As a leader and/or manager, you are oftentimes conflicted between the best interests of the business, and your employees. You might be responsible for making tough decisions such as the business no longer affording to retain your full team, but you being well aware that all employees are solely relying on this paycheck to sustain their livelihoods. This constant stress will find you experiencing times when you’ll find it difficult to help others as you, yourself, are at your absolute limits. Here are some helpful tips to maintain your strength and reduce emotional fatigue in times of mental and physical burnout.
1. Make your own mental and physical health a priority
This may sound obvious, but is often something that is neglected in place of taking care of everyone else’s wellbeing. However, by proactively taking care of yourself, you are leading by example, creating a positive precedent, and also giving yourself enough energy and mental capacity to effectively lead the team. If the head of the team is burnt out, the entire team will feel the flow-on effects. So, take time off, say no, delegate where necessary, eat nourishing foods, respect your own personal boundaries, and make yourself a priority. How long can you really survive workplace stress, day in and day out?
2. Develop good habits
In order to look after yourself, it is always a good idea to create and maintain a good routine filled with healthy habits. This will help organise your day and reduce the feeling of chaos. This doesn’t have to be adhering to a strict daily schedule, but instead ensuring you set enough time aside to nurture healthy habits that will help towards reducing stress, anxiety and fatigue. This could be a 10-minute morning meditation session, a 15-minute walk during your lunch break, ensuring you sleep before a certain time every single night, not answering emails or calls after a certain time, meal prepping for the week to ensure you always have wholesome meals on hand, or simply, taking a deep breath when you receive unexpected (often unwarranted) requests. You will be amazed at the healing effects good habits can have on your body and mind.
3. Don’t pressure yourself to always act strong
There is frequently an expectation that managers have to be mentally strong, all-knowing and practically ‘perfect’ all the time. Many do not wish to share with their team when they are having a tough time or when they simply do not know what to do – but that is unrealistic. Normalising this conversation in a productive manner with the team, other managers, and even the business owner/s, is encouraged as this could feel liberating and could potentially help in increasing team rapport and bonding. If you can empathise with your employees having an ‘off’ day, you can certainly also empathise with yourself.
4. Don’t over commit
This ties in with the above. Managers and leaders tend to take everything on themselves because they feel it is their responsibility to do so, and an obligation to fulfill to earn their paycheck. However, this is not the case. If you are taking on everything yourself, where other team members may have sufficient skills to also take on these tasks, you risk not having the time or mental capacity to effectively support your team, and are essentially stripping them from opportunities to upskill. This also rings true for not respecting your own boundaries in terms of clocking off at the appropriate time, or taking work home with you repeatedly. There are times when this must absolutely happen, but if this is a common occurrence, then it is simply not sustainable. Try more delegation, prioritising tasks, look at hiring another casual role, or simply taking a step back and asking yourself ‘is this the most efficient way to finish these tasks?’. Your judgement can be clouded when you are feeling burnt out, so sometimes just by looking at problems in a new perspective could bring with it a whole world of opportunities.
5. Refocus and commit to lead
Once you have tried all the above tactics, it is now time to refocus your mindset and recommit yourself to leading the team – this time, with more vigour and optimism. When you are feeling burnt out, it can be easy to get lost in your maze of emotions and lose focus. Writing down your own goals and your team’s goals before planning a way forward will direct your energy into more productive spaces.
We understand that everyone is different and not all of these tips will be relevant, however, we would like to stress the importance of self-care and recognising when it is time to prioritise yourself. You cannot take care of others without first taking care of yourself.