EP: 167 How To Move Past Burnout And Reclaim Your Vitality With Sara Spencer

Brave Women at Work | Sara Spencer | Reclaim Your Vitality

Sometimes, our lives are like candles with flickering light, but at times, that spark goes out, and reigniting those flames can be difficult. Reclaiming vitality after burnout can be a journey, but it’s absolutely possible! In this episode, sharing her burnout story, Sara Spencer shares the details of her journey to reclaim her vitality. She delves into the warning symptoms of burnout and how the Burnout Cafe came about and what it does. Sara also shares the resources you use today to prevent and recover from burnout. Do not deprive yourself from this chance to move past burnout and reignite your spark because you deserve to reclaim your vitality and live a fulfilling life! So, why don’t you tune in to this episode and join Sara Spencer and Jennifer Pestikas today?

During my chat with Sara, we discussed:

Reclaiming Vitality

The details of Sara’s burnout story and what she needed to do to reclaim her mental, physical, and emotional health

The warning symptoms of burnout

The Burnout Café

How women continue to experience burnout in record numbers and lean out from their careers?

The resources you can use today to prevent and recover from burnout

Listen to the podcast here

How To Move Past Burnout And Reclaim Your Vitality With Sara Spencer

How are you doing out there? If you’ve read for a while, you all know that I have a soft spot for any woman or person that is on the brink or has gone through burnout. I found a kindred spirit in the world of talking about burnout in my guest, Sara Spencer, who is an Executive Leadership Coach. I loved my conversation with Sara and I know you will, too.

I have personally gone through burnout and let me tell you, it is not a fun experience. I’m not saying that lightly. It is not fun. It’s taken me a long time to peel back the layers to understand maybe what drove my burnout and how I need to or would like to heal my burnout. I’ve been honest about the journey and some of my health issues, the chronic health conditions that I’ve had since then, I’m still dealing with it.

It’s been a few years. I’m not trying to say that to be negative. I want it to be encouraging because one of my life’s missions is to help you. I know Sara wants to do the same. We want to help you prevent burnout. If you’re there, we want to help you navigate it. I refer to burnout in the show and in prior shows as the invisible wall because you’re driving your car, literally or mythical or metaphor of your car. You’re driving your life, your work, and everything in you into this invisible wall without even knowing it.

Think about that for a minute and can you relate? Are you moving so fast that you are literally driving into a potentially negative situation such as burnout? If you would like to know my personal story, we don’t cover it in this episode, but go back to episode seven. I looked back and I was like, “It’s episode seven.” That was such a long time ago. It’s been years now. This episode is 166. I have to say, I love the show. I loved going along the journey with all of you and they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” and this is just so fun. Thank you for being here.

During my chat with Sara, we discussed what reclaiming vitality means to her. In the show, Sara went into details of her own personal burnout story and what she needed to do to reclaim her mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The warning symptoms of burnout. We discussed Sara’s Burnout Café and what she is hoping to do with that community.

Brave Women at Work | Sara Spencer | Reclaim Your Vitality

We also touch on how women continue to experience burnout in record numbers, even post-COVID and they’re leaning out of their careers. With Sara and I both in that leadership executive coaching space, we take this seriously. We want all of you women to lean back in, feel energized, and reclaim our vitality. That’s what we’re here for. We touch on resources that you can use. In this episode, we gave you some great resources to prevent and recover from burnout.

Here’s a little bit more about Sara before we jump in. Sara Spencer is a Visionary Leadership Success Coach and energy enthusiast. Her transformative journey began after overcoming her own burnout and health challenges in 2016. This pivotal experience ignited her passion for helping leaders harness the power of their energy and mindset. With unique techniques and tools, she supports clients in building resilience and leadership skills, unlocking their full potential.

Sara has a passion for coaching success-focused corporate leaders and entrepreneurs who value growth and learning. She empowers her clients to thrive and find true balance, having an even greater impact. Her coaching instills authentic confidence, combats limiting beliefs, and amplifies presence. Leaders lean to listen to their bodies as stress barometers, adopting micro-habits and strategic tools to combat burnout.

