When you are a high achiever, you are naturally driven. But what happens when work becomes too much for you? If instead of saying, “I can’t do this anymore” you decide to go deeper into it, you can eat you up from the inside out. Eventually you burnout. Hard core.

Tina is a burnout survivor. It took quite a drastic change for her to be able to look within herself. And when she did, here is what she saw, “Burnout just morphed into stress and anxiety and just made this giant tsunami.” She felt like she was drowning. It took a lot for her to be able to say, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Here’s the back story. Tina is a giver. Not only that, she is an over-giver. She wanted to give the kids she was teaching everything she had. Which leads us to…

Mistake #1: When you give everything to your job, there is nothing left to give to yourself or your loved ones.

For a long time, Tina would never take any days off because she didn’t want to “abandon” her students. She constantly pushed herself to do more due to her sense of over-responsibility. She put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own until she had nothing left to give. This is a recipe for burnout because none of us are a perpetual motion machine. We don’t have endless amounts of energy. We need to recharge.

The tendency to sacrifice yourself for the good of others is common in people who are givers and those who are people pleasers. They overextend themselves from a place of caring. Their self-care is wishy-washy and this behavior stems from their beliefs about themselves and other people. If you identify as an overgiver, here are some suggestions to implement:

If you haven’t taken a day off in years and you have tons of vacation time, take time off. You don’t need to burnout, to quit your job or your career to realize that you can take time off. That’s what vacation days are for.

Make sure you take breaks throughout the day. If you can take time to charge your phone, you can take time to charge up your own battery.

Recognize how important you are and that your worth is not contingent on your productivity.

Mistake #2: When you bring stress home from work, you can’t show up for your loved ones the way you want to.

Work can feel stressful. It’s your job to transition mentally, emotionally, and physically from your job at the end of the workday. Otherwise, like Tina, you might bring the stress and burnout you feel at work to your family.

If you are working from home, this can feel even more challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s about being intentional.

The reason burnout became sky high in the midst of COVID-19 is because more people started working from home. They no longer had a physical distinction between work and home. That’s why you need to make a mental shift. Here are some ways you can do that:

Slip into some comfortable clothes after work. By changing out of your work clothes, you are symbolically taking work off of you.

Establish boundaries about when work is done. Turn off notifications and let the phone go to voicemail. All those emails, texts, and messages will be there for you in the morning.

Engage in a routine to shift out of work mode. This can include going for a walk, taking a shower, listening to music, meditating, or playing with your kids.

Mistake #3: Having unrealistic expectations of yourself in terms of performance and needs

High achievers are notorious for focusing externally on achievement. In the process of trying to accomplish more and more, they sacrifice sleep, they skip meals, they don’t make time for exercise and they run out of steam.

These behaviors result from a feeling of anxiety. If you find yourself constantly worrying about how you’re going to finish everything on your plate despite the fact that you’re exhausted and the reason you’re so exhausted is because you are only focusing on work, you’re in a catch-22.

Despite popular belief that by doing more you achieve more, if you want to achieve optimal performance, you need to manage your energy, focus, and thinking. Without energy, you cannot function. Rather than asking, “What’s wrong with me?” when you feel exhausted, recognize that you are tired and take a nap. Without focus, work takes much longer than it needs to and eats up your personal time. And when you aren’t managing your mind, you end up judging yourself, sabotaging your health, and staying stuck in a loop.

To avoid this trap, here are some tips:

Make sure your expectations for what is possible correlates to your resources. Manage your energy through adequate sleep, healthy nutrition, and movement and listen to your body.

Identify unhelpful thinking patterns that lead to negativity. These include “should” statements, comparing yourself to others, and catastrophizing about the future

Recognize that you are not a victim of your circumstances. Your job is not the reason for your burnout. It’s your engagement with your job that is the problem. This is good news because you have control over yourself.

Tina’s dedication to her work did not go unnoticed. She was nominated for Teacher of the Year. But because she burned out trying to be the perfect teacher, she ended up quitting her career. She now is self-employed and is a much nicer boss to herself than she was as an employee. Her mistakes may have led her to burnout before, but she is applying the lessons learned and she is thriving.

You don’t have to quit your job. You don’t have to change careers. Even if work feels stressful now, you can avoid burnout by working smarter, not harder.

-Written by Dr. Sharon Grossman, author of the international bestseller, The 7E Solution to Burnout: Transforming High Achievers from Exhausted to Extraordinary. To dive deeper into the kinds of mindsets you need to avoid burnout, check out her free webinar, The 3 Mindset Hacks High Achievers Need to Avoid Burnout.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Sharon Grossman is the founder of the Exhausted to Extraordinary™ Method, a 3-step method to unblock your mind, reshape your thinking, and return the joy to your work in 90 days. As a psychologist, coach, and author of the international bestseller, The 7E Solution to Burnout, Dr. Sharon works with 6-figure executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals in high-stress industries who are struggling with anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout. She shares tips and strategies as a keynote speaker and on her weekly podcasts, Optimize Your Life and The Women in Medicine Badass Radioshow. Enroll in her free webinar, The 3 Mindset Hacks High Achievers Need to Avoid Burnout