I’ve just returned from a week’s retreat on the island of Iona, staying in the Abbey and living in community with other guests. There was a spiritual component to it, and I spent a lot of time looking out to sea, just being quiet. I felt I gained perspective on our business and the progress we have made, but the other thing I felt the need to make sense of was the effect that the pandemic and lockdown have had on me.
I realised that when the pandemic struck, I went into something of a panic, especially about our business. Being in the business of running executive retreats we are primarily a face-to-face business and there was little face-to-face last year. The rush for many businesses was to pivot (how often did we hear that word?) online, which we tried, but had we stood back, probably common sense would have told us that it wouldn’t work, which is where we got to at the beginning of 2021 when we decided to sit tight and wait for the hotels to open.
What I realised last week was that I hadn’t stopped panicking deep down and it had taken its toll. I was mentally exhausted and feeling waves of depression. I know I am not alone. It’s not as though we can see a way out of the difficulties and uncertainties of the pandemic. We thought vaccinations would liberate us and then along came another variant. Each stage brings with it another set of regulations to get used to, school children in bubbles, whether to get the staff back to the office or not.
What we’re all recognising now is that this is burnout caused by endless uncertainty, pressure and lack of control. One of the feelings I had last week was that I didn’t have the right to have burnout: we were safe and healthy, we had food on the table, could talk to family and friends and had each other as companions. Many business owners report that their businesses are doing well, certainly better than expected and staff have stayed engaged.
It’s hard to admit to burnout perhaps because there seem to be so many other people who are worse off, we think it’s not a real illness and probably possible to tough it out if ignored. But left untreated, burnout can cause people to become depressed, anxious, and distracted, which can impact not only our work relationships, but our personal interactions.
What might your burnout be doing to your business, your family or your friends? Wouldn’t it be great if you could find something that would help you over this and let you enjoy your life again?
The good news is that once identified, burnout can be reversed through taking some time to work on yourself. Take a moment to regain some perspective, learning to say ‘no’ in a constructive way, taking breaks and managing expectations are all ways you can help yourself. Finding your own purpose and understanding your values are also core ways to gaining that perspective and focus.
If you’d like the chance to renew and regenerate as I did on my retreat, we’d like to invite you to our next retreat starting 13th – 15th September. If you’re not sure how they work, let’s have a quick chat.