With over two decades of experience in HR, executive coaching, and operations, including collaborations with global leaders and teams at Boeing, Microsoft, Ford, Amazon, and more, Sara’s wealth of knowledge and experience enhances her coaching practice. She divides her time between Hawaii and Seattle. She cherishes moments with loved ones, hiking, and swimming. Her passion for travel fuels her curiosity about new cultures, language, and local cuisine.

Before we get started, if you’re enjoying the show, please make sure to leave a rating and review in Apple Podcasts and Spotify. I would love to share one of the reviews on the app, “Super empowering. This is a show that every woman needs to read. I’ve learned so much helpful advice that I wish I heard back when I first started my career.” Thank you so much for that review. I would so appreciate anyone that would take a couple of minutes to do the same. Thank you.

Also, as a final reminder, I have one spot left for individual coaching. I help my clients with claiming their confidence, accelerating their leadership, and speaking up. If one of those areas is like, “That speaks to me. I need help with confidence. I want to get to a different position in leadership. I want to speak up. I want to negotiate or ask for what I want,” please visit my website at BraveWomanAtwork.com and schedule a 30-minute discovery call. On that call, we’ll decide if this is the right fit for you. Visit my website to learn more. Let’s welcome Sara to the show.

Sara, welcome to the show. How are you?

I’m good. How are you?

I am so good. I’m in the Chicago area. You’re going to tell me how Hawaii is. I’m jealous, by the way. Tell me the goodness. Tell me what’s going on in Hawaii.

Most of the time, it’s sunny and in the low 80s. It’s nice because it reminds me of Washington, where I spent a lot of time in Seattle.

What island do you spend your time on when you’re out in Hawaii? Where do you stay and hang out?

I’m on Oahu. I spent some time on the Big Island as well. I used to work for an organization where I needed to travel to multiple islands, so I feel like I know Hawaii pretty well, but most of the time, I’m in Oahu, where Honolulu is.

Maybe we’ll stay in touch and you’ll be like, “Jen, it’s 80. I’m sending the sunshine over there.”

Most of the time, I can send it your way.

That would be lovely. We’re talking about burnout. We’re talking about reclaiming vitality, which are topics near and dear to my heart. I have to tell you, when you and I met, I felt like a kinship with you. I was like, “She is someone that gets me and the work I do.” I just wanted to share that with you.

Thank you. I felt that as well. I feel like we’re going down similar, yet different paths. It’s cool to connect with you.

Why don’t we start by talking about your business, Reclaim Vitality Coaching? I wanted to start because I’ve heard these words, but I wanted to hear what they mean to you. What does reclaiming vitality mean to you?

Reclaiming vitality is about reigniting that inner spark that we all have. Sometimes, it goes dormant. We have that spark when we’re studying and identifying what we want to do when we grow up. It’s that core reason I feel like that drives our action and how we step into our careers and what we do. Often, we find ourselves feeling disconnected later from our true selves, especially during times of stress or change and when life is happening.

Reclaiming vitality is about reigniting that inner spark. Click To Tweet

In my case, it was about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, which was crucial for me, and I felt that spark. I had an experience with burnout myself and realized that I needed to change. After working with myself and with many clients in the last couple of years, I reconnected with the word reclaim and vitality. I created a method for people who are teetering on the edge of burnout or experiencing burnout because we can step so far away from that light or fire inside of us and forget our passions and why we’re truly doing the work we’re doing.

For me, it was having my own personal experience of going through burnout. It wasn’t like this a-ha of, “I need to connect.” It was like a journey to get there. From that, I created a program and I named it Reclaim Your Vitality for leaders, but it’s for life, both professionally and personally. It’s not like we check ourselves in at the door when we go to work. We bring our whole selves to everything that we do and reconnect with that inner passion and inner drive. I feel like it’s so critical to get the best from ourselves to feel fulfilled and purposeful in our work. That’s how I came up with the name Reclaim Vitality Coaching.

Let’s dive in a little bit. Let’s dig into your personal experience. Let’s get into the good stuff, Sara. If you’ve read for a while, you’ve read about my burnout story and I share this a lot. It’s my way of trying to understand burnout. Sara, if you don’t agree with this metaphor, feel free to disagree and give me your thoughts around it. For me, burnout was like the invisible wall. I was driving my car as fast as I could, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I hit it and the wall appeared. I was like, “This doesn’t work.”

