• Arianna Radji Lee

Beating Burn Out: Tips to Keep You Sane when Juggling Jobs

You might have heard the term ‘burn out’ used over recent years as a term to describe feelings of being physically and emotionally run down. You may have also seen, felt or even found yourself rolling your eyes at yet more millennial jargon.

But, as of 2020, the phrase ‘burn-out’ has officially been recognised as a global medical condition since it was added to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases. Their definition of the term is ‘a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’

I started this year with three jobs under my belt:

1) As a freelance event consultant where I am currently working for my client 3 days a week;

2) I also teach spinning at a boutique spin studio, four times a week, and

3) Most recently launched a business that aims to support women’s transition to motherhood by offering pre and postnatal health and wellbeing events, called Pachamama.

Now this might sound strange coming from someone who works in events, but I don’t deal well with stress. Ever since my father died 5 years ago, my levels of anxiety have risen to the surface and over the years I’ve had to find coping mechanisms to help keep my anxiety at bay; and now, more so than ever with three jobs on the go, I’ve really had to focus on the best ways to navigate my stress levels without compromising on the work itself or my own well-being.

Whatever you’re juggling, here are some of the things I have found useful when managing multiple things on the go. Some of my advice will resonate with you, some might not. Take what you can or what you need and start small. No one is going to have time to implement everything at once. I’d suggest picking one that you can add to your weekly schedule and try it. Once that becomes habit and routine, add another, then another. And whatever you do, don’t berate yourself for not having the perfect self-care regime. It doesn’t exist. The fact you’re even considering making yourself a priority is a massive step in the right direction.

Let me know how you get on and please do share any self-care rules and regimes you have that work for you in the comments below.

1. Set your non-negotiable. Whether it’s at home or at the office, be crystal clear on your working and lifestyle norms so that both you and others can make sure you stick to them. For example, if you’re a working mum, your non-negotiable might be that you need to leave work early on certain days to pick up your child from nursery. If you’ve vocalised and established that rule with your employer, you won’t end up feeling guilty or concerned about leaving when you need to, and your colleagues can adapt and adjust to support you achieve that.

2. Start with the things you love. Everyone’s got a to-do list. Mine is ginormous and is all over the place – I write notes on my phone, I have an app to help manage tasks, I email myself things to do and I set calendar reminders. For someone who’s so organised, the way I structure that organisation isn’t great, and when I look at the number of things I’ve got to get through it can be ridiculously overwhelming. When faced with a long list, most people tackle the hard jobs first and save the enjoyable ones till last. Well, I do the opposite. Behavioural change specialist and friend, Shahroo Izadi, taught me that it’s much easier to make a start on the harder tasks when I’m feeling good about myself. So now I start my day with the things I enjoy most or that are easy because they make me feel capable and confident enough to take on the more challenging tasks.

3. Dial down the digital. A lot of my work means having a social presence. As a spinning instructor I use Instagram to help build and celebrate my community of riders; and as a small business owner I use it to increase brand awareness. I’m also in about 20+ active WhatsApp groups that are a constant source of notification, even when muted! There’s no doubt that technology is incredible, but if we’re not careful, it can be incredibly harmful. The feeling of always having to be ‘on’ and available is exhausting, so here are some of the parameters I’ve set to protect myself:

  • The days I’m working for my client, I set my personal phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’. You can set a handful of people who, if they call you instead of text, can get through, but otherwise that phone doesn’t make a sound.

  • I’ve switched WhatsApp, Instagram and Mail notifications off. I know I will be opening these apps at certain points throughout the day regardless of getting notifications. So why have the added nuisance of getting reminders?

  • I allocate time for Instagram. If I didn’t, I’d be on it way more than I need to be. How many times have you found yourself unnecessarily scrolling through when bored?

  • No walking and texting. So many times I’ve almost bumped into someone on the street or wonder how I wasn’t run over because I didn’t check the road before crossing. Now, I listen to a podcast on my walk to the station or speak to my mum.

4. Proximity is power. Last year I was invited to a seminar by world-renowned life-coach Tony Robbins, which was a bizarre, wonderful and life-changing experience for me. One of the most significant lessons I took away from it is the idea that the people you surround yourself with and spend time with are ultimately who you become. He explains it here (yes, he does talk that quickly in real life!), and whilst he’s talking about it from a business perspective, I applied it to my personal life. I surround myself with family and friends who are loving, supportive, smart and successful in the hope that I, myself, become all of those things. Having friends who not only support my business goals, but who don’t make me feel guilty when I need to put work first, is incredibly rare and refreshing. So, find people that lift, bolster and encourage you when the going gets tough and be sure to recognise it when they need it in return.

5. Sleep is a healer. I think that if everyone was able to sleep as much as they needed, we’d be much healthier. But of course, with work, children and other commitments, not many have that luxury. I’m not a good sleeper. I find it hard to switch my brain off at night so it sometimes takes me hours to fall asleep, and when I finally do, it’s always disrupted. I find tiredness adds to my levels of stress and anxiety, so in order to help manage it, I plan my working week (where possible) and weekends to ensure there are at least one or two nights that I know I’m able to get eight to nine hours of sleep. I read Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep which claims that you can’t ‘bank’ sleep. But just knowing that there is even one night in the entire week that means I can ‘catch-up on’ the sleep I’ve missed out on, has massive psychological impact and in turn makes me feel less anxious about working late or waking up early on the other days.

Arianna is a born and bred Londoner with Persian heritage, who lives in North West London with her hubbie. Arianna is the founder of Pachamama, a company that supports women’s transition to motherhood by offering pre and postnatal health and wellbeing events. When she’s not working on Pachamama, she can be found consulting and producing events for her clients in the marketing and creative industries; and in the early hours of the morning she teaches spin classes at a boutique fitness studio, where she’s been an instructor for over two years. Arianna’s always had a relentless curiosity for new cultures and foods, which means she’s rarely in one place for long, either planning an upcoming trip or sharing details of the latest one on her travel recommendation website, Anonymous Traveller.

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