5 Things You Could Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout
My interview with Authority Magazine
Hello! My interview with Authority Magazine was just released and felt it appropriate to share with this newsletter. Click here if you’d rather read it on Medium.
Millions of Americans are returning back to work after being home during the pandemic. While this has been exciting for many, some are feeling burned out by their work. What do you do if you are feeling burned out by your work? How do you reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back”? What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
In this interview series called “Beating Burnout: 5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout,” we are talking to successful business leaders, HR leaders and mental health leaders who can share insights from their experience about how we can “Beat Burnout.”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Yasmin, Pillar Board Accredited Health & Wellness Coach
Adam has coached many parents, teams, and organizations in rebuilding a tech/life balance through mindfulness and emotional intelligence. He brings over a decade of experience across design & tech, digital wellness, and Chinese tea culture studies. His passion lies at the intersection of emotional well-being and digital health to help families and remote teams manage a tech/life balance effectively and navigate uncertainty.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My childhood was defined by insecure attachment relationship styles with both my toxic parents — One of them neglected and abandoned, while the other gaslit and navigated parenting through conditional love ultimatums. I grew up a third culture kid in Los Angeles far from Israel, my place of birth. With ancestry in Morocco, Italy, Eastern Europe, and Russia, I did what Jews throughout history have done — assimilate to the culture that you’re steeped in. As an elder millennial I was fortunate to have my first years and early adolescence marked by the innocence of being the last generation before the predominance of the internet and connectivity.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Without many trustworthy elders in my life I came to a coaching career mostly through my own passion in ‘showing up for other people’. In an air of vulnerability, I feel it’s important to share my story of failure and survival through a personal bankruptcy during lockdown in 2020 that made it possible to start on my coaching path. Prior to that time, I spent most of my adult life as a professional musician and freelance designer along with becoming a first time father in the summer of 2015.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
It needs to be said that my partner and mother to our daughter, Pamela, was and remains my biggest influence as a coach. From her encouragement to her profound capability as a coach, her support has helped me forge my own path to coaching. My time as a student of Chinese tea culture tremendously influenced how I understood holding an embodied coaching container and how to hold space.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I’m unabashedly open about my failures and shortcomings, so this is a rather difficult question to answer. Between parenting in a pandemic, estranging yourself from toxic family, and going through a personal bankruptcy amidst lockdown I will say that not pursuing coaching earlier in my adulthood is a funny pseudo-mistake, but here we are.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Hurt people hurt people”
“It is what it is”
Both of these quotes have been painfully personal to me and helpful in perspective, which is why it resonates so much with me, and a huge reason why I pursued EWB (emotional well-being) coaching.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Right now I’m focusing on coaching remote teams & distributed organizations on how to implement a tech/life balance that resonates with each individual involved. The fact that we’ve gone through such immense digital transformation over the past two years (and continuing) means we have much to discuss and consider when it comes to emotional well-being and digital health. If I’m not coaching teams directly, then I’m also spending 2022 speaking to teams and organizations on the topic.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of burnout?
I was a freelance UX designer simultaneous with becoming a first-time parent in 2015. I worked with startups and agencies, in-office and remote, and saw then how toxic hustling productivity was fraying office culture and dehumanizing workers. In 2016 I began offering my in-office tea ceremony service, to help teams slow down and engage in mindful team building strategies (this service didn’t transition so well into a purely virtual offering, but still worthy of conversation). We can only imagine how much has gone off the rails during the past two years of pandemic and mass-migration to remote-only. My certifications in Digital Wellness Education and Emotional Well-being coaching also help with credibility on the topic.
Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about beating burnout. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Burnout”? Can you explain?
I see burnout as many things, most notably an emotional and physiological response of feeling beyond exhausted due to unending stress, specifically when feeling overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. I feel we’ve co-created a myth surrounding burnout that only certain folks may experience it, or that it’s not such a big deal, but when the pandemic began and everyone but frontline workers shifted to remote, we finally got to hear from a diverse group of voices across society about the real effects of it. Where I’m particularly sensitive to it stems from my ‘parent’ and ‘technologist’ identities.
