Ask A Results Coach: Navigating (and avoiding) burnout | HerCanberra

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Ask A Results Coach: Navigating (and avoiding) burnout

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Feeling drained? Burnt out?

It’s natural to feel tired sometimes—especially as we near the end of 2021. We’ve been through a lot over the last 18 months and it’s natural that this will affect all areas of our life, including our goals.

Enter Alex Wright-Moore, a Results Coach who has kindly offered to answer some commonly asked questions she gets from clients—and share her knowledge with the HerCanberra audience.

Each month, Alex will explore some of the ways we can better understand what challenges us and empowers us to find solutions.

“I am a busy person who prides myself on leading a full, well-rounded and active life, but I always feel like I am running behind and playing catch up with a never-ending ‘To Do’ List.

It is exhausting juggling the multiple responsibilities of family, career and social commitments. How can I better keep up and ensure I am not letting anyone down, without burning out?”

Living a well-rounded life is one of the most ambitious and rewarding goals we can set ourselves in the modern world today.

There is no doubt that we live in a fast-paced society where life can sometimes feel relentless with a myriad of competing priorities. This being the case, having an active and busy life can often become our default way of living. But having a full, well-rounded and rewarding life?

Now, finding that sweet spot is a little trickier.

With the increasingly uncertain, volatile, ambiguous and complex world we live in, it is unsurprising that many of us are struggling to find balance and keep our stress and energy levels in check. So here are some ways we can positively engineer the changes we seek to achieve in our lives as the end of the year approaches.

We can pause regularly for greater clarity

With the ebb and flow of daily life, we can often lose sight of the value of taking a quiet moment to check in with ourselves. Overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of tasks on our ‘To Do’ lists, our tight schedules and a range of personal and professional commitments, it can sometimes feel counter-productive to take a break for reflection and contemplation when life is so busy.

It is also understandable that we fear wasting our time—after all, our time is a precious and finite resource. But when we fall into fear-based and purely reactive thinking in our lives, it can impact our ability to make good decisions with clarity.

One such example is when we start to believe that if we take a break now, then we will in some way have to pay for it later: either punished by lost time and money, greater stress, social criticism, pressing deadlines, missed opportunities…and the list goes on.

Yet, failing to give ourselves permission to pause when our minds, bodies, hearts and spirits are crying out for rest, is a guaranteed shortcut to burnout town. Conversely, if we listen to our intuition and our body when it tells us to take a break, it can do wonders for our lives.

In this vein, author of The Pause Principle, Kevin Cashman, contends that “in our fast-paced, achieve-more-now culture, the loss of pause potential is epidemic. If we do not step back, to stop momentum, to gain perspective and to transcend the immediacies of life, and to accelerate growth, we will continue to crash economically, personally and collectively.”

As an antidote to our addiction to speed and transaction, Cashman describes pause as “the conscious, intentional process of stepping back to reflect and deliberate, and then more forward with greater clarity and impact.” But it also provides an opportunity for our thoughts and ideas to mature, evolve and transform by the time we come back to them.

And the best bit? All it takes is a commitment to pausing for 10 minutes of mindfulness each day to achieve a transformation which enables us to prevent stress and minimise overwhelm.

Still doubtful that it could work? Check out the TEDTalk below from co-founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, to find out more.

So whether we set aside time for a short mindfulness meditation like this one here or here get outside to enjoy a cup of tea in the sunshine, completely switch off all sound around us, go on a short walk or block out a daily 10 minute ‘Think Time’ appointment in our work calendars, the benefits to be gained from taking the time to pause may just be worth it.

Furthermore, research tells us that regularly making time to pause more deeply in both our personal and professional lives not only improves our ability to better focus on what we want, but also enables us to grow and get the most out of the individual gifts, talents and abilities we have. So rather than merely doing more, if we can learn to pause and do things differently, we can accelerate our ability to grow, achieve, lead and innovate in ways which can bring our life greater rewards. For more information about how and why, see here.

We can identify what sustains and what depletes our energy

When we are stuck in a busyness vortex of competing commitments and responsibilities, it is easy to become confused about which activities and people are sustaining vs. depleting our energy stores.

Generally, this is because when we are faced with multiple demands, life can feel overwhelming and lines can become blurred. Moreover, rushing from one thing to the next doesn’t necessarily provide us with a sufficient window for real time analysis of how we think and feel.

But the key to maintaining our health and wellbeing in both work and life is identifying exactly which activities provide us with sustenance, as opposed to those which drain the fuel we have in our tank.

The truth is, when we start to pay attention to how we feel about a task, instead of what we think about it, it can reveal some confronting truths about who we are. We may feel rewarded, rejuvenated and exhilarated by tasks we didn’t anticipate – and resentful and exhausted by activities which society, our peers or our loved ones deem socially acceptable or mandatory.

