Hub Australia member Jessica Hickman is an industry leader in mental health in the workplace, having lived through her own trials and tests. As one of Hub Australia’s Flexi-Impact members for 2019, her business Bullyology is continuing to grow its reach and impact.
Jessica has shared some of her journey and top tips to avoid burnout in the workplace.
In the single-minded pursuit of success, I’d fallen into bad habits – barely surviving on limited sleep, boozy weekends and too much sugar and coffee.
I lived on sheer adrenaline and momentum, repeating the same mantra every morning: “Another day, another dollar and only 12 more hours to go.”
I counted down until the next day off or holiday. I was the classic example of ‘presenteeism’ – an employee who is physically present but not all there emotionally.
I’d stopped living in the ‘right now’: my body was activated but my mind was on autopilot. I repeated the same patterns, engaged in the same self-destructive scenarios and suffered the same exhaustion, week in and week out.
Then it hit me – BURNOUT!
I finally began to appreciate that working long hours in a negative, stressful environment comes at a heavy price: disconnection from self, dwindling physical and emotional health and a battered sense of sense-fulfillment.
Making a change for survival’s sake
My main source of burnout and stress was a bullying boss and the fact that I wasn’t immediately able to walk away from my HR job, which was tied up with a sponsorship visa allowing me to stay in Australia – a country I had come to view as home.
Only after being hospitalized for severe stress and PTSD symptoms did I fully grasp the serious health implications of persisting with the status quo.
There was only so much I could change about the company I worked for or the narcissistic, intimidating bully who was my direct manager, but there was plenty I could change about myself.
I started by taking responsibility for my own mindset:
Tips to avoid burnout
- Positive self-talk – How you start the day shapes your success, so psych yourself up for an amazing day; believe in your ability to control what you can.
- Make your lunchtime me-time – Get some solitude and peace over lunch: walk in the park, sit in a quiet space and give yourself a tranquility break.
- Breakaway from energy vampires – Avoid social media, negativity-focused news and toxic relationships that drain your resolve and waste time.
- Reach out for help – All humans have strong and weak days; when you’re feeling isolated and overwhelmed, seek guidance immediately – don’t put it off.
- Correct bad sleep habits – Aim for 8 hours minimum each night – it’s vital.
- Nutrition can turn your life around – The right food gives you long-lasting energy and good health, so self-educate on how to ditch your worst eating habits.
- Surround yourself with people who lift you up – Positive, encouraging, honest friends and colleagues are one of your most valuable assets – so nurture them!
- Daily rituals matter – Start good habits NOW for sustainable success: gratitude journals, meditation and yoga, for example, can make a difference (consistency is the key).
- Exercise – Release some super-endorphins by getting up and moving: you’ll feel better, be more productive and live longer. Your health is your wealth, so own it.
- Do something you love – travel, write, swim, play chess – whatever fills your cup!
My life’s purpose and the thriving business I’ve created (Bullyology) – were built upon a foundation of pain and wisdom stemming from an intensely personal but ultimately resilience-building experience with workplace bullying.
Read more: How to Give Quality Feedback to Your Team
These days, I conduct evidence-based anti-bullying workshops, give keynote addresses and help business leaders and schools to build the healthy relationships that keep toxic behaviours at bay, avoid burnout and promote positive, productive cultures.
You can check out my latest podcasts on emotional well-being and anti-bullying at: https://bullyology.com/podcast/.