Credit: The NETWORK

On Wednesday evening, The NETWORK, Luxembourg's oldest international professional business women's association, kicked off the new year with an online event dedicated to the topic of burnout, featuring Executive and Public Speaking Coach Joanna Denton.

Joanna Denton is a two-time TEDx speaker and former Chair of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) for Luxembourg. During this online event, which attracted around 30 participants, she shared her personal experience with burnout and how professional help offered the best solution.

In the first part of the webinar, Joanna explained how to recognise the signs and symptoms of burnout and what to do about it. She touched on the societal norms of forcing people to complete tasks and push themselves even when they are unwell. She defined burnout as "a syndrome that comes from workplace stress that has not been properly managed", adding that contributing factors can come from the individual and / or the organisation.

Joanna went on to describe the different phases that can eventually lead to burnout, such as a lack of energy and motivation, reduced performance at work and just overall exhaustion. That being said, it is important not to confuse burnout with other illnesses which require a professional medical diagnosis. The aim of this webinar was rather to give participants the tools to reflect on and begin that conversation with a medical professional if needed.

Participants were then split into breakout rooms (on Zoom) to discuss their feelings and what resonated with them from what had been discussed so far during the webinar. One of the main takeaways was that COVID-19 and social distancing had created a new kind of stress and uncertainty.

The second half of the session was interactive, promoting responses from the audience. One of the participants, a doctor, said she had seen that some people were more stressed out being at home, whilst others had felt more comfortable and productive.

Joanna offered several strategies to help deal with a potential burnout: she emphasised that no one size fits all and encouraged participants who may be experiencing (or headed towards) burnout to challenge and rewrite beliefs and expectations which may trap them into something more helpful. High-level strategies include recognising and reducing internal and external stressors, increasing one's resources, identifying triggers and ultimately, if needed, seeking medical intervention.

In addition, Joanna offered a few strategies that could be used right away to get some headspace: showing self-compassion and taking time to breathe, applying self-care, doing just one simple task (anything at all) to get you started and build momentum, finding your support network (for emotional, logistical and / or medical support) and remembering that "No" can be a complete sentence. Participants then discussed when and how to say "No" in smaller breakout rooms.

Joanna concluded by recalling the importance of finding what works for you and reaching out for medical support if needed.

The event ended with The NETWORK giving away three copies of Joanna Denton’s book “A Different Truth”, in which she shares her own story, to participants chosen at random.