7 Strategies for Black Women Leaders to Beat Burnout
March 21, 2023
Burnout is a serious condition that can affect anyone, but it’s especially relevant for Black women. The symptoms include exhaustion, cynicism, and hopelessness.
Burnout is defined as “a state of physical or mental exhaustion caused by overwork or stress.” It’s also known as “burned out” or “burnt out.” Burnout often occurs when you feel like you’ve lost control over your life and work environment–or when you’re unable to cope with stressors at work because of lack of support from supervisors and colleagues.
Identifying the Signs of Burnout
Burnout can be identified by physical and emotional symptoms. These include:
- Feelings of exhaustion, fatigue, and low energy
- Loss of interest in work or activities you once enjoyed
- Increased irritability or frustration with others at work (including your boss)
If you’re experiencing these signs, it’s important to take action immediately. If you wait too long, it could have serious consequences on both your health and career trajectory.
Making Time for Self-Care to Prevent Burnout
- Schedule regular breaks.
- Prioritize restful activities, such as reading or meditating, that help you recharge and refresh your mind and body.
- Take time for yourself!
Creating a Supportive Network
Creating a support system is one of the best things you can do to prevent burnout. A supportive network includes family, friends and colleagues who are willing to listen when you need it most. If your job doesn’t allow for much socializing outside of work hours, consider joining an organization that shares similar interests as yours (e.g., Toastmasters).
This can help build relationships with other professionals who are also looking for ways to expand their horizons, whether it’s through volunteering or taking classes together!
Another way to create a strong team is by talking with mentors or coaches who have been in similar situations before–they’ll be able to share valuable advice on how they overcame obstacles while working towards achieving their goals along with providing insight into what could happen next if things don’t go according your plan (which will help prepare yourself mentally).
Finding Balance in Your Work-Life
- Setting boundaries
- Recognizing when it’s time to take a break
- Delegating tasks
Prioritizing Your Mental Health to Avoid Burnout
If you’re a black woman leader, it’s important to prioritize your mental health. The first step in doing this is recognizing the importance of self-care and seeking professional help when needed.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by work or life, consider taking some time off from work (if possible) or reducing your hours temporarily until you feel better. Even if this isn’t something that works for your situation right now, there are other ways to take care of yourself:
- Make sure that sleep is a priority by going to bed early enough each night so that when morning comes around again, you feel rested and ready for whatever may come next on your agenda.
- If possible, try setting aside an hour before bedtime each night where no electronics are allowed so that even though everyone else might still be awake at 11 p.,m., at least one person in the house has already been tucked away safely under their covers!
Managing Stress and Anxiety
*Practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice of being present in the moment and focusing on what’s happening around you, rather than thinking about the past or future. You can practice mindfulness by taking time out of your day to do something that brings you joy (such as listening to music), or simply by sitting quietly for five minutes with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing–inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
*Journaling about stressors and goals helps people deal with anxiety better because it gives them an outlet for their emotions, which helps reduce stress levels over time.
*Exercising regularly has been shown to lower cortisol levels (the hormone produced by stress), improve sleep quality, improve moods overall.
*Creating healthy habits like eating well-balanced meals throughout the day will help keep energy levels high so that burnout doesn’t set in as easily
Learning to Say No to Steer Clear of Burnout
Learning to say no is a crucial skill for black women leaders. Many of us have been conditioned to be “people pleasers” and are afraid of rejection, so we take on more than we can handle. This can lead to burnout and exhaustion because you’re not giving yourself time away from work or other responsibilities that require your attention.
As a leader, it’s important for you to set realistic expectations for yourself based on what is actually possible in the time frame given–and then stick with those expectations! If someone asks you for something outside of those parameters (like working late), ask yourself if this task is really necessary at this point in time or if there might be another way they could get what they need done without asking so much from you personally?
If it turns out there isn’t another way around this request then consider saying no politely but firmly: “I’m sorry but I am unable to help out with this project right now due my own commitments.”
Finding Meaning in Your Work
The first step in overcoming burnout is to find meaning in your work. You can do this by connecting with your purpose, recognizing the impact of your work, and appreciating the journey.
- Connecting with your purpose: Before you can begin to appreciate what you’re doing, it’s important that you understand why it matters. Ask yourself: Why am I here? What do I want my life and career to look like five years from now? What are my values? How does this job align with those things or not at all? This exercise may require some soul-searching–but if done well, it will help guide future decisions about where to go next professionally (and personally).
- Recognizing impact: It’s easy for us as humans not only forget about ourselves but also lose sight of others around us who depend on our success for theirs too! So, take time every day (even if just 30 minutes) where possible reflect on how far along this road has brought us; remember those who helped get us here; celebrate victories big or small!
You’ve read the strategies and you’re ready to put them into action. Here’s what you need to know:
- Self-care is key. You can’t be your best self if you’re not taking care of yourself. So make sure that self-care is a priority in your life. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Take a bubble bath. Go for a walk-in nature. All of which can be just as effective at de-stressing as going on vacation or buying yourself something special.
- Resilience is also important because it helps us bounce back from setbacks and keep going even when things get tough. Think about how many times in your life that someone has told an inspirational story about how they overcame adversity. Chances are good that story involved resilience!
Please connect with my 👉🏾 social media.
xoxox Twanna Carter, PhD, PCC
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES**
- “I’m Not Yelling: A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Workplace (Successful Black Business Women)“, Elizabeth Leiba.
- “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.
- “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini.
- “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
- “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg.
- “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” by Robert I. Sutton.
- “The Memo“, by Minda Harts.
- “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.