Avoiding burnout: 5 tips to putting yourself first

Take 15 minutes a day to avoid burnout, or suffer the consequences

Paula S. Katz | September 18, 2015

To avoid burnout and manage your stress, it is vital to make time for yourself. If you are struggling to take at least 15 minutes out of your day for yourself, it might be time to for some self-introspection. Follow these tips from Deb Wood, PhD, senior consultant and certified employee assistance professional with Minneapolis-based VITAL Worklife, a national behavioral health consulting organization:

  1. Consider the price you’re paying. How important are your children to you at this time in your life? Are you missing your kid’s softball games? Is it important for you to be there? How do you make that happen? If you can’t make it for two full hours, could you sneak in half an hour?
  1. Take small steps. To find out what’s realistic for you, look closely at your day and try to find small ways to catch a break. For example, can you get up 15 minutes earlier and read meditations before you go to work? Can you take a taxi or car service to work once a week so you don’t have the pressures of driving a car and fighting traffic? 

Dr. Wood worked with a female physician in her 30s who had been a runner all her life. The physician stopped running because she had no time unless it was at night, but she didn’t want to run in the dark. So she started running with her dog as her companion. This allowed her to feel she wasn’t being selfish because the dog needed to run—and that gave her permission she needed. The physician also took a time management course and got a tutor to help her understand the ins and outs of her group’s EMR. A year and a half later, she ran the Boston Marathon.

  1. Talk about it. You don’t have to know the solution to start a conversation. Express your concern to your family. Say, “I know I need to spend more time with you. How do I do that?” One idea is to hire a service to mow the lawn—unless you love doing that—so you can go to your kid’s softball games.

Talk to people at work, too. Tell your nurse you need to leave Thursday at 4 p.m., for example. Talk to schedulers to put some free time in your calendar.

  1. Find a mentor. Look for someone who seems to have a good work-life balance. Ask how they manage to achieve that.
  1. Re-evaluate your expectations. Examine your beliefs about what’s expected of you. How real are the expectations that have made you perfectionistic or convinced that no one can do your job as good as you can?

Finally, don’t forget, it is important to make time for yourself.


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