5 books to help you overcome burnout at work by creating a more balanced lifestyle

paula davis

The Great American Burnout rages on.

In May an Insider survey revealed that more than 61% of 1,000 respondents felt at least somewhat burned out, with most reporting that the months spent working from home during the pandemic only added to their stress.

The line between logging off and sending "just one more email" is becoming increasingly blurred. Some managers are taking notice and encouraging their employees to take their paid time off or instituting Zoom-free Fridays. Other employers are solving the problem by examining their cultures on a deeper level.

Burnout is undoubtedly an issue that companies need to address, but there are still ways to cultivate a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Insider has compiled a list of five books to help anyone overcome burnout at work — and to help managers build work environments where employees can thrive.

"Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle" by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

The authors of "Burnout" might seem an unlikely pair to tackle the issue — they’re twin sisters who work as a sex educator and a professor of music. But each has her own reason for being personally invested in the topic. Amelia Nagoski wrote a book about women’s sexuality and found that the chapter on managing stress was by far the most popular. Emily Nagoski wound up in the hospital twice with stress-induced symptoms that she ignored for too long.

Burnout, the authors argue, is a problem that disproportionately affects women and that too many women feel is either their fault or something to just accept. They take an all-encompassing look at both the systemic causes of burnout among women and the best ways to challenge the influence of those forces.

One such cause is what they call "human giver syndrome," or the expectation that women should be in constant service to others, which many women have internalized to the point of drowning out their individual needs. The book returns to the importance of processing stress — "completing the cycle," or going through the emotional "tunnel," as they put it.

It’s an empowering and enlightening read that will shake you loose from some of your long-held assumptions about the world around you and your place in it.

Get it here.

"The Burnout Fix: Overcome Overwhelm, Beat Busy, and Sustain Success in the New World of Work" by Jacinta M. Jiménez

"The Burnout Fix" breaks burnout into seven chapters that help readers rethink how they prioritize their work and life.

Jacinta Jiménez is an award-winning psychologist and leadership-development expert who mixes science-based strategies with lessons learned from coaching and research.

Tying in her own experience trying to balance family illness and writing her dissertation, Jiménez uses the metaphor of a physical pulse to draw the reader into what she calls "personal pulse practices." While we think hard work and smart work are the two components that create success, Jiménez introduces these personal pulse practices as the unsung third ingredient to "sustainable" success — pacing yourself and your goals to prevent burnout. 

Get it here.

"Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience" by Paula Davis

Paula Davis used to be a corporate lawyer — until she was hospitalized for stress-induced illness. The experience inspired her to study positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she helped members of the US Army develop their resilience, and ultimately to start her own consultancy.

"Beating Burnout at Work" is a guide to how Davis thinks about helping companies redesign their work environments to minimize stress and promote resilience. It’s predicated on the PRIMED model, which stands for psychological safety and needs, relationships, impact, mental strength, energy, and design. Davis looks at teams as the place to start tackling causes of burnout.

The book is full of wisdom and insight, including case studies like how the Mayo Clinic reduced physician burnout. And Davis reminds readers that even the most highly engaged performers are at risk of burnout if they don’t get the right support.

The book couldn’t be more relevant, amid rising rates of burnout across industries. Every manager and exec should pick it up to see what changes they can make today to cultivate a more positive work culture.

Get it here.

"Burnt Out: The exhausted person’s six-step guide to thriving in a fast-paced world" by Selina Barker

Selina Barker approaches burnout from the perspective of someone who never wanted the normal nine-to-five job.

"Burnt Out" is a no-nonsense guide for the burned out. Barker dives into the ways modern life has intensified feelings of burnout and helps readers consider where their burnout comes from. In the digital age, Barker believes burnout has become even more intense because people can never step away from work.

Additionally, Barker addresses causes of burnout that often go overlooked, including the idea of generational trauma. Barker notes that generational trauma can make people feel guilty about success and that people need to believe they deserve fulfillment before they can experience it. 

Through catchy and quirky recommendations, such as listening to your "inner wise cheerleader," Barker makes conquering burnout seem tangible and manageable.

Get it here.

"The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It" by Jennifer Moss

Jennifer Moss — a journalist, author, and speaker — uses the 250-some pages in "The Burnout Epidemic" to dispel myths about burnout and replace them with empirical truths. Through interviews with executives and workplace scholars, she delivers insights like why agency and autonomy are linked to lower levels of burnout and why pingpong tables don’t automatically improve workplace culture.

The first part of the book introduces what Moss labels the six root causes of burnout: overwork, perceived lack of control, lack of reward and recognition, poor relationships, lack of fairness, and values mismatch. Moss elegantly unpacks each one, using examples that will sound all too familiar to anyone who’s been employed in 21st century corporate America (like the wrong employees getting recognized over and over again for their work).

Moss also explains how the COVID-19 pandemic increased rates of burnout and how leaders can build work environments where people with different needs, lifestyles, and personality types can thrive. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone tasked with managing people today — or anyone with a vested interest in seeing their colleagues thrive.

Get it here.

Rachel DuRose and Shana Lebowitz August 19, 2021 at 04:54PM

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