Arianna Huffington learned the hard way that ignoring your personal well-being comes with consequences. Two years into starting the Huffington Post, she collapsed from exhaustion, hit her head on her desk, and broke her cheekbone. The accident made her realize that burnout is a universal problem--one that she wanted to help solve.
"I didn't just want to raise awareness," said Huffington, now the CEO and founder of Thrive Global, at Inc.'s Purpose Power Summit 2021 on June 15. "I wanted to help people change behavior, go from awareness to action."
While in recent years burnout has been more widely recognized as a serious workplace issue, Huffington says it was the Covid-19 pandemic that finally raised the issue to the C-suite. During the online event, she offered tips for preventing it.
Huffington advised starting small and taking "micro-steps." According to neuroscience research, she said, it takes about 60 to 90 seconds to course correct when you feel stress coming on. In this time, you can breathe, take a step away from Zoom, rethink problems, and practice gratitude.
She noted, however, that it's important to take these steps not just when you feel stressed, but also at the start and end of the day. To resist the temptation to keep working late into the night, turn off your cellphone and charge it outside your bedroom. If you can't do that every night, start with one night a week. Then, in the morning, take 60 seconds to decide what you might want from your day.
And, perhaps most notably, Huffington said, it shouldn't just be up to the individual to manage their own well-being. Employers need to be empathetic and do their part to make sure their people stay healthy.
"If your employees are stressed out, depressed, it doesn't matter how many productivity enhancements you have to optimize workflows," she said. "They're not going to be able to work at their best."