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Dr Paul Wood: Key Tips for Avoiding Burnout During Lockdown

Sophie Waldron
25 Aug 2021
The following article was written by Dr Paul Wood.
Paul is a Doctor of Psychology, a popular speaker, facilitator and the author of two best selling books: How to Escape from Prison: The Remarkable Story of How One Man Defied the Odds and Mental Fitness.


In this article Dr Paul Wood will provide four key tips, backed by research, to avoid burnout during lockdown.
  1. Limiting our exposure to the news. Having some exposure is useful to keep appropriately informed, but too much can increase anxiety and stop people focusing on the things that will actually put fuel in their emotional tank. I would recommend watching the news once a day or for scheduled announcements, but attempting to focus on things closer to home that restore our sense of control.
  2. One thing that puts fuel in our emotional tank is completing small tasks. Things like picking things up off the floor, doing the dishes, and cleaning out that odds and ends draw. The small sense of satisfaction that comes with completing such tasks (even though we don't really feel like doing so!), reflects a small release of dopamine. Dopamine is associated with a reduced risk of burnout and an increase in mental fitness and general wellbeing.
  3. Focus on what's in your circle of control. This idea captures aspects of both of the proceeding points. What we know from extensive research and experience in psychology is that focusing your attention on what's in your control is a far more effective way to increase effectiveness and wellbeing than worrying about other people or things that are outside of our immediate control. And what is within your circle of control...you! That's it, how you think, behave, and respond to your circumstances. Below is more information that helps illustrate this.
  4. Finally - Take one day at a time. Be aware of the world around you, but lower your horizon to what needs to be done today. Worrying about a future that hasn't yet happened is a sure way to risk burnout and hemorrhage our precious emotional energy. Focus on today and tomorrow will take care of itself.

Circle of Focus

Circle of Control: These things you have direct control over, such as your actions and your responses to adversity and opportunities. This is the area to focus on to optimise your effectiveness and wellbeing.
Circle of Influence:
These things you have indirect control over, such as other peoples’ reactions, their thoughts. But, unlike the Circle of Concern, you can still influence action or change. For example, you may influence how an employee or team member works or acts, but you can’t directly control them.
Circle of Concern:
These are areas that concern you but in which you generally have little or no control, such as national debt, weather or traffic. This is where reactive people spend too much time worrying about outcomes/actions they cannot do anything about. Don’t waste your time here as it will not positively contribute to your effectiveness and wellbeing.

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