Avoiding Burnout - Gabby's family

Avoiding Burnout with Bucket Fillers

Guest Post – Gabriela Robles, Chief Executive, St. Joseph Fund, and Chief Mission Integration Officer, South Division, Providence St. Joseph Health

Not only is May Mental Health Month, but I’ve noticed more peers expressing feelings of burnout, so I thought it a good time to share my experiences with burnout and its potential effects on mental health. Burnout isn’t necessarily new, but normalizing it and glorifying the hustle are recent phenomena. Harvard Business Journal has written many articles on the topic.–I am particularly interested in the recently-published “How Burnout Became Normal – and How to Push Back Against It.”

It doesn’t matter how much you love your job or the gratification it gives; burnout is real. Some days, I feel more behind than others and feel like I am playing catch-up before I even get out of bed. I’ve described these emotions as feeling “out of control,” “behind,” “tired,” and “disconnected.” For me, this is very different from depression. The feelings are siloed—I am just not always able to mentally disconnect from work.

My kids and husband help keep me balanced and focused on the present. They will always be my first priorities, but I still find myself negotiating ways to maximize my days. I wonder if getting up earlier would help, but that doesn’t feel sustainable.

As leaders, we must model the proper (healthy) behaviors, including finding joy, being happy, and completely shutting the work switch off. How can we do that? I started by creating a list of things that bring happiness and making the time to do them. My list includes cooking, baking, having a clean house, photography, spending time with friends, and staying dedicated to my faith. And at the top of my list is laughing and being silly with my kids. Starting this list lets me know that I may need to relearn how to do things I used to love – like traveling, even if it’s difficult with kids.

The stress we all feel isn’t going away, but I know that I not only want to, but I need to be more thoughtful about scheduling time to do things I enjoy, like going to the movies or even sitting down long enough to enjoy one at home. I’m a sucker for good Bollywood romance.

If you’re experiencing burnout, maybe we can be catalysts for each other’s to-do lists and crowdsource a list of things we can do to stave it off. I’ve shared what fills my bucket but I’d love to know what you do now or think you could add to your life to bring you joy.