Burnout is a pressing issue in Australia, costing the economy $14 billion annually and affecting the well-being of thousands of individuals. Recent research reveals that 89% of workers have experienced burnout within the past year. As women, particularly mothers, we often prioritise others over ourselves, which can lead to burnout. Drawing from my personal experience, I want to emphasize the importance of recognizing the signs of burnout, practicing self-care, and setting boundaries.
My Personal Experience
In 2007, I was the General Manager of Sportsgirl, and I found myself overwhelmed and on the verge of burnout. Juggling the responsibilities of raising three children, managing a household, traveling extensively, attending meetings, and making leadership decisions, I neglected my own needs. I strived to be the perfect wife, mother, friend, sister, and daughter, but this constant people-pleasing came at a great cost to my well-being.
The Toll of Burnout
Eventually, I reached a breaking point. At just 36 years old, I was completely burnt out. Although I still had passion for my job and was proud of my accomplishments, I had nothing left in the tank. It was then that I took a 3 and a half month break, prioritised self-care, and learned valuable lessons, before returning back to the company as CEO. Burnout taught me that taking care of myself is essential in order to effectively care for others, whether in my role as a mother, leader, friend, or wife.
Common Experience Among Women
I soon realised that my experience was not unique. Many women (and men) face the same challenges and struggle with burnout. The repercussions of burnout are not limited to the individual; it affects those around us. When we are exhausted, irritable, and emotionally drained, our loved ones and colleagues do not receive the best version of ourselves.
Recognising the Warning Signs
To prevent burnout, it is crucial to recognise the warning signs. These may include chronic exhaustion, concentration and memory problems, constant fatigue, irritability, lack of patience, lack of energy, and sleep disorders or insomnia. By paying attention to these signs, we can take proactive steps to avoid reaching a point of burnout.
The Importance of Self-Care and Boundaries
In hindsight, I wish I had understood the importance of self-care, self-preservation and boundaries. That’s why I want to share my experiences and failures with others. I am passionate about helping others recognise the signs of burnout and empowering them to prioritise themselves, embracing a life of self-care and self-love. Setting boundaries is crucial in achieving this. Boundaries not only prioritise our well-being and create balance in our lives but also enable us to make healthy choices on emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels. By setting boundaries, we protect the most important person: ourselves.
Tips for Setting Boundaries:
- Communicate clearly.
- Get comfortable saying ‘no.’
- Establish technology boundaries.
- Prioritize what truly matters.
It’s time to prioritise self-care, set boundaries, and live purposeful and fulfilling lives without succumbing to burnout. By recognising the warning signs, practicing self-care, and setting boundaries, we can prevent burnout and create a healthier work-life balance. Together, let’s embrace a life of self-care and empower ourselves to lead with purpose and fulfillment.
By: Colleen Callander, author, public speaker and former CEO of Sportsgirl