You don’t have to end the year in burnout…

Tash Pieterse
6 min readNov 5, 2020

2020 is a year like no other, we’ve been thrown so much that we in no way prepared for and many of us felt (definitely me included) a range of emotions that are likely still lingering.

I’ve heard countless times over the last few months how tired people are feeling and how they are hanging out for a break at Christmas time (I’ve mumbled these words to Kyle, not gonna lie). Same for you?

There’s no doubt that fatigue and exhaustion have probably crept up on you once or twice or it’s been consistently bubbling under the surface since about March. Unfortunately, if you keep pushing the limit and grinding to get more done, you’re doing yourself and those around you more harm than good.

Some of the things that happen when we hit the ‘Dig Deep Button’ (Brene Brown’s reference to the button we press when we have nothing left, yet keep pushing anyway) are:

  • Interrupted and restless sleep
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Digestion and bowel movement issues
  • Low immune system function
  • Low productivity, focus, and efficiency
  • Heightened irritability and anger
  • Emotional reactivity

Often these things don’t present themselves straight away or when you’ve only started pushing the dig deep button. Sometimes they do, but you’re too busy with all the doing, that you don’t notice. You drink more coffee to negate the lack of sleep, work longer hours to produce more, avoid situations to minimise emotional reactivity (yup, I’ve done all of these… 🙋🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️)

None of which is healthy or sustainable long term, also none of which is justified by thinking “there’s only 6 weeks to go then I’m on holiday, I just gotta get through.”

It might feel like you’re doing the right thing, for others maybe, what about for yourself? Your health? Your output?

The thing is when you push to the point of burnout in the last 6 weeks of the year (any year, not only 2020) and finally go on holiday — your body gets a shock and usually has it’s own little panic attack — cue getting sick as you start slowing down. Ahhhh the annoyance of the body, eh. All it wants to do is provide for you, no matter the circumstances, until it can’t anymore… final destination… burnout.

Something Dr Libby said at a seminar I went to last year was “Your body responds to the information you give it.”

Whether that’s food, feelings, thoughts, content, expectations, etc. Your body will only ever respond to what you’re doing to it or asking it to do for you.

Reflection prompt…

  • What information are you giving your body right now?
  • How are you feeling?
  • What signs are showing up that’s asking you to pay attention to?

I’m sharing this because in 2018 I hit burnout and the rash that broke out all over my body was the FINAL sign my body created so I could pay attention 😳… there were plenty before that. Then in June 2020, I hit burnout again — this time no amount of sleep seemed to refresh me *sigh* 😩

Yes, I teach these tips and in my humanness, I am still practicing and learning them daily. So I continue sharing them, for you as much as for me #thehumaninus

I’m sharing not to create shame or guilt, purely to create awareness. Change can only come from awareness. Change can only come when we notice what’s not working so we can rejig and go a different way.

Tash, I’m hearing what you’re saying and I know something needs to change, but what can I start with? How can I start avoiding burnout now, so it doesn’t cripple me day by day?

I got ya!

Here are the 5 things that popped into my mind when I thought about writing this for you.

1 — Accept that you can’t do it all
If this prompts anxiety… it’s likely a message that’s needed. There is so much going on, so much coming up and the to-do list will never ever end. It’s impossible to do it all. However, you can do what you can do and do it to your best.

If you’re trying to do it all, ask yourself “Who am I really doing this for?”

2 — Create your PRIORITY and focus on it. Then move to the next
My friend Ash, a Communication Coach voice noted me the other day and said that the word ‘priorities’ is actually incorrect and that the word is defined as a singular, meaning “the first or prior thing”.

Our brains can only focus on ONE thing at a time, which means, we can and need to have only ONE priority at a time. Once it’s done, the next thing can become a priority.

Your to-do list is not your priorities, only ONE thing on the list can be your priority right now. Which one is it?

I like this blog that talks about it. He shares that it’s not being pedantic, our language matters and the more intentional we can get with the language we use, the more intentional our life becomes.

3 — Practice saying ‘No’
The word we love to avoid, yet need the most in our lives at the moment. In my last Monday Top Up (newsletter) I shared how you can say no, even when it’s hard. You can read it here.

Saying No isn’t rude, selfish or mean — it is respectful for BOTH parties and helps to ensure that what you DO say Yes to, are things that you can give your best to.

Ryan Holiday says “We think “yes” will let us accomplish more when in reality it prevents exactly what we seek.”

Saying No to the wrong things, and Yes to the right, will set you free.
NB: Right and wrong is relative to the person, so make sure it’s what YOU define.

4 — Do more of what gives you energy
Check-in and ask yourself what fills you with energy and what drains you, then how much time are you spending on the drainers?

A lot of people tell me they don’t have time to do more of what helps them feel good, honestly, it’s because they are spending a heck of a lot of time on things that drain them. Get clear and start making changes.

Do more moving, resting, reading, writing, playing. Whatever it is for you, do it more. Even 5mins more a day!

5 — COMMUNICATE
None of the above will happen unless it’s underpinned by clear and open communication. I wrote a blog post this week on ‘How to have the conversations you love to avoid’, which shares my go-to process for communicating what’s really important to us and to ask for what we need.

If you don’t communicate, people won’t know what the boundary or expectation is and people are far more likely to overstep a line they didn’t even know existed.

Tash Pieterse is a certified coach helping busy ambitious professionals who feel paralysed, tired and stuck in their life. They instead want to be in control so they have the time and energy to focus on what’s important to them and feel inspired. With a 10 year background in HR she’s seen it all and brings her knowledge, understanding and tools to all of her coaching. To find out more about Tash head to www.tashpieterse.com or reach out for a free clarity call to learn more about working together.

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Tash Pieterse
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Tash Pieterse is an Internationally Certified Life & Mindset Coach helping busy ambitious professionals have success without the stress.