Why are there are very high levels of burnout in the fashion industry?
If you are reading this because you feel you have symptoms of burnout you are not alone. The industry is one of the most competitive, fast paced and uncompromising sectors. It also has a unique set of pressures that resulted in high levels of burnout particularly amongst designers and creatives.
Burnout results from the industry’s workplace culture, expectations, behaviours and patterns of working.
- Unrealistic expectations
- Unsustainable workloads
- Insecure nature of the industry
All these and more are identified as factors contributing to burnout. In addition the beliefs you hold about yourself can also contribute to you being vulnerable to burnout. For instance, the need to succeed, to feel the need to constantly exceed expectations or gain recognition for your work. This is compounded by the pressures you as a designer put on yourself to succeed in an industry you have always dreamt of being a part of.
So what is burnout?
Burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It’s the result of sustained levels of workplace stress that greatly diminishes your immune system and adrenal glands that help regulate your response to stress.
Burnout symptoms tend to creep up on you so it is not always easy to identify.
It is very important to clarify that burnout is not an illness. Your body is telling you that your capacity to respond to stress is overloaded.
Paying attention to your symptoms is paramount in recognising you are suffering burnout. Symptoms of Burnout
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Self-doubt and feel like giving up
- Feel overwhelmed, hopeless or resentful
- Feel detached from others
- Lack motivation and not enjoying your work
- Sleep difficulties
- Experience physical symptoms. Headaches, sore throats, stomach problems, anxiety and panic attacks
What happens if you don’t address the symptoms of burnout?
I know from my personal experience that if you do not address burnout then the symptoms just get worse and it becomes a viscous cycle.
You may think it’s best to take time away from work to rest and recover. As a result you may feel more like yourself again as the things that caused your burnout symptoms are temporarily removed. However when you return to your work environment you will still be exposed to the things that caused you burnout in the first place. Subsequently you will experience the same symptoms as the cycle has not been permanently broken. It requires more than just rest. It requires understanding as to why it’s happening and why you are responding in this way. Subsequently armed with this knowledge you can begin to work on your recovery
I know it takes courage to ask for help and people often put off seeking help initially because they keep telling themselves:
- I should be able to sort this out myself
- I’m too busy
- I feel too scared or anxious to ask for help
- Maybe I’m just not up to the job or the industry
Above all it’s important to take immediate action to prevent burnout symptoms getting worse or to stop burnout occurring again in the future.
How coaching can help you to prevent or recover from burnout
The symptoms won’t go away on their own and they can be very distressing and scary.
If you are a freelance designer/creative, own a small business or employed you can feel be very isolated when you are suffering from burnout. Having a coach to support you 1:1 can make a real difference and be life changing.
I believe that coaching can help break the cycle of burnout and it enables you to:
1. Have a chance to step back and take a look at what is really going on for you
You will have time to think and be listened to in complete confidence without judgement. Feeling able to share how you feel can make a significant difference to how you perceive what’s happening to you.
2. Understand how stressful or difficult situations affect you physically, mentally and emotionally
When you are conscious of what is happening to you and the impact it has on you, you can learn strategies to help you respond to difficult challenges or situations rather than react in a way that causes you distress. This enables you to feel more in control and empowered.
3. Explore your boundaries and how to make them work for you
Are you a people pleaser?
Do you find it difficult to say no?
Do you feel responsible to help others even when you are exhausted yourself?
If you answered yes to these questions then you are more likely to take on too much and regularly work longer hours.
Coaching can help you think about why you feel uncomfortable or what worries you about saying no or asking others to help you.
You will learn how to establish boundaries to enable you to work at your best, place more value on yourself and your ability.
Setting boundaries prevents you from allowing yourself to be put into situations you find overwhelming or feel out of control.
4. Be aware of your beliefs and behaviours and how they impact you at work
You will be able to work on a very powerful understanding of how your beliefs, values and behaviours impact you in your working environment and culture.
Consequently when you understand your belief system and values you will be able to clarify any changes that would benefit your approach to work, look after your wellbeing and make better use of your time and energy.
5. Explore what work environment will best support you and your overall wellbeing
Your working culture can cause you stress and affect how you react to difficult situations. This is where coaching can help you to look at what will set you up for success at work.
We will focus on exploring what you need to thrive and achieve a balance where you can best use your skills and maximise any opportunities you want to explore.
6. Develop communication skills that will help you to create a healthier way of working
Communication is a key skill that is crucial when it comes to managing burnout. Creative people often feel they are not valued for their skills and feel insecure as a result. This can result in not speaking out when you need support.
Designers often remark that they feel they are seen as sensitive or dramatic and not taken seriously. This is an annoyingly perpetuated stereotyped view of a fashion designer and in my experience totally incorrect. I find most designers and creatives I coach or have worked with to be highly resilient.
You will learn to communicate so you will be perceived in the way you want and be confident to act sooner to find solutions to challenges.
However it is very important to clarify that you can do something to stop Burnout happening. This is where coaching can help you to find ways that will support you to find ways of stopping and preventing burnout. The sooner you take action the sooner you will feel so much better and back in control of your life.
Act Now! Because if you do nothing then nothing will change
If any of this resonates with you don’t delay in contacting me. I am very happy to have an informal, friendly cha about how I might help you.
You can book a no-obligation call at email@example.com or message me on Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/in/kate-darbyshire-evans