Everything that I’ve been taught and everything I’ve been striving for, I’m like, “Wow.” It is a true sense of disillusionment and disconnection because a lot of people that you work with and I work with are probably great people. They’re great women and they are doing all the “right things,” and it doesn’t work. Why don’t you share your experience with burnout?

What you shared about yours reminds me of going on the hero’s journey and uncovering that shadow side of ourselves, like going on that journey that we don’t even know we’re about to embark on until we hit that wall. At first, when I agreed like, “Let’s have this conversation,” I was thinking about my own corporate experience because I was like, “From an early age, I liked to do it all.” That was part of my personality. Later on in life, I found myself juggling numerous demanding roles simultaneously. I was caregiving for an ailing parent. Professionally, I was managing a large team. I was developing an internal coaching program.

I also had some side things that I was doing. This intense multitasking, I always felt like an entrepreneur inside of a corporate experience. I was a bit of an entrepreneur, like creating new programs and taking those programs to other parts of the country. There was a lot of traveling and multitasking. I noticed I hit this fatigue and I was resorting to naps after work. My health even began to deteriorate. I was seeing some doctors and they were talking about self-care. I was like, “What does that mean?” It led to autoimmune issues.

Eventually, I was like, “I need to recalibrate my life because this isn’t working. I’m not getting that same fulfillment when my body and my spirit are exhausted. There was a lot of life happening, I like to say, and I was burnt out. My company was going through layoffs at the time, and I gladly took it. I knew that I needed it. I needed to recalibrate and make some changes. That’s when I started to find different ways like mindfulness practices slowly. I took in a few clients here and there but focus on getting my physical life back, my spiritual life and recalibrating mentally and emotionally. I started to feel good.

Brave Women at Work | Sara Spencer | Reclaim Your Vitality
Reclaim Your Vitality: I need to recalibrate my life because I’m not getting that same fulfillment when my body and spirit are exhausted.

What I share with some of my clients is once you get to burnout, it is challenging to come back from it. We want to step back and notice when it is happening, to slow down and heighten our self-awareness that when you’re driving and you hit that wall, that car is totaled. You’ve got to take the time to come back from that, but what if we could see those signs beforehand? What if we could put some checkpoints in for ourselves and make the self a priority?

What I find and what I found in the last couple of years of coaching, almost 100 women is that we don’t notice it until we’re there. That’s when I need to make myself a priority.What if we weren’t raised that way or we weren’t trained like, “We have to make ourself a priority?” It’s like learning a new skill. I love working with women who are open to learning about this because it can change your professional and personal lives by making the self a priority.

Also, as I was thinking about this conversation and I was reflecting on some of the questions that you had asked, I even went back deeper to my personal journey of burnout. I traced it even further back to childhood experiences. In coaching, we’re always talking about our professional life and moving forward, but sometimes we do go into the past. How do these habits and patterns begin for us?

Even for me, it started when my family moved across the country for my dad’s job when I was twelve years old. That took us away from our extended family. It took us away from that critical support system, that network was so important for my mother. I got to witness firsthand that importance of having a strong support network whether it be family, friends, a mastermind group of other women, or colleagues.

That transition took a toll on my mother’s health. She became ill and then we shouldered a lot of that burden. That period of time as well was like an a-ha for me as I was thinking about this. That significance of community and support, especially for women who are often juggling multiple roles, is as important as taking care of your physical self because that’s part of our emotional and mental well-being.

I have to share because you made me have an a-ha, so let’s go there. I was thinking about community and my own mother and what I saw from her. My mom was estranged from her family even before my parents were married. We did not have those networks and support systems. I saw my parents do everything on their own.

My dad got sick with cancer, which people who have read for a while know, and then he passed away. I saw my mom caregive for him until the end, almost entirely on her own. You talk about lacing up the bootstraps and doing it on your own, but it’s not healthy. You made me think. I love my mom. She’s a hero in my life, but how hard was it for her to try to do it all by herself without community?

