While it’s not classified as a medical condition, burnout is officially recognized by the World Health Organization, which called it an “occupational phenomenon.”
Ballesteros told TMRW that her own experience with a grueling two years of continued work stress is what led her to follow this career path.
“I couldn't find comprehensive training for burnout management anywhere, despite countless peers and colleagues struggling in the same areas, so I combined my personal and professional experiences to create it myself,” she said.
As a full-time burnout coach, she shares some of her best work-life balance tips on her popular TikTok account, @emilybruth. With a mix of humor and earnestness, her videos are a great resource for anyone who’s feeling burned out ... or on their way to feeling it.
So, we had to ask: How can we create a work-life balance that will make us happier, not only in our jobs but in our lives overall? Check out her five top tips below!
1. Pause before you say yes
Ballesteros said this is the absolute most important thing someone should do in order to prevent burnout.
“It's easy to switch into auto-pilot and say ‘yes’ to make people happy, but if you take the extra five seconds to create space before agreeing to things, you can start protecting your limited resources one ask at a time,” she explained.
If you’re struggling with saying no to things, either at work or your personal life, here’s a script you can use: "Thanks for asking! Can I check my calendar and get back to you on whether I have capacity for that?"
2. Manage your workload
If you feel like you have way too much on your plate at work, Ballesteros recommends creating a list of everything you’re doing (projects, meetings, etc.) and how long each item takes. From there, prioritize the most essential tasks at the top.
“Once you've outlined your role and what portions are most essential, come up with alternatives for the items that are lower priority (outsource, delegate, simplify, pause, etc.). If you can present your manager with a solution rather than the problems, they're more likely to go along with your changes. Additionally, asking for changes on a temporary basis can help people be more accepting of them.”
3. Take your vacation
You may feel guilty about taking time off of work, especially when you have a lot going on, but Ballesteros says it’s really important.
“Taking time off of work is not a gift from the company to you that you need to dance around, it's a legal obligation,” she said. “Many people have taken vacation before you, many will take vacation after you. It sounds harsh, but someone much more important than you is taking vacation as we speak. If they can do it, you can do it.”
She also added, “If your workload is so high and your team depends on you so much that you can't take time off, that is not a reflection of you not getting work done fast enough, there is a larger systemic issue at play.”
4. Create boundaries with technology
Digital overload can also leave you feeling burned out, especially when you are answering work emails on a Saturday afternoon. “It's up to you to create boundaries with your technology,” Ballesteros said. “If you're going to stop checking email outside of X-X hours, tell your team: ‘I've gotten in the bad habit of answering emails outside of working hours, so from now on I will not be responding to email outside of X-X. If there is an emergency, you can call me.’"
She also recommends leaving technology in another room altogether if checking it has become compulsory. “If your brain is looking for breaks during the day, create a list of alternatives you can do when you're itching for a media break.” So, if you’re itching to check that email when you know you shouldn’t, get up and stretch, dance to an upbeat song or go for a walk outside.
5. Take control
Ballesteros said the two quotes that helped her through her own burnout phase were, "What you are not changing, you are choosing," and "Nothing changes if nothing changes."
“Both of those helped put into perspective how responsible I was for the life I wake up to everyday,” she said.
If you’re feeling burned out, she suggests keeping a detailed record of how you spend your time for three days. “Keep an hour-by-hour breakdown of how you're allocating your resources and then sit down with that data and observe your patterns.” For example, are you getting enough sleep? Do you lose too many hours to social media? Are there recurring stressors you need to create boundaries with? “Before you can get from point A to point B you have to know where point A is,” she said.