How coaching can help you to prevent or recover from Burnout

How coaching can help you prevent or recover from Burnout

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 or message me on Linkedin at

Be kind to yourself to let go of your inner critic

Practising self-compassion allows you to let go of your inner critic. Being kind and understanding of yourself can be beneficial to your mental and emotional health.

It’s common for us all to be self-critical at times, especially when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It can hold us back and prevent us from expressing who we really are and what we want to do because we fear failure or rejection.

If we constantly judge ourselves or are seeking to be perfect at everything we do our inner critic will creep in. Comparing ourselves to others can intensify self-doubt and serves no purpose.

Finding our true voice and our purpose isn’t always easy because it means we have to confront our own vulnerability. But this is where we can start to build our inner strength and resilience. With this we will  be able to confidently manage the challenges we will encounter both at work and in our life in general. We will gain increased optimism and experience more positive emotions like happiness and connectedness. We will also have a greater ability to cope with negative emotions when they arise.

Be kind to yourself – How to let go of your inner critic

There is nothing complicated about this simple way of managing your inner critic. I’ve suggested a simple tip to help you. It is something you can easily do to help change your negative mindset to a positive one. So why not have a go and experience the benefits for yourself.

Imagine how you would respond to a close friend who is struggling with self-criticism. Chances are you would show more compassion to a friend or loved one than to yourself. So when you notice your inner critic creeping in consciously practice self-compassion. Be as kind to yourself as you would to a friend or loved one. Even a small kindness to yourself can make all the difference and even more so if you practice it on a daily basis and make it a habit.

Examples of a small kindness to yourself

  • Think of one thing you are grateful for today
  • Give yourself a compliment
  • Take a short walk to break up your day
  • Treat yourself to something, a coffee with a friend, buy a book you have always wanted but never bought, listen to your favourite music
  • Commit to regular exercise, 10 – 15 minute sessions that are easy to fit in to your day, regardless of how busy you are
  • Think of what you really want and take one step towards achieving that dream
  • Forgive a mistake you may have made. Everyone makes mistakes now and again
  • Laugh
  • Just take time out and do nothing. Just be
  • Have a warm relaxing soak in the bath
  • Commit to finishing work on time at least one day a week

Be kind to others but never forget to be kind to yourself

8 ways to reduce anxiety at work

8 ways to reduce anxiety at work

“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.”

Dorothy M. Neddermeyer

According to Mental Health First Aid England, 1 in 6 people at work will experience anxiety or problems related to stress at any one time. The fashion industry is accepted as one of the most stressful to work in due to its unique pressures. Although fashion may appear exciting and glamorous from the outside it is a demanding lifestyle, fast paced, highly competitive and insecure where overwhelm and anxiety are commonplace due to the pressure of excessive workloads and long hours. For many the early years also are made extra challenging by low pay and in some cases it causes individuals to leave the industry. It has been well publicized that several well-known designers and entrepreneurs in the industry have suffered from burnout and worse but it is really important to acknowledge that this occurs throughout the industry at all levels.

Feeling overwhelmed at work is a stress response when we feel the demand on us outweighs our resources. This can take us into survival mode where we are unable to think clearly or concentrate and we constantly worry and feel out of control. To others we may appear defensive or irritable and it can cause difficulties with working relationships. As well as the emotional toll anxiety can manifest in unpleasant and debilitating physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, headaches, not being able to relax or sleep well.

Having experienced burnout myself when I began my career as a young designer, I understand how hard it is to ask for help, but having eventually found the courage to do so it was life changing. With the right support I was able to make positive and transformational changes to the way I was working and living. It enabled me to reclaim my motivation to enjoy and succeed in the career I loved. I was healthier and happier knowing I was more resilient and had the tools to manage and respond to challenges when faced with them.

The most important step is to take action and seek help if it is interfering with our everyday living. We can learn strategies and routines that will help reduce overwhelm. It is crucial to understand what is at the root of our anxiety and build a personal toolkit so we can have more than one strategy to implement when stress and anxiety kick in.

Here are 8 ways to help manage anxiety

1. Become more self aware

Self awareness is paramount when it comes to managing stress because if we know ourselves well enough then tuning into our feelings, thoughts and behaviours daily allows us to recognise any early warning signs of stress. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling now?” Reflect on how you are feeling physically and emotionally. Have you noticed any changes in the way you behave or respond to situations or other people? Someone else may notice change in your behaviour so rather than being in denial or defensive consider the benefit of taking a moment to reflect. This may be a gift that can help you to acknowledge the early warning signs of stress when you can reduce the risk of longer-term health issues.

2. Identify your triggers

If you are experiencing overwhelm and anxiety at work it is important to identify why you are feeling that way. Be self aware and honest about what is causing you stress. Is your workload too great? Are there not enough hours in the day? Is your boss putting excessive pressure on you? Do you lack the resources needed to complete the task in hand? Knowing your personal triggers is the first step to dealing with your anxiety. Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings and actions and what causes you to feel stressed. Writing them down helps to clarify the issues.

3. Don’t suffer in silence

If your workload is unmanageable it’s a good idea to speak to your boss. I know you are thinking that this might seem really difficult to do, but if you do nothing then nothing will change and it will only get worse. If you plan ahead for the meeting and remain calm and professional, you are more likely to get a positive response. Be clear about your job description and identify what you are doing, how long the tasks are taking and what resources you need and why your workload is challenging. Take some control by suggesting practical solutions that would help to alleviate the problem.

4. Change your view

Putting things into perspective can be difficult at work especially when it feels all-consuming. Remember to focus on the important things in your life. It’s not just about work. Recognise what you have control over and try to consciously let go of those things that you can’t control. Even when you can’t control circumstances you can control how you respond to them.

5. Nurture yourself and your wellbeing

When you are overwhelmed the tendency is to just keep going even though you are exhausted. However when things are tough at work it is important to remember that prioritising your health and wellbeing is more important than ever. Set boundaries between work and the rest of your life. Commit to include other activities outside work into your day and stick to them. Ask a friend or someone you trust to make sure you do the things you decide to do. Don’t isolate yourself, enjoy time with a friend, get involved with an activity you love or help someone else so you take the focus away from yourself. Even a short walk during the working day outside in a different environment helps to break the cycle of overwhelm. Listen to a relaxation or mindfulness app or make some time just to relax and do nothing to reclaim your energy.

6. Live in the present

Focusing on the future is unproductive and stress inducing so focusing on the present is more helpful. Take each day as it comes. Focus on your life, connecting with friends and finding enjoyment and gratitude for everyday simple tasks and events. Laugh and smile, humour can help break a negative stream of thought.

7. Stress is not all bad

It is important to recognise that you need positive stress (eustress), to motivate you and help you achieve your goals. Stress is inevitable but rather than seeing it as all bad try finding ways to embrace it and use it for good. Building resilience and mental toughness will help you learn how to control your mind rather than letting your mind control you. Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Upside of Stress: Why stress is good for you (and how to get good at it), is well worth a read.

8. Take action

If you have difficulty managing stress and it impedes your ability to carry out your normal daily activities then don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Asking for help is not a weakness, taking action will help you to reduce your anxiety, increase your resilience and build a happier and healthier life. You can learn how to master your mind and create the life you want. Do something about it today. It really helps to talk.

If this resonates with you then do something today that your future self will thank you for

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