We think about the ripple effect of putting the stone in the pond and how things can shift and change when we do one thing and how that one thing affected the family unit. That was my a-ha as well. My habit of doing it all wasn’t asking for help. It’s almost like this badge of honor that we get when we can do it all. How can we embrace that idea of support or create it? Maybe it’s not family. Maybe it’s friends, some type of mastermind group, or a different type of family network that could support and nourish.

I like to give my people things to think about. There was your first one. How can you build community around you to support you like you don’t have to go at all alone? It doesn’t have to be friends or family. It could be paid community. It can be unpaid community, but it doesn’t matter. Find the people that can help you.

Find the people who can help you. Click To Tweet

I’ve invested in my own coach over the years and that’s been very supportive as well. I like how you point out even paid community can be helpful when we’re going through challenges, change, transition or just starting to feel that tiredness. I feel like that’s the first indicator. You start to feel your energy change. You start to feel a little bit more exhausted and can push through it, but if you push through too long, I notice burnout can happen.

Besides that tiredness, were there any others? We’ve talked about this on the show, but I like talking about burnout because it’s like a cautionary tale. We’re both cautionary tales. I know you and I are both passionate about if we can prevent or help one woman not to go there, we’ve done our jobs. What are some of the things other symptoms that you either personally experienced or you’ve seen in your clients?

I personally experienced the exhaustion and the lack of desire to be excited by my work. I remember thinking like, “When is Friday coming?” I started to notice that and the wanting to check out, and then the physical symptoms started to occur. I went to the doctor. I was like, “What is going on?” “It’s an autoimmune. You need some support here.” I noticed I was stressed a lot. I was grinding my teeth. My hair was falling out.

I had physical symptoms that I was like, “This needs to change.” I feel like mine was prolonged. Some of my clients don’t get to that extent, but they usually come to me when they’re like, “I am noticing I’m getting passed up for promotions. I notice I’m exhausted and tired but doing so much.” There’s a disconnect between what they’re receiving and the work that they’re doing. It’s almost like they’re saying yes to a lot, but they don’t feel like they’re being recognized. They don’t feel like they’re getting that support.

We talked about the tiredness and exhaustion. Those are a few signs. They may have an illness. I have worked with some clients who have taken extended periods of time from work because they feel like that’s the only way. Unless they take a leave, they’re not going to get that balance. We also have to think about are we even in the right organization that’s going to support you. There are things you can do and also the reality of am I in the right place that I’m going to thrive in. Is this a culture that supports productivity and production as well as balance?

I want to pause for a second. I don’t want to say you were lucky enough. Maybe you had the fortune where you had the layoff. You had that choice. Do you think you would have tried to grin and bear it longer if you hadn’t had the layoff with the whole burnout situation? Have you ever played that out in your mind? What would that look like for you?

I have and I probably would have stayed. I thought about it and I was like, “I was so committed.” That came from my youth of doing it all, sticking it out and seeing things through. I look back and I had this incredible work ethic. I was a manager at sixteen in a supermarket. I progressed to the point where I was like, “I can do it all.” I was a manager by day in the meat department at a grocery store and I went to night school. I did that. I look back and I’m like, “I even did my MBA during night school.”

I feel like that was part of my personality. Looking back now, if I knew then what I know now, I would have transitioned. I would have changed a lot of things, but I would have transitioned out. With what I knew then, I think I would have stayed and would have committed. Who knows what would have happened? Who knows what would have happened with my health and my overall life happiness?

That’s where we have to ask ourselves. The beginning of the year is a great time. I love to do a year review and a look ahead. I do this with my clients and myself, like, “How did 2023 go for you? Did you feel the way you wanted to feel? Did you do the things you wanted? Are you satisfied with the results?” We look at each month, and then without any judgment, how did it go? What do we want moving forward? Maybe there’s more self-compassion, balance, and also productivity. What do we want to see so that we are energized, thriving, and reclaiming our whole selves? I do like to do that practice. Going back to your question, I probably would have stayed. I would have had another probably different breaking point.

