How to avoid burnout – the art of listening to your body at work

How to avoid burnout – the art of listening to your body at work
Opinion: Midlife in Media

You absolutely can do this wonderful, crazy job, run a house, socialise and still feel a strand of sanity at the end of it, says career coach and former media sales executive Stefanie Daniels in a new column for The Media Leader.

I was 12 years old when I realised I wanted to work in media. My dad and I were sitting in a shopping centre food hall discussing what I’d be when I grew up and he asked me what, in life, I liked the most.

I eventually replied with a word that would shape my future better than any university degree would.

“People”, I said. “I really like people”.

“Well”, he responded, “then you should go into media”… and just like that, I had made up my young mind – media would be my career home.

Fast forward many years later, I sit here writing to you as someone who had a long and wonderful career in media. I write as someone who knows all too well the nostalgia every single job has…. “Oh, it’s not like the good old days,” my bosses used to say in the early 2000s, to which I now hear the very same chimings all these years later.

But the very one trait I love about media, is its continued ability to attract a diverse culture. So why I ask you, are so many of us experiencing information overload (especially as we’re ironically the ones creating the majority of this information), unnecessarily leading some of us to burnout?

Well, fear not. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m here to talk to those of you who feel this very real overwhelm, who feel like you’re running on reserves and are unsure where to turn.

I can tell you that you are not alone, that there is a way out. You absolutely can do this wonderful, crazy job, run a house, socialise and still feel a strand of sanity at the end of it.

I am Stefanie Daniels, executive coach, nutritional therapist and happily menopausal. I have been where you are and can tell you, optimising my health, my hormones and my house wasn’t a linear process — it was more of a zig-zag journey to where I am today, but I had key anchors that I put into place and even though the wind of life rocked my boat, by consistently persevering and showing up for myself, slowly but surely the tide started turning and I felt better than I had done in years.

What follows are my starting points on how to avoid burnout and learn the art of listening to your body — all from the comfort of your boardroom.

Are you listening?

Whether or not you believe in the mind-body-soul connection, there’s no denying every single one of us have instinctively had an intuitive feeling at one point or another — for some, it may be a pressure in their throat, a knot in the stomach or a tightness in the chest. It’s that feeling we need to begin to listen to and connect with.

When the signs and symptoms of stress go beyond the ability to concentrate, retain information and result in the constant intake of prescription medication, it’s time to tune in. If you listen to your body when it whispers, it will no longer need to shout. 

This isn’t always easy because most of us have been taught to live as though we are in a constant emergency situation. Our culture teaches us that there is something wrong with pain and we take steps to silence it with a pill. We’re not taught that we have the ability to deal with pain — so stop and think about where the sensation is in your body, think about what you were doing in the lead-up to that sensation and then listen.

Don’t set a goal. Set a commitment

Take stock of how much you might be drinking, how much sleep you’re getting or the food you’re consuming and try to adjust any bad habits. It can be tempting to mitigate unhappiness at work with happy hours and sugar fixes but the physical benefits of eating and sleeping well far outweigh the temporary burst of short-term fixes.

So rather than setting a goal — which can be vague and obscure, set achievable daily commitments:

>> Have a ‘no meetings’ day so you can create space to focus on work or projects

>> Go to bed at the same time each evening

>> Eat foods your body recognises.

Be the anti-hero

We are addicted to being the hero in our business and having all the answers to the many questions thrown at us. But what if we turned this on its head and instead answered a question with ‘Well, what would you do in this situation? How would you handle it? Why don’t you put a plan together and present that to me?’.

Our innate ‘saving tendency’ doesn’t just go away, especially if you’re always the one talking. By learning to sit back, we empower others and feel empowered ourselves. It stops us pouring from an empty cup, allowing us to fill others up.


Truly listening to what our bodies are saying is the key to genuine healing. Regardless of our past, the key to staying healthy is in the present moment, right now.

So, just like the 12-year-old me who pondered what she wanted from life and determined her direction, know that it’s never too soon or too late to take control. It just starts with one… small… commitment.

Stefanie Daniels is the founder of Life Begins at Menopause and and worked in media sales for two decades, including for Wireless Group (News UK), Bauer Media Group, and GCap Media (now Global). 

Career Leaders: The Media Leader‘s weekly bulletin with thought leadership, news and analysis dedicated about media careers, training, development and wellbeing.
Sign up for free to ensure you stay up to date every Tuesday.

Media Jobs