It’s the American way. We are constantly online, messaging, multitasking and over-doing.
We’ve been dancing with burnout for years. But in 2020 burnout itself went viral. A third of U.S. employees started living at work with their laptops and inboxes beside them 24/7.
Not realizing it, we began to lose our commutes, stops and routines that were buffers to the job. We replaced them with more meetings on Zoom.
Add to this the chronic distress and worry over getting sick, losing loved ones, keeping jobs, social injustice, and childcare strains—and we are facing the most significant loss of well-being since the Recession of 2008.
The experts are speaking out. Among them, Christina Maslach of the University of California, Berkeley, Susan E. Jackson of Rutgers, and Michael Leiter of Deakin University, who put forward a list of six main causes for burnout (it reads like the perfect storm of 2020):
- Unsustainable workload
- Perceived lack of control
- Insufficient rewards for effort
- Lack of a supportive community
- Lack of fairness
- Mismatched values and skills
While the idea of dealing with this list feels overwhelming, together we can break it down. The first step is to talk about it. Whether you reach out to friends, family or teammates–authentic conversation is big medicine.
Well-being can be described as feeling good about life. Gallup breaks it down into these elements: strong and supportive relationships; fulfilling work; financial security; physical health and community involvement. These are the indicators of whether or not someone is thriving.
At Interact Studio, we decided to sit down with a few of our favorite people and ask them to share their experience with wellbeing and staying ahead of burnout.
Meet Molly Grantham.
Molly Grantham is an Emmy-winning anchor and investigative reporter at the heritage CBS affiliate, WBTV.
She has what many think is a glamorous job, but she is refreshingly down to earth. She has a community of followers who love her for her vulnerability, kindness–and the ability to laugh at herself and her family.
A mom of three, Molly wrote two books in her “spare time” about the hilarious, real-life moments of raising kids. The Huffington Post praised her work as “funny-honest, lovable-honest and at times, straight up embarrassing-honest.”
Molly can also be serious-honest. A couple of years ago, she gave a TEDx Charlotte Talk in which she pulled back the curtain on the image of perfection that women have to project in the broadcast news.
She walked out on stage in her jeans and old cowboy boots and said, “Hi. I’m Molly. This is me.”
Her backdrop was a huge, photoshopped image of her behind the anchor desk, with a sparkling white smile. She said, “This is me, too. The shiny, hairsprayed, perfect version of me.”
She went on to share an intimate conversation with the audience that can be summed up this way: Stop trying to make life look superficially good. Remember it’s not the image. It’s never the image. It’s what’s inside. Be strong. Be kind. Most of all, be authentic.
Molly, in your work as a reporter, what do you hear from people about burnout?
For those of us still going into a work building (I come into the studio 2pm-midnight), the career piece of life provides a sense of normalcy. But I talk with lots of people all the time – in the past year mostly women who juggle homeschool, kids, work, life, elderly parents, isolation, etc. – and if you listen to them you’ll hear it in their voices: Burnout is real. Fatigue is real.
Who in your life supports your wellbeing?
Girlfriends. My husband. My three younger brothers. Sometimes my kids in huge ways, but also sometimes they are why I need to lean on other people because they make me crazy. I consider their role in “my personal well-being” an overall wash (laughing).
You work tough hours. What gives you energy? How do you incorporate physical wellbeing elements into your day?
A few weeks ago I got a FitBit. I started bringing sneakers to work. After I walk off-set at 6pm in my 4-inch heels, I put on sneakers with my work dress, and walk. Steps. Doesn’t matter how many. Doesn’t matter where. Inside the building (while masked) mostly.
How does your work fulfill your sense of purpose?
People have leaned on the news more than ever the past year; I feel a sense of responsibility to get it right. Not just on-air, but also through my social media. Give simplified, but credible information because people want it and need it more than ever now. I love having that as a big part of my job.
We know you are connected to the community. What is the cause that gives you purpose?
That’s easy. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Molly’s family has been hit hard by cancer. Her grandfather died of pancreatic cancer. Her mom died of breast cancer in 2017 and her father, who she calls her “forever hero,” died of colon cancer in 2006. Molly’s grandmother also battled breast cancer and her great-grandmother died of the disease.
So, it’s personal. Over the past decade, Molly has helped Susan G. Komen Charlotte raise millions, pouring much of it back into the community.
Molly thrives in bringing value to her family, friends, viewers and community.
You can follow her at @molly_grantham.
Action Steps For Moving Away from Burnout
With each article in this series, we will offer practical ideas and action steps for moving away from burnout and toward thriving.
- Hit the trail. Greenways, parks and nature preserves can relieve our stress and give us a sense of space.
- Practice gratitude. To develop social well-being, we need to build our social skills, like gratitude, kindness, and communication. Keep a daily gratitude journal and list three things (big or small) that you love.
- Actively look for signs of burnout among your teammates. People need more support and connection.
- Turn your thoughts toward helping a friend. It’s impossible to think about two things at once. So, if you’re thinking about someone else, you can’t worry about yourself so much.
- Start a negativity diet. Feed your soul by reading or watching something that inspires and sustains you. Focus on things that bring positivity to your life.
Read Part One: How are Erica Butler of THE JAM: CLT and Pedro Perez of Charlotte Family Housing thriving? Click here to find out.
Read Part Two: How are Alli Celebron-Brown of McColl Center for Art + Innovation and William McNeely of Do Greater Charlotte thriving? Click here to find out.
Next up in the Interact Studio Series on Thriving: We sit down with Charlie Elberson, VP of Insights and Strategies at Wray Ward and the primary trustee and advisor for the Reemprise Fund within the Foundation For The Carolinas.
The normal pressures we put on ourselves combined with the daily strain of COVID have caused burnout in the workplace to be at an all-time high. The more burned out we are, the more our well-being is damaged. But, if we are able to take stock of our passions and purpose, and incorporate them into our personal and professional lives, we can start to avoid burnout and begin to thrive.
Molly showed us that she thrives in bringing value to her family, friends, viewers and community. How are you thriving today?
Thanks for visiting Interact Studio!
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