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7 things I do to keep myBurnout Immunity high

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Kandi Wiens

As I approached the publication date of Burnout Immunity, my system was revving up a little more each day. It was mostly good stress – the kind that I get excited about; the kind that puts me into my growth and learning zone; the kind that reminds me of the importance of my work.

It’s normal for anxiety to rise in the final lap before a big achievement. And if I actively manage that stress—as I’m doing my best to—I can mitigate its potential to go sideways.

There’s a well-known phenomenon in athletics called “teleoanticipation.” Even when our bodies are most exhausted, as we approach the end of a big effort, we push. If we know our own “sweet spot of stress” (SSOS) this exertion can be a good thing. It means we won’t give up (and we’re much more likely to achieve our goal).

And: it can be hard to gauge in the moment how much we’re really able to take on in that final stretch. We need to be wary of overexertion.

That’s why, as promised, I’m sharing this week the Seven Practices that kept this burnout expert from burning out as I neared the Burnout Immunity finish line:

I keep my eye on the ribbon, not the clock

As my goal got closer, I remind myself why I’m doing the work. What does this finish line really mean, and what lies beyond it? Publishing Burnout Immunity was about my mission to see global burnout levels plummet over the next three years. I know that can happen if more of us understand how to use our emotional intelligence and build resilience, and I’m committed to making this vision a reality.

I create the conditions I need to stay within my Sweet Spot of Stress

I took the last week off to build up my capacity for the final lap. Part of me wondered if it was self-indulgent, and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that voice! I hung out in Nashville with people I love. I hiked and exercised my little heart out. I got a massage. I caught up on my sleep. I said no to a big request that I normally would have said yes to. And, perhaps most importantly, instead of freaking out when my laptop crashed to the floor, I received it as a gift and let myself enjoy a few tech-free days.

I watch out for slippery terrain

When I felt myself slipping out of my SSOS, I told myself: “just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.” This or that extra commitment or activity might take me right over the edge. Maybe I could squeeze an extra two hours out of my day to write another article or get started on that next book proposal, but if I’ve barely spoken to my boys all week (and that was also bothering me), now was probably not the right time.

I phone my friends

Sometimes the easiest thing I forget to do is to phone a friend when I’m in need. Or to accept help from friends, family, or coworkers when it’s offered. I’ve been historically bad at this, so this one’s a work-in–progress for me. If you’re good at this, I applaud you! Tell me your secret sauce….

I engage (respectfully) with my “inner imp”

In the toughest times, we all tend to hear a little too much from our inner imp. In chapter 4 of Burnout Immunity, I describe this character in depth, but spoiler alert: it’s the “inner critic” that chatters away with negative self-talk in our minds.

My imp’s specialty is Imposter Syndrome—hard pass! But I’ve learned (from Dr. Kristen Neff and therapy) that launching a counter-attack only sends me on a stress spiral. Instead, I counter my imp’s untruths with some good old-fashioned straight talk: e.g. “My educational and professional track records speak for themselves. I’ve earned these opportunities. Thanks for trying to help. I can do this. Now leave me alone!”

I keep it all in perspective

The final push can be a stressful time because it can feel like all eyes are on you. The truth is that for me, it’s extremely nerve-wracking to be interviewed live, or to answer the same podcast questions again and again. But I have to remember: it’s a privilege to be in this position—to have the opportunity to share my message about eradicating burnout. So I stayed focused on that, rather than whatever other imperfections my imp might be reminding me of today.

I embrace the fun!

I’ve never loved working as much as I do right now (remember those good stress hormones?). This is mostly because, along with heightened anticipation as the goal drew near, I had fun working with some incredible people: Catherine Knepper, Medusa Media, Blackhawk DM, Fortier Public Relations, HarperCollins, Jasmine Barta, and Book Highlight to name a few.

Higher stakes aren’t bad—in fact, they are exhilarating—when you remember to practice self-compassion, self-care, and gratitude until the very end. I’m grateful to all of you for expressing your excitement to tackle burnout together.

– Kandi

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