Maybe there's more self-compassion, balance, and productivity as we move forward in 2024. Click To Tweet

I appreciate you being honest because a lot of women will stay because it’s the pattern. One of the things that I’ve learned and I believe I don’t know, but I think you know when you know, is like experiencing repeated burnout. You said it may have gotten to another lower point until the breaking point.

The scary thing is what’s the breaking point? I’m happy for you that you got out and you’re in a better place now. All told, on the burnout side, I’ve told people since my burnout, I don’t think I’ve ever entirely, not to say negative, but never been the same. I’m still dealing with some lingering health stuff. Do you think that you are fully healed or not really?

It was interesting when I did my year review and my look ahead. It’s been a few years and I was reflecting on myself and I feel so energized now. I have some challenges where I need to watch certain things and my sleep patterns. I need to have certain physical activity. I’ve got some habits and patterns in place that are supportive, but I feel extremely energized now in my life.

I’m glad that I went through that process. I’ll call it my burnout chapter because I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now. I do think that age as well plays a part and female hormones. Our bodies are changing. It’s being able to track that as well. Life changes too and we get to change with it, but I am feeling pretty energized. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 % because years have passed since I hit burnout.

Still, I’ll take energized. I like that word. I like energized.

We work a lot on energy and it’s not like that woo-woo energy. It’s yes, and. I like to work with my clients on how they are you feeling, noticing your energy during the day or during the week and looking at energy leaks. Energy leaks could come from certain conversations or projects. That’s the nice thing about having these conversations. Even reading this conversation is like being able to heighten our self-awareness around how we are tracking during the day. How are we feeling?

Speaking about that, I want to give everybody a tool. I downloaded this. It is a paid app. I do not get paid for it, but I find it interesting. It’s been an experiment for me. You talked about sleep management. I’m trying this app. It’s called Rise Sleep. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. Have you heard of it?

Yes, I have. A good friend of mine uses Rise.

I’m trying it. Disclaimer, I’m a newbie at this, but I’m hoping that it helps. I’m that achiever. It’ll be like, “Your sleep deficit is,” and I’m like, “I don’t want a sleep deficit.” It’s like a good motivation for me to get my sleep and to get to bed and not try to push it beyond. For me, my ultimate sleep is at 10:00 to 10:30. I need to be in bed. If I’m still working or doing something and it’s 11:00, I don’t feel good. That’s a little tip for everybody. Go check out Rise Sleep. I think there’s a free trial, so you can check it out.

That’s great for heightening your self-awareness of certain things. That would be part of the personal self-care activities like how are you tracking? What are you doing to get into bed and to stay asleep? What could support you? As you use this tool, I’m sure you’ll probably notice some things that support you in getting more of a restful sleep or maybe on certain days, you’re more rested. It’s a great tool.

A tool for everybody. I want to talk about your tools. I love the name of it. It’s Burnout Café. Who doesn’t like going to a café? I looked at your branding around it and you sent me the webinar recording. It feels cozy. Tell us about where that came from Burnout Café and what it’s all about.

It’s interesting you brought up the Rise app. My friend who uses Rise was like, “Sara, that sounds like Burnout Café.” I was like, “I love that name,” because I love going to the café with my girlfriends. I love going to the café, getting some work done, and being out. That’s where the name came from. I wanted to bring some lightness to it because it’s such a serious topic. Let’s come to the café and let’s talk about it.

Let’s talk about maybe strategies to navigate burnout strategies to flourish in our lives. That was the reason why I wanted to create the webinar. Also, eventually, my vision is to have a place where women can come and share their experiences and stories because we’re not alone in this experience of burnout. It may lool like that.

Especially in the professional corporate space, it’s not like we want to be sharing with people, especially when we want to elevate our career, that we’re going through this. That was one of the reasons around. It was to create that collective community where we could talk about these topics that are reality, but maybe we don’t want to shine a light to everyone that we’re going through them or we’re experiencing them.

This is totally impromptu. I know your business is Reclaimed Vitality Coaching, but who knows? Maybe it’ll be a future podcast name because it’s fun.

I’ve been thinking about that.

