Avoiding burnout

Best-selling author and behavioural skills specialist Liggy Webb has some sage advice on avoiding the black hole of burnout

‘You’re not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm!’

I’m on a bit of a mission to save the world from burnout. Obviously, that’s very ambitious, but I can start somewhere! Because according to the World Health Organisation, stress burnout is the 21st century health epidemic.

In this very fast paced world that we’re living in, I think people are dangerously close to the edge. And once you go down that black hole, it’s not just a weekend recovery, it can take a long, long time. It can have a long term and very damaging effect on health and wellbeing. So it’s really important that people get to grips with their relationship with stress.

What are your triggers?
There are some key questions to ask yourself: What are your triggers? What pushes you from being okay to absolutely not okay? And what happens to you? Because we’re all different in the way we deal with it.

Stress itself is not the enemy – we need a certain amount in our bodies to galvanize us, and it’s for survival as well. But when we have stress in our body for too long, that’s when it starts to have a very negative effect, wears us down and can affect our immune system so we’re much more susceptible to illness. Be aware of what happens to you – what do you do when you feel yourself moving closer to burnout?

Self care is vital
What are you doing to manage that stress? How do you regenerate? Because if you’ve got all that energy going out, you need to replenish it. In many ways we’re a little bit like a field: you wouldn’t reap a really good crop from a field every year. We need to step back and think about the things we’re doing for ourselves to create better balance. Exercise is really important, as is what we eat. And if you’re really stressed, really burnt out, and you’re drinking loads of coffee or going home and pouring yourself a giant glass of wine and thinking that’s going to help, then you need to think again. Self-care is key. Make a commitment to self-care and create more balance in your life.

Establish clear boundaries
I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to establish boundaries. If we’re not careful, we become people pleasers and we say ‘yes’ to everything. But that’s not realistic. It’s not about saying ‘no’, it’s about saying ‘yes’ but on your terms. You can’t please everybody all the time. There’s a lovely saying which I really like, which is ‘you’re not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm!’

This is an edited version of a conversation with Liggy Webb that appears in the Clear Lessons video learning library. The library contains more than 1,500 videos and is completely free to all voluntary sector organisations, their staff and volunteers. Corporate organisations can purchase a licence, which supports free access for charities. Please ask us for more details.

About Liggy Webb

Liggy Webb is an award-winning and bestselling author, presenter and international consultant specialising in behavioural skills. She’s recognised as a thought leader on resilience and behavioural agility and works with a wide range of businesses helping people to be more resilient, agile and healthy in a volatile, uncertain and highly complex world.

Organisations she works with include the BBC, the NHS, Macmillan Cancer Support, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, BNP Paribas, Sainsbury’s, Disney, Ralph Lauren and various universities.

Her book Resilience: How To Cope When Everything Around You Keeps Changing, is a practical and accessible guide for coping with change and offers advice on how to recover and flourish through challenging times. The guiding principles in the book are being televised for a series with the BBC world service, due out in 2019.

Liggy actively supports a range of charities as well as partnering with The Charity Learning Consortium to develop tools and resources for the charitable sector.


Would you like to join our growing list of over 150 members? 

CL Consortium Ltd
Vine House, Selsley Road,
Stroud, GL5 5NN