Six Tips to Reduce Stress and Avoid Burnout

“Nothing I do matters. My list is just as long or longer at the end of the day as it was when the alarm went off.” My client looked as defeated as his voice sounded. From the outside he had it all; wife, kids, house in the nice part of town, executive job title, membership at the local club where he could play golf, deacon at church, volunteer coach for t-ball … the list was expansive. He went on, “I can’t keep going at this pace. It’s killing me.”

He was suffering from burnout. And going on vacation would only make his inbox a mess. He needed to understand what was happening and how to fix it.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is typically described as physical and mental exhaustion brought on by overwork.  I agree with the exhaustion part.  “Overwork” is much too vague.  It is possible to work hard and long at something you love and not feel burnout.  If we put time and effort into something we do not love and/or we feel like we have no control of the outcome, we are stressed and we burnout.  

Responsibility Without Authority = Burnout: Change the Equation

  1. What are your control-ables? – Make a list of all the things you are responsible for at home, at work and in your social life. On a scale of 1-10 (one being no control and ten being complete control) how much influence/control do you have to create positive outcomes. If your answer is >5, consider how you can change it and/or if it is a good use of your time.
  2. Start asking yourself the tough questions - Who has expectations of you? Are they reasonable expectation?  Do you have to do it or could it be delegated or declined?  Do you have the authority to be successful?  Are you creating unreasonable expectations for yourself?
  3. You DO have time – Remove the saying “I don’t have time” from your vocabulary.  Start saying “That wasn’t a priority” instead. You spend time on things that are important to you. This small change will bring how you are spending your time to the forefront. If you find yourself saying that feeding your kids healthy meals or talking to your spouse or taking care of your health isn’t a priority, you can bet you’re headed for burnout.
  4. You DON’T have to have all the answers – As leaders we are used to people coming to us with questions and giving them answers.  What if you stopped having all of the answer all of the time? Your employees, family and friends are capable of coming up with solutions on their own, let them.
  5. Stop inflicting help – If you weren’t specifically asked to help develop and implement a solution, don’t get involved. As a problem solver there is no doubt you could jump right in to make things better. Do you really need something else on your to-do list?
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others - If you give 75% when your competitor has a bad day and you perform better than they do, is that success?  If you give everything you have and they are superior, is that failure?  If your answer to either or both of those questions is yes you can bet you are headed for burnout.  You can only control you; not you compared to anyone.

There are ALWAYS responsibilities that can and should be shifted to someone else, a few that don’t actually need to be done at all and several where the accountability and the control don’t match.  One or the other has to change, more control or less accountability.  Those are the places to start having the tough conversations if you want to be successful and avoid feeling burned out and unhappy.

Have you ever experienced burnout? What did you do that helped?

As always, I wish you the MOST from your potential!

Doc Robyn

Dr. Robyn Odegaard (aka “Doc Robyn”) is internationally known conflict resolution expert, motivational speaker, executive coach and corporate trainer.  As CEO of Champion Performance Development, she works with executives, professionals, athletes, and coaches to help them achieve excellence in all aspects of life through active leadership, powerful teamwork, effective communication, Productive Conflict™ and professional disagreement skills.  She is the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the books Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams and The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time.  To work with her one-on-one, have her present to your team, request a custom workshop or invite her to speak at your event, email her at or call 302-307-3091.

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