This month has a lot of people saying, “New year, same struggles”. 2021 is not off to an award-winning start, and a lot of the obstacles people were battling in 2020 are still lingering.
2020 was a year filled with uncertainty and a variety of challenges. After enduring a tough year, it should not come as a surprise that people are exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed; as a result, both their personal and professional lives have been affected. A new crisis is knocking on our doors – burnout.
In How to Prevent Personal Burnout, burnout is not when an employee is disengaged, but rather fatigued from chronic workplace stress that has been left unmanaged. If you are feeling burnt out, remember that it’s okay to feel this way and you’re not alone. Burnout is quickly becoming a common phenomenon; in a recent study by FlexJobs and Mental Health America, 75% of survey respondents stated they have experienced burnout in their jobs, with 40% of respondents citing experiencing burnout specifically during the pandemic. Another study conducted by Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence found that 1 in 5 employees are highly engaged yet exhausted, and that one-third of employees are moderately engaged but exhausted.
Battling Burnout with Emotional Intelligence
It is clear that burnout is on the rise. However, the ultimate solution is within our reach by leveraging our emotional intelligence. On top of managing your mindset, emotions, and energy, you can also strengthen your shield against burnout by enhancing some of your emotional intelligence competencies.
Practicing to utilize these skill sets provide a sense of readiness once burnout starts creeping in. Picture this – If burnout was your boxing opponent in the ring, putting on your EQ gloves will level the playing field. It’s time to put your emotional intelligence gloves on, and knock out burnout.
Emotional intelligence is the perfect defense in your combat with burnout. Outlined below are some key emotional intelligence competencies to help battle burnout, before it even gets a chance to enter the ring.
Self-awareness is understanding emotions and knowing how to control them. It is critical to note that emotions cannot be labelled as good or bad, or right or wrong; all emotions are valid. Individuals with high self-awareness recognize that emotions are just feelings, but have an impact on their decision making and the actions that follow. Once emotions are named, they become much easier to control.
Having high self-awareness can tackle burnout through recognizing and knowing the impact of each trigger. For example, if unrealistic expectations are causing you stress, recognize that you are stressed, and put your coping mechanisms into action. By staying in tune with your feelings, you will be able to acknowledge when burnout is happening, and kick it to the curb before it takes over. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, spent twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Research has proven that more optimistic people are healthier, more motivated, and have better career success.
Having high self-regard helps strengthen the value people have in themselves. If people value their emotional well-being, they will set boundaries to create a balance in their life.
Individuals with high self-regard can tackle burnout more quickly because they have likely already developed confidence in their abilities. They are self-reliant to weather the storm but also know when to ask for help. When people respect and value themselves, it helps them speak up and establish boundaries – saying “no” when necessary and asking for support when needed. It is totally okay to put yourself first and reflect on what you need to stay level-headed.
Emotional expression is the ability to express how you truly feel, both verbally and nonverbally. Expressing how you truly feel helps to unveil your corporate persona and creates a culture of transparency.
With the shift to remote work, the boundaries between work and personal lifestyles are blurred. This can accelerate burnout as existing boundaries are now diminished and we must adapt to this new normal. Therefore, it is important to express how you are truly feeling. Picture this – you have been in a Zoom meeting for over 2 hours, your eyes are tired and you cannot wait for the meeting to end. Do not sit there in silence – let your voice be heard! Let your team members know how you are feeling and suggest a stretch break to recharge. You may never know – a team member may be feeling the same way as you!
When you reveal your true emotions, transparency is created and it opens up the conversation for your team members. Voicing your opinions and emotions can nip burnout in the bud; after expressing your burnout triggers, your team can work together to find common ground to battle burnout.
As mentioned with emotional expression, creating a culture of transparency can tackle burnout. Developing interpersonal relationships is building meaningful connections with others and ultimately has a positive impact on your emotional well-being.
As workplaces have now shifted to at-home offices, teams also may feel disconnected from each other. As a result, burnout can quickly take over as team members feel isolated and alone.
However, strengthening your interpersonal relationships with your team members, friends, and family can aid in battling burnout. Make time to connect with your team members and loved ones – share your accomplishments, struggles, and goals with each other. Keep each other accountable and make sure to return the favour – support them just like how they support you. Tackling burnout is not a solo mission; by building a strong support network, your team will all win the fight against burnout.
When people develop high stress tolerance, it means they have developed strategies to handle their stress effectively. Managing stress allows people to move through stressful situations with effective coping mechanisms.
Practicing mindfulness can help enhance stress tolerance and prevent burnout. When people are mindful of their stress triggers and know how to handle them with ease, it makes the impact and duration of stress less painful. Managing your stress can range from creating a daily schedule with time slots designated to get work done to taking a few minutes to meditate and refocus. There is no single solution to stress management, so find what works best for you! For more techniques on managing stress, check out Using Your EQ to Cope with Stress During COVID-19.
People who practice optimism do not always have to be the organization’s cheermeister. It truly stems from having a positive outlook. They have confidence in themselves to be bigger than their problems. Optimistic people can take a step back and see the big picture, and turn a negative situation into an opportunity for growth.
Optimism allows people to tackle burnout by focusing on what can be controlled. It is essential to find the good in each workday and accept that the little obstacles are not worth the stress. In the big scheme of life, missing one project deadline is not going to hinder your well-being — unless you let it!
Emotional Intelligence: Burnout’s Kryptonite
These six competencies are the essential ingredients to battle burnout. Burnout is not an easy opponent, but know that your emotional intelligence competencies are burnout’s kryptonite. Tune into your superpower and defeat burnout with your emotional intelligence.
We acknowledge that the support for burnout may be beyond our EQ prevention tactics and encourage you to seek out professional help if needed. If you reside in Canada, here is a list of mental health resources you can reach out to. If you reside in the United States, here is a list of mental health resources you can reach out to.
If you are interested in learning more about how to develop your emotional intelligence competencies, check out our online mastery program, which covers all 15 emotional intelligence competencies in depth. In addition, if you are curious about the impact of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace, check out our Emotional Intelligence keynote and learn more about the benefits and significance of emotional intelligence at work.