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3 Ways To Reduce Stress & Avoid Burnout

Rich Johnson
Rich Johnson

Posted Sep 28, 2021

According to the World Health Organization, burnout is an official medical diagnosis and it is affecting our lives and workplaces at an overwhelming rate (take this brief self-assessment to see if you’re at risk). Last week, we hosted a Strategy Breakfast on How to Reduce Stress and Avoid Burnout with Shani Harmon of Stop Meeting Like This. Shani led us through several exercises and discussions to unpack the following big ideas. 

1. Take Time To Breathe

We can lower our heart rate, reduce stress and reset our minds by pausing on a regular basis throughout the day to practice mindful breathing. Close your eyes and breathe in for a count of three, hold the breath for a count of three, then exhale for a count of three. Repeat that five times and notice how your body and mind have shifted to a more calm and centered place. 

2. Focus your Attention

We all struggle with maintaining focus. Multitasking is inefficient because our brains are only wired to concentrate on one thing at a time. We can reduce the stress that leads to burnout by turning off some of our alerts and not letting other people’s demands dictate our schedule. Batch process your emails a few times a day rather than instantly opening every new email. Block time in your calendar to work on your priorities and protect it. Use earphones with productive music.  

3. Reexamine Your Beliefs

Our behaviors are driven by our underlying beliefs and assumptions. Identify the beliefs that you, your team or your company have subscribed to that are promoting stress and leading to burnout. Then start with the behaviors you’d rather see and determine the beliefs or values that would support those behaviors. What would you need to believe in order to not check emails over the weekend, be willing to say no to a new task or give your team greater work flexibility? 

Shani’s recent article in Forbes, is a great resource if you want to go deeper. We’d love to see you at our next Strategy Breakfast August 6th on Courageous Communication for a Better Work Culture

Rich Johnson

Rich Johnson is a leadership coach and consultant with nearly two decades of experience starting, leading and advising organizations. Rich works at the intersection of people /culture and strategy /operations to create thriving places to work. As a Principal at sr4 Partners, he works with clients ranging from high growth startups to F100 companies, training their leaders, consulting on strategy, and designing programs that facilitate inclusive and thriving cultures. Rich’s work with diversity, equity and inclusion began in 2003 as a member of his company’s diversity council, and today includes leading executive-level consulting engagements for clients as they navigate these critical and uncharted waters. Rich founded Spark Ventures in 2007, a nonprofit funding jobs, education and healthcare in marginalized communities in Africa, Latin America and the U.S. In 2017, he cofounded Ignite, a leadership development company that was acquired by sr4 Partners in 2020. He speaks, writes and in his free time loves to read, run and hang with his two dogs.

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