Getting Through Burnout in the Moment
The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly altered our office life in many ways. One lasting effect has been fatigue and burnout. The internet is filled with tips for overcoming stress at work, and I don’t want to rehash the latest advice from NPR. Rather, I want to share a story about managing burnout in my life that I hope might inspire you to manage it in yours.
The Big Event
When my workplace was set to open a new wing—the first significant structural change in almost 50 years—I knew it would be an important and challenging career moment. To celebrate the opening, my company planned to put together a 16-day festival featuring over 500 events free to the public.
Given the “all-hands-on-deck” mentality to make the festival a success, we had additional responsibilities on top of our regular work. The details of the event changed daily, so we often had to scramble with our time and resources. My manager, coworkers, and I spent many late nights at the office.
At the start of the event preparation, I sat with my manager and coworkers, personally stressed and anxious about what was to come. I knew I would eventually experience burnout from the workload and high standards, and that I had to figure out a way that worked for me to do the job and stay positive.
That’s when I asked my team, “do you enjoy pedicures?”
Three confused faces turned to look at me. The question was unusual, but I’d had an idea. After receiving a resounding “yes!” from my manager and coworkers, I proposed that we get pedicures together after the festival had ended. It would give us something to look forward to and celebrate our hard work. So, I added the salon trip to our calendars.
After the Event
Seeing the event on my calendar gave me the extra “oomph” I needed for a few reasons.
1. It positively reinforced the “all-in-this-together” atmosphere. I felt comforted because I didn’t have to go through it alone.
2. I had something to look forward to that was special. I had a reward for extra motivation.
3. We would be on our feet more often than usual during the event. It would have a physical toll on my body so a pedicure would help restore my physical well-being.
According to the New York Times
, it is difficult to eliminate burnout with tactics like mine, but it can make your situation manageable in the short term. That’s all I needed to get to the other side.
The next time you know you’re facing a period of high stress; I encourage you to find your version of a trip to the salon. Whether that’s taking vacation time, buying yourself something off your Amazon wish list, or sitting down with your family for a meal, it’s worth investing in the light at the end of the tunnel.
For additional insight on burnout, check out this article in the Harvard Business Review
or this one from Forbes