Niamh’s Burnout Story
Niamh is the Founder of a peer-to-peer mentorship and idea sharing platform called Soundboard, that brings together organisers, founders, creatives, and other trailblazers who are doing something brilliant in the world. Soundboard helps them to connect with one another through curated matching and inspired content. When she isn’t supporting creatives she is can be found doing up a van that she hopes to use to work on the road.
What’s your experience of burnout?
On reflection, I’ve experienced burnout on and off throughout my career but was so out of tune with my body that I don’t even think I realised it was happening, it would show up in my body, skin breakouts or just being exhausted for weeks at a time – it took me way too long to connect it to work! A couple of years ago I started tuning into my body more and realised it was all connected to work.
Were there any warning signs before you burned out?
In hindsight, yes, there were lots of signals. I would be really run down, my skin was a mess and actually had family and friends tell me that I worked too hard but I just put it down to them not being in my industry, or that they didn’t “get it” – I think when you’re out of tune with yourself it’s worth taking inventory on what is being reflected back to you – whether it’s your nearest and dearest telling you or constantly feeling run down… I normalised feeling burnt out that I didn’t think there was another way to work!
How did you recover?
I think there was a moment about two years ago when I said “there has to be a better way to work”…and that’s when I started to exam what I enjoyed doing so that I could make my great escape from the corporate world, I think it took longer because there wasn’t much conversation or language to identify what might be going on (I hadn’t even heard about burnout until last year haha)
Any tips to manage stress and overwhelm?
When my mind starts spinning, I change my environment, I usually take a walk and reassess what’s really important – I’m very aware that most of my problems are privileged and not life threatening. I do often feel myself slip back into old habits of doing “busy work” and I always ask myself “what is the deadline on this, am I creating unnecessary stress to get this done for a deadline that I created for myself?” and “will this matter in a year?”…I’m big on resetting my perspective
What are your absolute must-dos to keep you healthy, happy and calm?
I always take some “me” time every day, usually, before I do any work – a cup of tea in bed & reading my book, a walk outside before I start my day, yoga, working out – I am really intentional about getting at least an hour or two a day of “me” time
Why do you think so many people burn out?
I think a lot of people equate “doing a good job” or being “successful” to working really really hard versus doing really valuable work, it was when I started to reframe this (and believing it) that things changed for me, and now I’m doing more rewarding work, for more money and in less time. But that process took me about 4 years to figure out what was going on and even now I have to remind myself “is this actually important or adding value” because busy work always creeps up.
If you had to go back to that time what, if anything, would you do differently?
I don’t know if there is anything I would do differently – I feel like the timing is everything and I’m pretty happy where I landed today, maybe just that I wouldn’t stress so much about getting things done on time (still working on that actually!)
Final words of wisdom…
One of the best pieces of wisdom I got was from a friend who taught me about theta waves in our brain, and how we can hack our brains for creativity, this is the article and I have used it ever since – mind blown.