It’s something to think about. Maybe, everybody, you’ll see Burnout Café in more places. I don’t know. We’ll see. I’ll be following. I’ll be excited about it. One of the things, when we were prepping for the show, through your own reading, you mentioned, and I also looked myself, is that we’re still women. We’re still continuing to burn out and lean out of our careers even after the pandemic.

I’ve heard it was a collective trauma for everyone. I don’t want to ignore our men out there, but women did have a big brunt. I know that the care industry is so reeling. People don’t get paid. There are a lot of things going into this, but what do you think? Why aren’t women leaning back in? It’s interesting. Some articles that I did some research are like, “Things are getting back to normal,” but a lot of them are like, “No, they’re not.” What do you think about what’s driving this?

I feel like during COVID, it’s almost like it highlighted everything that was already not working. It turned up the heat on burnout. What I saw is women and men juggling lots of different roles, the care of family, kids, parents, and work. I know my work got turned up. It went from a regular work week to 60 or 70 hours. It was intense.

I know for some folks, it was a lot of sitting. A lot of trying to figure out new plans to make it through that time. I think people were challenged and exhausted and taking on more and then having to manage hybrid or fully virtual environments when they’re used to going into the office and being able to see, especially those in managerial roles. They needed to learn new skills. How do you manage in a hybrid environment? How do you create structures of accountability and be giving feedback more consistently?

These are some of the things that I worked on with clients because they weren’t always managing that space in that certain way. Now that it moved on to that hybrid environment, just the amount of support. I know men. I don’t want to take away because I do have a lot of male clients as well but this last couple of years, I worked with so many women and many didn’t feel that same level of support and having to care for things with the family. The work-life balance got out of whack.

We did see an exodus of women leaving at entry-level positions all the way up to C-suite and taking time for themselves. I don’t know if they were burning out and that’s their specific reasons, however burnout was elevated during that time, from the research that we saw, it takes time to recover from burnout. I feel like even though COVID was years ago, we’re still experiencing the effects of it. You mentioned trauma and probably, there are a lot of people are considering, like, “What do I want my work experience to be like?”

Not to get us too far off on a tangent, but I’m seeing this. It’s so interesting, this push. I’m still in corporate. I know you’re out of corporate, but there’s a really interesting piece to say there’s this push. It’s almost like the Industrial Revolution is like, “We’re going back in. We’re going to 8:00 to 5:00 or 8:00 to 6:00. You’re going to be in an office, darn it,” and that’s what’s happening. There are so many companies that are pushing in that direction, which is so interesting because it’s like, have we not learned that does not work? What are your thoughts around that?

It’s interesting. It’s almost like the rubber band is coming back. We stretched it and now it’s coming back. My thoughts on that is it’s a new way to manage completely virtual teams and not every organization is used to it. We have to think about organizational readiness. Even though we had the COVID experience, we went to virtual and hybrid, I feel like more of those companies that are used to seeing employees or maybe their management style is like they have a certain culture are pulling back and asking employees to come back.

It is interesting because people are also leaving because they want that virtual or hybrid experience or they’ve already moved out of the city and are like, “I can’t go back.” I do think there’s a level of trust that you need to have to manage a virtual and hybrid team. There’s an ability to provide that accountability structure and to work with teams in a different way when they’re in that hybrid environment versus in person. Depending on that organization, they are pulling back, so it is interesting.

I think we’re going to find a happy medium. At least, my hope is that we will find it. I’m pro-hybrid. I think it’s healthy. There are times to be in the office and be out of the office. I don’t think you have to be all in or all out. If you want to be all out, and if that makes sense, then wonderful. As a leader in an organization, I find it difficult, but I’m old school, so I need to see my people. I need to say, “How are you,” eyeball to eyeball, in person. That’s why I’m pro-hybrid, but that doesn’t mean that I’m right. I’m hoping we get to that middle ground eventually.

We did talk about building community at the beginning. It’s a different community experience online versus in person.

One thing that’s popping up for me, I’m curious about your thought on this. Lots of people talk about burnout. I’ve had several episodes on burnout. I’ve experienced it and you’ve experienced it. Maybe it’s because we’re all normalizing it. Maybe our mothers, grandmothers, and the lineage had burnout too but they never talked about it.What do you say when someone says, “You haven’t really burnt out,” or, “That’s the in vogue thing to say, because so many people are talking about burnout?” Some people are maybe gaslighting us to be like, “Yeah, right.” There’s so much talk about it. It’s like now, everybody is burning out.     

