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Your burnout first aid kit

Make sure your laptop camera is off.

I remember being a young father trying to "balance" diapers, graduate school at night, lawn mowing, and a slate of other obligations. Showing up just in the nick of time for a presentation due to a last-minute "diaper dump" from my son (you're welcome for the image, by the way), I had a senior executive tell me that I needed to "delegate better" at home. Well, that's one way of defining "work/life balance" but I am not sure my other 2-year-old boss at the time would necessarily agree.

The gift of shift.

It was all those years ago that I decided that the concept of "work-life" balance was like the idea of avoiding carbs. It sounds like a reasonable expectation, but it's never going to happen - at least not on my watch.

Rather, I started to make a shift to thinking more in terms of "work-life integration". Today, with an email, text message, or phone call never more than a finger swipe away, learning how to synthesize life and work priorities in a way that does not cause more stress is more critical than ever. It starts with the shift in thinking.

B is for balance, burnout, and break.

Today, when we talk about balance it is frequently connected to the often-mentioned burnout that seems to be part of every conversation, particularly since the pandemic. Interestingly enough, one of the ways to address burnout is not only by managing one's day in a more productive and efficient way but also by learning to say no and finding mini-breaks.,

C is for communication.

If you're going to take a break, you need to make sure you and those around you are on board. There's only one way in - communication. Storytelling through powerful antidotes helps convey "just a warning, I'm on the edge" as a tool in your burnout first aid kit. This is directly connected to the ability to identify ways to have more direct discussions with those at work and in your life about what you are going through.

Don't forget your hidden superpower.

The safer it feels psychologically to do so, the easier communicating your needs becomes. Add in a bit of authentic humor and now you've gone from being seen as a potential complainer to a sympathizer and comrade in arms. A little storytelling doesn't hurt to make that vital connection needed when you might feel a bit vulnerable, too. This helps to frame a situation from a viewpoint that is not threatening or stressful.

The game of life.

This may also help everyone on your team move from "balance" to "integration" - which is more focused on a broader view. Michelle Marquez, Associate Dean of Human Resources and Administration at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business explains that “there is not a sense of competing elements of work and life that must be evenly distributed" when work and life are more integrated. In this way, work isn't competing with life and life isn't competing with work. There is just life and the more that vital connections are made with those in your orbit, the more harmonious for all.

The VITAL5 ROUNDUPYour burnout first aid kit

1. The gift of shift – your perspective, that is, from work-life balance to work-life integration

2. B the change you need – to avoid burnout, find little breaks to help you balance

3. Take the edge off.. and place it in your story instead.

4. Use your hidden superpower – yup, humor - use it, don't lose it.

5. It's your life – set the rules for work and personal time and then pass Go and collect your rewards.

VitalConex is a connect-and-create company. To learn more about the "peanut butter cup" of successful teams, check us out at

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