How would you define or describe the opposite of burnout?
The opposite of burnout is likely many things to many people. I’d start with spaciousness, bandwidth, and creativity.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Some sceptics may argue that burnout is a minor annoyance and we should just “soldier on’’ and “grin and bear it.” Can you please share a few reasons why burnout can have long-term impacts on our individual health, as well as the health and productivity of our society?
The myth of “soldiering on” is rooted in a bygone era. No one 20–30–40–50 years ago could’ve imagined what work would look like today so it’s a huge inaccuracy to lean into that notion. Burnout can have profoundly long term implications on our individual and societal health because we exist as interconnected systems embedded within a global interconnected system. Just take the recent example of supply-chain woes at the end of 2021. In essence, that system reached burnout and after which we are dealing with long term implications of that complication…. gas prices, retail prices, etc.
Burnout can have long term impact for the very reason that this western culture we co-inhabit promotes “just getting on” or the false hope of “it’ll solve itself”. What we risk doing is making a situation worse by not addressing it early with more bandwidth and resources.
From your experience, perspective, or research, what are the main causes of burnout?
From my humble experience the main causes of burnout are both diminished self-awareness and an overdrive to complete / succeed against the ebb and flow of day-to-day human existence.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. What can an individual do if they are feeling burned out by work? How does one reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back?” Can you please share your “5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout?”. (Please share a story or an example for each.)
Step 1. Pause, think, engage in self-inquiry.
If you recognize there’s an issue seek council for perspective.
Step 2. Disengage.
Step away. Put your laptop on sleep mode. Put the phone down. Reconnect with your body. If you’re activated, try breathing or moving your body to get into relaxation. If you’re numb and disconnected, relish in a mindful moment. Eat a piece of chocolate. Stretch / move the body. Drink a glass of water. Have a mindful meal.
Step 3. Self-care rituals.
When you’ve had some space to process what you’re feeling take the initiative to rediscover or experiment with rituals. It could be anything. A walking meeting. Time for solitude. Morning rituals that buffer you from daily stress for the first 30 minutes. A tea break. A coffee break. A lunch. Dedicated time with a coach or therapist. Weekly or daily calls with friends or family. Make art. Garden. Try something that involves reverence and your hands.
Step 4. Communicate.
Be sure to communicate with someone outside of work but also with folks at work. Even if you’re a remote worker, talk to your colleagues. Talk to your superior. If there isn’t an open minded culture around mental health issues then this is a good time to pioneer that. If there isn’t a “water cooler” space for colleagues to connect then this is a prime time to start one. By choosing to voice our experiences, we gain perspective and tools we might not have been able to utilize, thus creating the conditions for improvement.
Step 5. Reflect.
Where there weren’t opportunities for communication and self-care, now there are. Perhaps your actions and intentions may have helped a colleague connect with their individual burnout experience. Connection is really the most difficult step in this process because it could look so many different ways. Whether through friends, family, coaching, therapy, or counseling — connection is imperative to gain perspective and have the accountability to transcend the issue of burnout.
What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to help someone they care about reverse burnout?
Embrace empathy and make space for that special someone to open up about their experience
What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
Encourage a culture of open communication.
Create a water cooler space.
Engage mental health resources as amenities.
Budget for a coach, consultant, etc.
Promote & maintain actual boundaries between work and personal life.
Agree that no work engagements are expected before 9am or after 6pm, for example.
Make sure nothing is asked for out of office hours.
Embrace honest critical feedback.
These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
Amplify employee stories of burnout.
Seed a culture of compassion within the workplace.
Reinvent what a work/life balance could be now in the age of remote work.
Practice slowing down.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to reverse burnout in themselves or others? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?
A week away for a retreat is nice in the moment, but is a bandaid that is ripped off too fast when thrust back into the rat race without any chance to integrate methods of resilience against burnout.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
To inspire everyone to slow down over a cup of tea.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
I would like to have tea with Yuval Harari
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!