Fred and Alice are siblings who run different kinds of e-commerce stores. Alice is very passionate about make-up while her brother loves to sell gaming consoles. Both their stores are currently doing great. To help free up their workload, they decided to get the best virtual personal assistance in their fields. Like her client, Alice’s VA is always excited to work on the store no matter how heavy the workload gets. On the other hand, Fred’s VA is not doing so well and seems to be on the brink of burnout due to lots of pending work. To help with her brother’s problem, Alice gave him some tips to help him and his VA through the hurdle. She shared what she taught her assistant so they can also apply the concepts ASAP.  

Awareness is Key

If you don’t know the nature of the problem, you will have a problem solving it. Therefore, one way to prevent burnout is to determine if you are even dealing with it in the first place. For that matter, knowing its difference from stress and identifying the signs and symptoms are helpful first steps.  

How is stress different from burnout?

Stress is a physical, emotional, and mental manifestation that usually takes place in bouts. It’s possible to be stressed for around five minutes. It’s also possible to be stressed for three days straight. With rest and some basic coping mechanisms (i.e., meeting with friends or going for a quick hike), these tend to go away. On the other hand, burnout is a more complicated concern. It is a result of lots of consecutive and even simultaneous stressful episodes that lead to a breakdown. Unlike stress, you cannot easily address burnout using quick fixes that normally works for “stress episodes”. Also, the manifestations are worse than a short and stressful episode. For one thing, burnout can sap a person's willingness to do what they need to do. Aside from that, this lack of motivation lasts for more than just a few days. In some cases, it even leads to problems such as anxiety and depression.  

What are the signs that a burnout is underway?

In the case of Fred’s best virtual personal assistance provider, he seems to be so down while working on his tasks. Initially, the low spirits just last for a span of about two days. Lately, it seems that his depressed state remains. He also showed indications of constant exhaustion even during days with relatively lower workloads. In fact, he seemed not to be interested in working anymore. Even if he showed up for work, he seemed not to pay much attention to his tasks. In addition, it appeared that he practically dragged himself to work even though he was home-based. Aside from these, the VA’s quality of work started to decline. It initially started with some minor slip=ups that eventually became too frequent not to be noticed. At the time, there were too many errors, and Fred talked to him in private to see if there was something that he could do to help. To his surprise, his VA tried to deny that something was wrong and that he had nothing to worry about. Fred would not have it and taught him what his sister told him about prevention techniques for burnout. Hard as it may seem for Fred, he let his VA go for a leave of absence for one month so that he could rest and get himself together. Below, you will the changes the assistant made on his leave of absence.  

Breathing and meditation exercises

First, assume a comfortable position such as sitting or lying down. Focus on one word, phrase, or object while doing this exercise. If possible, close your eyes while you are at it. Take a deep breath through the nose, hold your breath, count to three, and slowly exhale through the mouth. Be aware of how your breath feels against your nose, mouth, and skin. Repeat the technique for about ten more times and assess how you feel at the moment. Even if you’re currently feeling a negative emotion at the time, never fail to acknowledge it. This approach brings forth awareness not only of your body but also of your mind and your emotions.  

Practice thankfulness

It may be the fact that you woke up this morning or someone gave you a piece of your favorite candy without any apparent reason. Whatever it is and however small the thing may seem, be thankful for it. Write your thoughts down in a journal daily. State something about the person, thing, or gesture that you are thankful about. Talk about how it made you feel and why you think it's important. If possible, also discuss how it caused an impact on your day, big or small. Acknowledging such things helps rewire your brain and your thoughts. In the long run, it can help create positive thoughts, especially when done with the help of a healthcare professional.  

Get away from work from time to time

In the case of Fred’s VA, Fred made sure that during the month-long break, he could do whatever he used to love. He also made sure that his VA knew to seek medical assistance to help him cope and recover from his condition. During this time, Fred made it a point to make his VA report to him on a weekly basis. During that period, his VA went out for nature trips, friend and family gatherings, and even art sessions. When he returned to work, he performed even better than when Fred first brought him to the team.  

Epilogue

After a few weeks of implementing these techniques, Fred’s best virtual personal assistance partner was doing great. In fact, he even exceeded Fred’s expectations in terms of performance. He also turned in deliverables not only on time but earlier than his deadlines. Right now, Fred also applies the techniques that his sister taught him to help him improve his productivity levels as well.