Breaking the Cycle: Strategies to Prevent Burnout

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For generations, women have been expected to do everything for everyone without complaining or even equity. We're caregivers, guardians, problem-solvers, breadwinners and esteemed leaders. Combining these limitless roles and the evolving workforce has presented a unique set of stressors. For many, it's not easy to "just leave work at your desk" due to today's digital age resulting in 42% of women experiencing burnout compared to 35% of men.

Burnout is the byproduct of unsolved or unmanaged stress, which women are reporting at a higher rate than a year ago. This comes on the cusp of giving each task your all, feeling "always on," filling up your plate with more and doing it all over again the next day. This pace isn't a choice for many due to their unique circumstances. Many women report that this cycle never ends and the impact of burnout lends itself to feelings of unhappiness, cynicism and exhaustion.

But what if through the chaos from burnout, you could find your breakthrough? It's possible and you can do it with the support of your friends, family and community. We are not meant to navigate life alone!

In my nearly 20 years of experience in the mental health field, I've guided thousands of individuals and organizations in building lasting mental wellness solutions. Pertaining to burnout, it begins with understanding the difference between tired, stressed and burnt out. This gives you insight into what you're facing and how to begin the process towards managing life better.

Burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion resulting from chronic, unrelenting stress relating to one's responsibilities, personally and professionally. It can be caused by systemic and oppressive issues, the glass or cement ceiling, insufficient support and a mismatch between values and demands at home or work. Burnout is most noticed when an individual feels overwhelmed, drained and unable to meet the demands placed upon them.

Stress is having too much on your plate and finding it difficult to get tasks done. Burnout is quite the opposite, resulting in depleted motivation, energy and even not caring about what happens around you. Keep in mind that burnout is often misinterpreted as depression. Depression impacts every aspect of your life, causing you to feel sad, worthless, and hopeless with diminished interest in activities and significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns. This state of functioning may look different for each person and should not be ignored. Burnout may manifest in similar ways, yet some don't always feel depressed.

To combat burnout, you must start acknowledging it's there, assessing how to better manage it and taking action to prevent it from worsening. Effective coping strategies include, but are not limited to:

1. Be proactive in evaluating your responsibilities.
2. Stop striving for balance, but aim for harmony.
3. Understand your capacity for stress and set boundaries.
4. Check your mindset, beliefs and actions around self-care.
5. Be willing to accept help from loved ones and professionals.
6. Breakdown days, weeks and months into manageable pieces.
7. Break free from an imposter mindset, learn to delegate workloads.

As you think about where to start with breaking free from burnout, identify small steps or tasks and the plan to get them done. Practice giving yourself grace and compassion. There is no judgment.

As a mental wellness strategist, speaker, therapist and podcaster, my motto is "Burnout Ain't It!" I instill this within my clients at Beloved Wellness Center and listeners of the Space for Sistas Podcast. It's a motto that encourages those around me, especially women, to live and leave a legacy without burning out.

Each year, Inforum, a nonprofit focused on leadership development and opportunities for women, hosts its annual Capstone event to celebrate the achievements of female leaders in their community and beyond. I'm honored to keynote this event and share how we can find our breakthroughs from burnout to live well.

Join me and Michigan's powerful women on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. Event and ticket details can be found here.

As women navigating the professional landscape, recovering from and preventing burnout is pivotal to your mental health and wellness. It's time to show up for yourself, offer support and serve others. Are you ready?

Born to challenge the status quo, Dr. Dominique Pritchett, PsyD, LCSW, is a mental wellness strategist, speaker, therapist, and podcaster. She is the owner of Beloved Wellness Center™ as well as the founder and podcast host of Space for Sistas™ where she centers the experiences of Black women and girls. Dr. Dominique empowers clients, corporations, colleges and community agencies to stake their claim in the mental wellness movement by prioritizing solutions to shatter burnout. She has been featured on BBC London Radio, Shondaland, Women's Health Magazine, The New York Times, and many more.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Dominique Pritchett.


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