Have some empathy. Put yourself in that other person’s shoes. To be told, “You are not burning out,” would be extremely difficult, and then, “I’m going to pull up my bootstraps and keep on going.” That can lead to turnover or people leaning out of their role in their career or stepping down.

Maybe the quiet quit. Maybe there was some quiet quit in there. I’m just curious if that may happen because burnout is a conversation that has become so pervasive that employers or family members or friends are like, “It’s the buzzword. I know everybody’s burning out. Are you really burning out?” I wanted to share that because I want you to have a safe place with us if you feel like you are.

I think the US medical system just started recognizing it. I know Europe has recognized it a long time before, but there wasn’t even a medical reason diagnosis. I like that going back to the top saying, “Listen to your energy.” It’s important to you that you do that. Talk to your medical doctor. We’re not doctors here, but make sure that you listen to your body and how you’re feeling.

The medical field talks so much now about stress and stress-induced diseases. If we think about where does that stress even begin? It’s a dance, stress and burnout, stress and exhaustion and that extension of it when it’s continuous and you don’t have that opportunity to pull back from it. It is good to notice because organizations talk a lot about work-life balance. What is that? Tell me what that looks like for you. Tell me what those behaviors are for you. What’s the executive team modeling when they talk about work-life balance?

I do think it’s a good opportunity to get curious for yourself. Maybe it’s not sharing at work, “I’m experiencing burnout,” but sit down and think through a plan like, “What’s one thing this month that I could do that would bring me energy or some more joy in my life?” It’s hard to hold two feelings at once. We can’t be angry and grateful. When we think about burnout, let’s look at state management. How are you feeling during the day or throughout the day? What are you saying to yourself?

State management is what you are saying to yourself and how do you feel about your experience in life? When we look at both of those, we can heighten our awareness. We can see some patterns and behaviors of how we talk to ourselves and what we feel. Starting with one small tool to support is what is the state you want to be and what are the things you’d like to say to yourself? This is the first step to looking at burnout and stress in a different way.

It’s something small. I agree with you. It is pervasive. It is a hot topic now and maybe because of that, it’s just going to be like, “Let’s just find work-life balance.” We need real behaviors, structures, and new patterns for our lives so that we can maybe stay. I want to stay in my organization. I want to get promoted. Guess what? You can, but there are some habits and patterns that we need to look at that may need to change.

I like that’s another tool. I’m calling it out, state management, which I’ve never heard of before. It’s, as you said, going back to basics like how do I want to feel? How does my body feel like literally tapping in, correct? What are some other ways? Are there any other pieces of advice or tips for energy management so that we’re managing those reserves? Especially at the start of the year.

Isn’t it funny, whether it’s true or not, everyone’s like, “All right,” at the beginning of the year. It’s almost like if you’ve gone to the gym. The gym rats that are there all the time. They keep on rolling. They don’t care, but after February 15th, most people that are in the resolutions are like, “Whatever.” They abandon it because the energy flails or their commitment flails. How can we keep our energy high throughout the year?

My recommendation is pick one. Start with one thing and make it a habit or a micro habit. Something that you do occasionally. If it becomes a habit, that would be even better, but start with one, then you can add more. I’ve been thinking a lot about self-esteem and self-compassion. One would be being kind and understanding toward yourself as you’re going through burnout, especially if there’s a perceived failure or if you feel like you’ve got this big challenge in life.

Be kind and understanding towards yourself as you're going through burnout. Click To Tweet

Maintain that conversation with yourself like you would with a best friend going through something challenging and celebrating small wins. At the end of the week, do you have time set aside where you can look at what did I do well? Celebrate small achievements that are going to support in building self-esteem and confidence. That sense of accomplishment is essential for resilience, engagement, and learning something.

