnout.
Even if you’re valiantly combatting your burnout dragon by running on fumes and trying to stay engaged during work hours, the fact is that you cannot do your most innovative work when you’re struggs to func.
Burnout is not a badge of honor, but an indication of immaturity and lack of personal boundaries. I don’t say this to shame you, because heaven knows I’ve been there! I share this to give you permission to set and enforce boundaries. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not an indication of unwillingness to work hard, but actually a model of respectful work practices. The best leaders rest because success (whatever that means to you) is only success if it’s sustainable. You want to make it to the top of your field and do great work, but I want you to do it in a way that ensures the next 20, 30 or 40 years are full of that same level of great work, too.
So how do we keep from reaching burnout? By intentionally recharging and managing our energy.
Seems simple, right? Your brain is wired to make connections between things, even if the connection may seem irrelevant. For most of us, our brain connects our laptops to work (especially now, when we don’t have environmental triggers like the office environment to help it understand when we’re not at work). You cannot sit behind your laptop screen on the weekends and recharge, even though watching reruns of The Office is tempting. You have to put your body in a new environment for your mind to start creating new experiences of being recharged.
So, without further adieu, here are my top eight ways for you to recharge this week:
Paint something, or just doodle.
Doodling increases activity in the part of your brain responsible for attention and focus, and art of any kind lets you turn off the analytical part of your brain and allow it to rest.
Tapping is like acupuncture without needles, and it allows you to cultivate feelings of energy and restfulness.
Answer reflection questions that connect your values with the actions you take everyday.
Research shows that this is an effective way to combat burnout if you’ve already caught the bug. Ask yourself self-guided prompts such as: What did I do this week to demonstrate my value of [x]?
Listen to binaural beats while on a walk.
Spotify and Brain.fm have great playlists to use for this. The relaxed pace and lack of words gives your brain a break from processing lyrics and helps you chill.
Interview someone in person, if possible.
Again, we’re trying to avoid a screen, but do what you must during Covid times! Interviewing someone allows you to be curious, and curiosity is energizing! Interview your housemate or partner about times in their life that were pivotal for them, and see how deep you can get into understanding them.
Ditch the pumpkin cream cold brew one afternoon for a piece of chocolate (or several).
Chocolate tasting, anyone?! We all love an excuse to eat a treat or two as Halloween approaches, and chocolate does contain a very small amount of caffeine! But not as much as your usual Starbies order, so you’ll spare your adrenal glands a bit of that caffeine blast.
Play a word game.
My partner and I love to do crossword puzzles together; it allows us to laugh, bond and also learn something new—about each other and the world at large.
Hike and breathe deeply.
Some research has indicated that forest bathing, a.k.a just being in the presence of trees and soaking it in, can lower cortisol levels and blood pressure. Don’t worry—no loofah needed!
Which of these techniques can you implement to create new, innovative energy for yourself in the week ahead? I’d love to hear!
Finally, if you’re struggling to manage your energy, know that you’re not alone. However, it is a major power leak you must resolve before you start fresh in 2021!
Send me a message on the “Contact Me” page to start a conversation about energy management and how you can head into 2021 feeling prepared to stay engaged, innovate and lead like the strong boss you are.