Burn out and blackout – What are your warning signals?

As the days grow shorter, the blackout is coming.

It has been a brutal year. How do you and your people recharge your batteries?

I was so thrilled to find a jar  of Nutella lurking in the fridge (honest – it was nearly empty when I found it!!!). It wasn’t until I finished it, that I stopped to reflect and ask myself:

“why on earth did I think that was a good thing to do?”

Homeworking and poor posture had resulted in sciatica, I had spent 6 weeks standing up throughout all of my working days. I wasn’t able to exercise, or go for a walk with my husband in the evenings.

I couldn’t enjoy the simple things in life, including sitting down.  I was exhausted.

“It’s a weird, weird world.”

“So far, so good, thank goodness. How about you?”

These are my usual responses when I am asked how I am, how I am coping with Covid.

I realise in writing this, that my responses are part of my coping techniques, my “resilience mask” that I wear to protect me from the realities of our weird, weird world.

Every day, we do so many things unconsciously, without much, if any thought. Many of our habits are unconscious responses to what is happening around us.

So before daylight shrinks and blackout descends, take time to press your pause button, to consciously identify the habits and techniques that help you through each day. Capture your answers to the following question:

  1. When the going gets tough, how do I cope? How do I respond to remain energised and productive?

(Tip: Create your list over a week or so. Be honest with yourself, capture all your habits, the good and the not so good habits)

  1. Reflect on your list. Using different colours, highlight the good and the not so good habits.

As an example, here are some of mine:

My good habits: sleeping well; waking energised and raring to go; working on the big important topics first while my energy is high; taking breaks, going for a walk; doing my back exercises; singing – loudly;  looking at photos that bring me joy; client/volunteer work to achieve a positive difference; speaking to and connecting with people, eating healthy food………

My not so good habits: broken sleep; eating lots of chocolate; eating when not hungry; listening/reading too much bad news; avoidance, taking too long to start something that has to be completed; withdrawing; working long hours; concern about Covid and its impact …..

  1. Your good, helpful habits are those that help you recharge your batteries and build your resilience. These are the habits to continue to consciously recognise and add to your list throughout blackout. This is the list you reach for when the going gets tough.
  2. Your not so good, unhelpful habits are your warning signals. Too many of these in one day and your resilience disappears fast. Be aware, be alert, grab your list of helpful habits and quickly re-charge your batteries by doing one of them.

So when you find me singing loudly, you know I am polishing my “resilience mask” to boost my positive energy and productivity.  I am lucky, I have developed these habits over the years.  I also know to give myself permission to remove my mask. To let go and wallow when needed, in the knowledge that I can manage my resilience  (view our 2 minute resilience video). I can bounce back and take back control.

Key tips:

  • Focus your energy on what you can control to consciously manage your resilience.
  • Avoid wasting time and energy on what on what you can’t control, you are adding to your stress levels, reducing your resilience as a result.
  • Share this with your team to start these conversations. Build on these conversations so that you can recognise your own warning signals and those of others. Your warning signals sometimes need to be held up in your mirror by others for you to see. Share your helpful habits so that you can learn from each other and support each other through the winter months ahead.


How much time do you invest in you to reflect on how you need to adapt your way of working to be the best version of you in life?


Executive Coach Fiona Anderson is a Change Catalyst, Facilitator and Executive Coach. Fiona has extensive experience and expertise, rooted in the belief that people grow business.