3 years of hard

The burnout crisis is more real than ever. The last 3, yes 3 years, have been a big push for many business owners and leaders. There was the immediate scare of “What could this pandemic mean for us?” and then the reality as lots of change set in. What we knew was that certainty was out the window and our ability to adapt was going to be tested to the highest degree.

Businesses everywhere had to find new ways to operate, new ways to support the people in the business, new ways to think, to service customers and new ways to behave. The word “pivot” was used frequently.

On top of the business demands were layered personal ones. Multiple people trying to work in one household, children being schooled (or maybe not) from home, limited ability to move about around neighborhoods and a whole host of other personal challenges. Mental fitness became highlighted, or in many cases, the lack thereof. For those who had been consciously taking care of their bodies and minds to that point, they were in a much better place to manage the impact of the pandemic effectively. For those who were under pressure in this space already, the changes really hit hard.

It became very clear that taking care of our mindset was essential. We define resilience as the “speed at which we bounce back from adversity”. Many people did not bounce well, and continue to be stretched by the changing world. The upside has been that businesses took it seriously in most cases and put great support around their people to support their energy, wellbeing and mostly mental fitness (and ability to bounce back).

At the same time as the pandemic, the world has faced huge economic pressures, significant wars and environmental turmoil. The background (or what should perhaps be foreground) noise has been loud. After 2 years in and out of lockdowns, leaders are ready to get on with things and find some degree of “normality” and steadiness again. Frustratingly for many however, this third year has only held more pressure.  Many leaders have just held their breath through the struggle and chaos of the previous 2 years, waiting for things to settle. In some cases, businesses have thrived in a new environment and found exceptional new ways to operate. However, leaders have not managed their own mental energy well. People are tired.

What’s been happening neurologically? Well, it’s a basic human need to have some degree of certainty. We crave it. We look for it everywhere. We need it to function. It’s what allows us to get out of bed in the morning and feel safe enough to leave our homes. The last 3 years have had none. Certainty couldn’t be further from our reality in so many respects. So, our brains have been straining.

Our cognitive energy (the energy we use to think and perform) has been overworked and exhausted. This is different to our physical energy which requires physical rest, although they often feel much the same. It is time for all of us, leaders in particular, to put the care of our energy to the top of the list. It’s been a long stretch and if we keep operating in a way that is continuously pushing against our natural need to recuperate then we will find ourselves in a storm of burnout.

Take the time now to consider what you to restore and re-energise your mind. When do you give it nourishment? When do you let it rest? Are you prioritising your sleep, your breath and your energy? If not, now is the time.

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