Burnout: Why We Still Need to Talk About COVID (Even If We’re Sick of It)

I have a confession. When I read the CTVNews article about small business owner burnout, I realized I am in that 2/3rds group.

woman with laptop on table rubbing her head to show burnoutI notice the signs of burnout pretty quickly now from experience: I get tearier, have poorer sleep, worry about getting it all done, cannot get work off my mind, and am more distractable. I’m more demanding with my family for their support – sometimes resiliently advocating and sometimes moodily complaining. My extroverted self has been tempered, often opting to stay home to read, cook, and go for a walk by myself.

It’s a risk to share this. No one hires an “unmotivational speaker.” I’m human. And it does no good to share the shiny versions of ourselves.

So I will continue with my confessions.

We talk a lot about busting mental health stigma; however, do we do the same to break the “busy” badge of honour? When someone says, “I’m so busy,” maybe they mean, “I think I might be heading toward or I’m at burnout.”

We get so darn used to being busy and overwhelmed that burnout symptoms become our new baseline.

We need to retrace our steps. The start of COVID might be a standard anchor for us all. I know we are all sick of talking about it, and might that be part of the problem? Not speaking of the residual burnout from it?

When we look back and honestly list everything we’ve had to navigate through, we probably cannot believe it. Seriously, take a moment and list it. Most of it is invisible to us, let alone to others.

I’ll go first.

You might not have seen that 90% of my work disappeared overnight in March 2020. I built a virtual studio, recreated every keynote, launched new programs (some total flops), created over a dozen virtual courses, wrote a book, sent over 2000 thank you cards (no joke), co-launched a global recognition event, and launched a new website. Six figures in expenses later, and finally having adjusted, it’s changing again. I’m back on the road, sometimes delivering virtual sessions from a hotel room before an in-person event. All the while, trying to give my best to the coaching clients I’m lucky enough to support through their ups and downs, lead a team of superstars and not lose them in #thegreatresignation, and, oh yeah, raise teens launching into adulthood.

Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE what I do. I feel honoured to do what I do. And, it’s been a gruelling 2+ years. I will admit that I haven’t fully “bounced back.”

Two summers before COVID, I wrote Flip Side of Failing. It might have been the universe telling me I’d need some of my own lessons to draw upon, and perhaps it was a fluke; regardless, that failure resiliency framework in the book has helped. I’ll admit I lose my way from it; however, it’s my true north. When I find my way back, it rights my mindset during burnout peaks.

The other thing that grounds me is the awe I feel for my clients and the industries I serve that have had a way harder time of it than I have.  The burnout has been even more substantial for them, and I try to use my empathy from the experience of this gruelling time to serve them better.

Image of employees with their hands together to cheerSo, we’re all in this together, even when it feels we’re not.

  • Show kindness.
  • Keep supporting local.
  • Love up small businesses.
  • Remind people when they’re struggling that they’re doing the best they can.

And remember, YOU are already Greatness!

Looking for more ideas to combat burnout? Check out these posts:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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