Q&A: Wellness consultants talk employee burnout | People
Elizabeth Moore and Ashley James established consulting agency TRILUNA Wellness in 2018 after experiencing emotional and physical exhaustion while working in their careers. Moore worked in the marketing and branding industry and James worked as an IT health care recruiter and manager. Both women were frequently stressed and looked to wellness activation tools for relief.
After realizing how beneficial those tools were, Moore and James decided to help organizers, HR teams and marketers to increase employee engagement.
TRILUNA offers wellness and stress management programs aimed at a positive cultural impact, building camaraderie and a better understanding of the needs of employees within a workplace.
“We each found our way to wellness because of burnout,” the founders told the Post. “Our wellness is radically different from what most people think about when they think about wellness. We take a mental health-first approach, which means stress management is at the very core of all we do, whether it’s a yoga class, a workshop or programming.”
What wellness practices can employers use to prevent employees from experiencing burnout?
So much of what we think is a fact about work and stress is just a default mode we’ve gotten used to. The world is evolving. The way we work is evolving. We were handed a workplace culture that glorifies production at the expense of mental health but we can choose something different. Through our work with companies as large as LinkedIn and as small as local yoga studios, TRILUNA has identified five areas that must be addressed to prevent burnout and reduce stress:
1. Divest from hustle culture: Culture happens from the top down. We must ask ourselves, in what ways are we encouraging unhealthy habits at the expense of the mental health of our team? Anonymously survey teams and leadership to ask them what they need and where they feel they need support.
2. Encourage deep self-care: Wellness is not the same thing as fitness. Stress management, mental health care and honoring on and off time will do more for your people than pushups and fitness challenges ever will.
3. Commit to your community: Community plays a huge role in employee wellbeing. To build a community there must be communication, transparency and vulnerability. Additionally, for that community to have a real impact it must also be inclusive.
4. Support personal growth: People need purpose, freedom and direction. A workplace that encourages personal and professional development tells employees and teams that we care about their progress and we are invested in it.
5. Redefine and offer opportunities to structure productivity: Having time and having capacity are not the same thing. Often productivity is cyclical. When outside stressors are high it is unrealistic to expect that productivity levels will remain the same. We can encourage better work in less time by allowing employees freedom around where and how they work while communicating expectations and offering support.
What lessons regarding how to manage stress better have you both learned while being entrepreneurs?
Stress is inevitable. Stress in entrepreneurship is ever-present, but burnout made us both incredibly sick so we take our stress management seriously. We believe in practicing what we preach so we’re invested in our communities, committed to personal growth and practitioners of self-care. We have learned to lean in by paying deep attention to our bodies — listening to them, noticing when things feel off and monitoring our responses to things. When we notice that things feel off, we take a break. We each have different strategies for completing the stress cycle and allowing our bodies to move through the experience.
Ashley loves yoga, meditation and long walks. Elizabeth is a runner and a home chef. We both love journaling, therapy and quiet contemplation. We have also both learned to redefine balance. There are times as entrepreneurs when we have to work harder and longer hours which means that when we have downtime, we take it. That doesn’t mean that we don’t hear the “you could be doing more” voice, but we have learned to quiet it.
Why is it important to prioritize mental health?
Mental health is the health we prioritize at TRILUNA because it’s the health at the center of it all. Without mental health, we cannot prioritize ourselves, our movement practices or our habits. The phrase we use all the time is “all the kale in the world won’t fix it if you have an unmanageable amount of stress in your life because what is kale going to do in the face of trauma, loneliness or anxiety?” The wellness industrial complex likes to make us feel like we are one green juice away from perfect health or one hot yoga class away from having it all figured out – but that’s just not the way humans work.
No one wants to be well just for the sake of being well. We want to be well so we can spend more time with the people we love, doing things we love and interacting with the world with less pain and illness. A pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps approach is futile. It might help you mask what you’re dealing with but it won’t solve your problems. For too long we have moralized mental toughness without ever offering resources for understanding why we feel the ways we do. True wellness starts with mental well-being and an awareness of our unique needs.
How does overworking negatively impact the body?
Overworking can lead to chronic stress. Stress, on its own, is not a bad thing. We need our stress response because it keeps us safe and ready to respond, but the danger is spending too much time here. When we find ourselves stuck in our stress response from overworking it can move from acute to chronic stress. Chronic stress can raise our blood pressure, decrease libido, increase our chance of poor cardiovascular outcomes, make us feel like we are constantly on edge and many more symptoms.