Nevertheless, the secret to living with more energy can be summarised in four simple steps:

  • Regularly listening to our bodies and emotions to tune in to how things make us feel
  • Limiting our engagement with what unreasonably drains us where possible
  • Putting boundaries in place to preserve our energy
  • Investing time each week in activities that fill our cup and restore our sense of vitality.

For those looking for inspiration on how to boost energy on a daily basis, Alicia Dumais Temmerman also provides quick and simple techniques in her book Pure Energy: The Busy Woman’s Energy Guide to Thrive.

We can be clear and consistent about our boundaries

Often the amount of balance we have in our lives directly reflects the health and consistency of the emotional, mental and physical boundaries we have in place to maintain our wellbeing.

When we live full and active lives, having healthy boundaries is about so much more than how we manage our time.

Our boundaries reflect the standards we hold ourselves to, how we allow ourselves to be treated by others and our internal monologue about who we are, why we’re here and what we are seeking to achieve.

So when we struggle with being consistent with our boundaries, commonly it is an indication that we are either: (a) Motivated by passion for a specific vision we would like to realise in our lives linked to our sense of identity or purpose; or (b) Driven by what we ‘should’ or must do when we are making decisions—as opposed to what we ‘can’ or are ‘able to’ do.

While on the surface these options look relatively innocent, both can get us into real trouble if we are aiming to live a well-rounded and fulfilling life.

Insofar as the former, when we focus on achieving one vision to the exclusion of all else, it often knocks our sense of balance off-kilter. As for the latter, when we use terms such as ‘should’ and ‘must’ it pits what is, against what we believe ought to be—rendering us vulnerable to what German psychoanalyst, Karen Horney, referred to as the ‘tyranny of the shoulds’.

Generally ‘should’ beliefs exist for a reason: They have either served us in the past by helping to shape our concept of how the world works or how we should behave in it. But ‘shoulds’ also speak to black-and-white standards that can leave us feeling disappointed and stressed in our often-grey world.

Similarly, American psychologist Albert Ellis wrote of the impact of ‘musts’ in our lives, highlighting that using the term ‘must’ creates demand on ourselves and others which often only serve as a source of anxiety, guilt, shame, depression, self-hatred or anger.

When we worry we will ‘let others down’ by having boundaries in place, it is commonly because we are beating ourselves up with ‘should’ or ‘must’. So, whenever we catch ourselves saying, ‘I should be doing this… or I must be doing that,’ it is an indication that it is time to take a step back, pulse check if our boundaries are in the right place and ask ourselves ‘Why?’.

Changing up our vocabulary to shut the door on ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ with the techniques available here can also empower us to live happier and more rewarding lives focused on what we can and are able to do.

In essence, our boundaries help us to identify our capacity and limits, allow us to feel safe and give us peace of mind that we have supports in place to survive whatever life throws our way.  Hence, it is essential to remind ourselves that being clear about our boundaries is an act of kindness to both ourselves and others which ensures expectations always remain achievable and realistic.

We can make self-care, self-compassion and self-love non-negotiables of our life

Finally, developing an ability to silence our inner critic and suspend judgement about ourselves through the daily practice of self-care, self-compassion and self-love is the cornerstone of creating a life with greater flow, ease and fulfillment.

For anyone looking for a pragmatic place to start with this today, the seven week Self Care Challenge below has been designed in accordance with proven techniques backed by neuroscientific research to help us tap into the power of breath work, inspiration, nature, reward, reflection, appreciation and exercise.

But for those looking for something more, the Australia/New Zealand 2021 Self Love Summit for Mental Wellbeing will be held on 3, 4, 5 December 2021 and more information about this free event is available here.

Taking time to recharge, regroup and reset is one of the most powerful ways we can mitigate overwhelm and foster wellbeing on a recurrent basis in our lives. More importantly, embedding positive habits in our daily routine is the greatest tool we have at our disposal to foster the balance so many of us yearn for.

Ultimately, the ability to deliberately create a life of our own choosing, rests firmly within our hands. But whether we decide to act upon it, that’s up to us.

So, why wait any longer? There is no time like the present to begin.


The content in this article represents the individual ideas of the writer alone and outlines general advice only. It does not replace individual, independent or personal advice, mental health treatment and/or crisis support.

Coaching does not prevent, cure, or treat any mental health disorder and does not substitute for therapy from a licensed professional if necessary.

Should you require emergency crisis support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or see your GP to discuss a mental health care plan which can help you access the support you need.


Credit: Alex Wright-Moore.

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Neither Alex Wright-Moore, nor HerCanberra receive any kickbacks, commissions, gifts or fees for mentioning anything contained within.

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