Maybe there’s a skill that you want to learn. Maybe taking some time so that you could read on something that interests you. We talked about having that support network. One of the things I set for the year is having a community of like-minded women that are entrepreneurial that are going through this process that I am. What is the network that you want? Maybe you’ve got it or you want to bring new folks in or maybe you want to check in more with them.

Think about your cheerleaders. We talked about state management having that growth mindset and noticing your feelings. One tool that I use with coaching is reframing. How can we reframe a situation and a challenge? Maybe we don’t know what it is yet, but what is the gift and opportunity in the challenge? Maybe it’s reflecting on it later, but maybe you could do it in the moment.

Think about your mind as your operating system. I know we talked about this last time we chatted, but what type of thoughts do you want to have? How could you reframe them if they’re more on the negative side? There’s also a book I love. I don’t get paid for recommending it, either. How Women Rise. It talks about the twelve habits that women will do more often than men and my male clients will be like, “I do that, too.” It’s just statistically more often than men, and one of them is rumination, so it allows our mind to continue to go deep on something.

Maybe we didn’t do it well and we replay it over and over. What type of mindfulness practice can you put into place so that doesn’t happen? If we can put that to bed, reframe it, learn from it, take away the gift and opportunity from it and apply it in the future, but we don’t need to ruminate on it. That’s one thing. Only a few things. In my Burnout Café webinar, I go through other tips like healthy boundaries, self-care practices, delegation, giving feedback and looking at your life as a whole. You have your professional life, but as I said, we take our whole self to work. We want to be whole, integrated and thriving.

Just as the How Women Rise, it’s called Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job, which we’ve talked a lot about. Sally Helgesen, who also wrote this with Marshall Goldsmith, has been on the show. If anybody wants to go back and read to Sally, we touched on her newer book. She’s like a pioneer in women’s leadership and authorship. Go check out that show as well. What would you say are the 1 to 2 ways women can be braver at work?

Brave Women at Work | Sara Spencer | Reclaim Your Vitality
How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job

I think ideally, mastering or learning more about state management, so what is the emotional state? What are the feelings that I want to experience managing your mindset? Mindset and emotions and then practicing that. Maybe you’ve got a challenging meeting, what could you tell yourself before going into the meeting? What mindfulness practice would support you? I know it’s so simple, yet by doing it and putting it into practice, you are changing the way you think about things.

You’re changing your state. If we think about mirror neurons, we’re also changing the way people relate to us. We probably want to remain composed, relaxed, and confident under pressure. Some of those tools can support them. Also, it fosters more self-compassion, and I think I mentioned honoring our achievements. What’s the internal dialogue? Speak to yourself like you would a best friend.

I love that one because you wouldn’t trash-talk your best friend. You would be nice to your best friend. One of my friends and I were talking and she says that her preteen daughter is the living embodiment of her inner critic. I’m thinking about my daughter. I’m like, “It’s right on.” Isn’t that interesting? It’s a reflection of you. Your children are no mirror reflection, but there are points of reflection. Let’s all talk to each other as we would talk to our best friends and not from our preteen daughters to us. How can women find you and your work online?

You can find my website online and I have a lot of resources there. I haven’t changed the URL yet, but it’s Sara Spencer Coaching. Also, you can email me, Sara@SaraSpencerCoaching.com. I have a few spots open for coaching, so I’d love to offer your readers a clarity call. It’s a complimentary clarity call. They can look at their goals for the year. I also put a lot of articles out on LinkedIn, so you can find me on LinkedIn or Facebook and Instagram.

Sara, thank you so much. I’ve so appreciated our connection and I look forward to building our relationship in the future.

Thanks, Jen. This was great and I look forward to talking to you soon.

That does it for my discussion with Sara. I hope you found our conversation both valuable and inspiring. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on any other platform you enjoy. Until next time, show up, reclaim your vitality, and be brave.

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About Sara Spencer

Brave Women at Work | Sara Spencer | Reclaim Your VitalitySara Spencer is a visionary leadership success coach and energy enthusiast. Her transformative journey began after overcoming her own burnout and health challenges in 2016. This pivotal experience ignited her passion for helping leaders harness the power of their energy and mindset. With unique techniques and tools, she supports clients in building resilience and leadership skills, unlocking their full potential.

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