How to keep burnout at bay
In an edited extract from her new book, ‘ The Burnout Solution’, psychologist Siobhán Murray details her 12- week plan to a calmer you
Adhering t o your personal boundaries can be difficult unless you are very clear about what they are and are committed to them in order to protect your self- care. There will always be situations and events that will pop up unexpectedly, in your personal and work life, that will challenge you and cause you to forget your boundaries, in turn risking taking on too much and creating unnecessary stress. That is why knowing what your boundaries are, why they are important to you and how you are going to implement them is essential. Knowing what your personal boundaries are is all very well, but having the confidence to implement them can be difficult.
Personal boundaries set the tone for what we allow to happen ( and participate in) with our own and others’ behaviour. Personal boundaries define how we allow ourselves to be treated ( by others, and by ourselves). Setting personal boundaries is intrinsically linked to our self- esteem. If we feel disempowered or taken advantage of by the relationships around us, our selfesteem is impacted. Low self- esteem can impact our health, our stress levels, our personal relationships, as well as how achievable we feel our goals are.
Setting professional boundaries can feel more daunting due to the hierarchy of authority and structure of most workplaces. There is a phrase I hear more and more often in relation to how people work – the “instant work environment”. A good ex- ample, which I think most people can relate to, would be if you were in the middle of finishing off a task for someone else and you received an email with a new request, which was followed by a text message with another request, and at the same time your phone rang. This type of working environment makes us feel that we need to respond immediately to all the requests that cross our path. If you are not adhering to your boundaries, you can become overwhelmed by the constant demands and it can also create an environment that allows the “instant” demands to continue.
Setting your professional boundaries, and communicating them, allows you to take control of your time at work. Be clear in what you are able to do. For example, if you’re i n t he middle of f i nishing an important task and you are asked to do something else, explain that you are willing to do it but that either ( a) you have to finish the task at hand first or ( b) if you start working on the second task, it will mean the first will not be finished in time. Be c l e a r i n c o mmunicating y o ur boundaries. It gives you control.
Learning to set healthy personal and professional boundaries puts you on a road to better health and wellbeing and can help decrease the chances of burnout. Just think about this – 80 per cent of chronic illnesses are caused by lifestyle- related issues. Setting personal and professional boundaries is a simple way to empower yourself, take control of your life and protect your self- care.
If you feel the need to please others and put their needs before your own, it can be a very daunting thought to assert yourself to say no. However, saying no is powerful and for those who are people pleasers it can be a game changer. Reclaiming your voice and using it with kindness and self- respect – what could be better?
Eighty per cent of chronic illnesses are caused by lifestyle- related issues. Setting personal and professional boundaries is a simple way to empower yourself
Here are some top tips on how to say no without feeling bad:
Just because you are saying you are not going to do something does not mean you have to be rude about it! A simple, “I’m sorry, I’m not able do this right now” is perfect. You don’t need to be overly apologetic or defensive about it, either. Once you start learning to say no, you will reduce the stress and the likelihood of burnout. Remember what I said about the way you think about yourself reflecting how you feel about yourself? Well, the same is true here – you teach people how you want to be treated. Standing firm and saying no is a way to show others you’re not at everyone’s beck and call, both at work and at home.
You can think about it
If you are uncomfortable with the idea of saying no immediately, take your time and think about it. If you want time to think about the request, or just simply have some time to see if this is something you want to do but you don’t have the time right now, simply saying, “I need to check my diary;
■ Once you start learning to say no, you will reduce the stress and the likelihood of burnout. Left, Siobhán Murray.