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It's our final episode of Soft Skills where Evelyn talks about how to take care of yourself. If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will. So take all of these soft skills we've talked about and add this last little bit to make sure you can either avoid or bring yourself back from burnout.


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Maybe you live in a house with a garden, have a flower box outside your apartment, or you’ve just watched another HGTV show.

Either way, you’ll know that if you don’t take care of your plants, they’ll wilt. Throughout this whole course, we’ve been mastering soft skills to become the best businesspeople we can be.

And even though we’re definitely humans, we’re also sort of like plants. Unless we get all the basic things that we need -- like food, water, and a non-toxic environment -- we’ll suffer. To be our best business-selves, we have to take care of our whole selves.

With proper nutrition, a bit of exercise, and some work-life balance, we can all avoid burnout -- or recover if it happens. I’m Evelyn from the Internets. And this is Crash Course Business: Soft Skills. [Intro Music Plays] Work and school are stressful.

Things have to get done, whether you have the time or not. When given the choice between work, sleep, and an actual social life, it might feel like you can only pick two. We’ve all been there.

Because of all this pressure and the hustle culture we live in, it’s easy to fall victim to burnout. Burnout is when you’re so emotionally exhausted by your job that it’s basically impossible to enjoy it. And if you feel burnt out, be gentle with yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with you. Burnout can make you feel cynical, or feel like you’re going nowhere. And the exhaustion might seem like it’ll never end.

But it will. It just takes time, and some thoughtful changes, like balancing work with self-care. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish burnout from other mental health conditions.

So, if you feel like burnout is seriously affecting your life or could be a symptom of something else, like depression, we recommend that you seek out a professional. This video can’t have all the answers! But the main way we can avoid burnout in the first place, and recover from it, is by taking care of our most basic needs.

Number one is sleep. We’ve all stayed up or even pulled an all-nighter to work, but it’s not good for our brains. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who stayed awake for 24 hours and drove had the same impairment as a person with a 0.1 Blood Alcohol Content, which is legally drunk.

So get some rest! For most of us, a full night's sleep is at least 8 hours. And if you feel more rested after taking a 20 to 40 minute power nap on your lunch break, do it!

Arianna Huffington, the entrepreneurial mind behind HuffPost, is a big champion of them. So, you know, there’s some business cred. Next up: exercise can help us de-stress and clear our heads, which makes us more productive.

And you don’t need an expensive gym membership or a trainer. Any exercise is better than no exercise. So, take the stairs or go for a quick walk outside if you can.

If you have limited time or mobility, even doing some stretches can make a difference in your health. Then, there’s food. Don’t forget to eat!

And while unhealthy food can be comforting or convenient, we should try to eat nutritional meals. I’m not going to list out any diets or food plans -- that’s a personal decision that you have to research. But try meal-prepping over a weekend to get ahead for the week.

Try new recipes! Cook with friends! There are ways to make it fun.

Now, we don’t always need to be surrounded by people. It’s important to take some alone time for simple things that make us happy. Like sitting with that morning cup of coffee.

Or taking a moment to breathe and center yourself with mindfulness or meditation. But the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which is a United Nations initiative, helps publish what’s called the World Happiness Report. It ranks each country by how happy its people are.

And it turns out that social connection is the most reliable predictor of which countries are the happiest. Online connection and conversations are important -- I see you, Nerdfighteria and my Internet Cousins -- but being around people IRL is important too! Sometimes you just need a hug.

And touch from another human -- when it’s welcome, obviously -- can build connection and trust, or even lower stress. So, if you can, try to meet up with some friends in person. Do something fun, like a happy hour after work or a walk in the park.

There are plenty of free community activities out there. Let’s face it, we can’t all afford fancy dinners every night. But remember: even if a plant gets the right amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients, it still won’t thrive if there’s lead in the soil.

So our environments really matter too. Work won’t always be stress-free. We all rush around when deadlines pop up or clients make last-minute changes.

And some careers are just higher-stress in general -- like if you’re a nurse or a first-year law student. But for the most part, if you’re working on the weekends, taking work home, or staying late and you’re not okay with it… it’s not good for you. And you don’t have to tolerate significant sources of stress like an abusive boss or an unfair power structure.

There’s bullying, which can be name-calling, yelling, or mean-spirited jokes. And sexual harassment is unfortunately more common than it should be -- it often goes unrecognized and is tough to deal with. But some sources of unhealthy work stress slip under the radar.

Like, you might have to deal with a micromanager who’s always looking over your shoulder, or a coworker who always talks down to you or interrupts you. Nobody really wants to hate their job. So it’s easy to convince ourselves that unhealthy or abusive behavior isn’t happening or affecting us.

And there’s normalization. If we’re in a situation long enough, it might seem normal because we can’t compare it to anything else. Normalization could apply to good or neutral things, like having free coffee in the morning.

But it also means you could end up in a bad spot without realizing it. To see what I mean, let’s go to the Thought Bubble. You’ve just been offered an associate position at a new consulting firm with better pay, better hours, and cooler clients than your current job.

But when you show up, you notice that something seems… off. You and your coworkers get along super well -- you do weekly trivia together, and even went to a renaissance fair one weekend. But your current boss is really nosy.

They don’t seem to like that everyone on the team is chummy, and they’re overly interested in your plans. They’ve practically cornered you at the water cooler to interrogate you about happy hour a couple times. They also ask leading questions to get you to gossip about your personal lives, like “Do you think Mark’s breakup is affecting his work?” And that’s... not cool.

The weirdest thing is that no one seems to see these red flags. Everyone on your team started there straight out of school, so your boss’s behavior seems normal to them. They haven’t had other bosses to compare to this one, but you have.

So now you’re the one who has to initiate a difficult conversation. You go to your coworkers and point out how weird it is that your boss is always there, peering over your desk like the “Kilroy was here” cartoon. And based on their shocked expressions… you’ve made your point.

Together, you go to HR and file a complaint about your boss’s behavior, and you hope it gets better over the next few weeks. But if it doesn’t, you resolve yourself to the fact that you might have to ask for a transfer or find a new job, even though you don’t necessarily want to. Thanks, Thought Bubble!

If you’re in a stressful situation, know that you deserve more and it can get better. Some stuff, like being talked over, can be handled with a direct conversation. For more abusive behavior, you may need to go to your HR department and report it.

If things get too out-of-control, or if you don’t see results, you may need to switch jobs. And I get it -- that seems unfair, because you have to save money, go through the job search process, and make big changes. Which aren’t easy.

But you can try thinking of a big change as an opportunity to move from a job to a career. Doing work that helps us achieve long-term goals will make us happier in the long run and help us avoid the emotional exhaustion of burnout. So check in with yourself and think about what you really value about the work you do.

When someone asks us, “Where do you work?” we want to answer proudly. For example, you may value the ability to make a contribution and to see your work make an impact on other people or the world. A lot of work might not produce a tangible impact right away, so you have to be patient.

Or if it does, it may be in a lower-paid sector, like a social enterprise or a nonprofit. Depending on your passions, it may be worth taking that risk. If you’re happiest when you’re learning new skills or new things in general, you might look at consulting or enrolling in a class.

But maybe you place more value on accomplishment. So you may look for a job where you have to master a skill over a long period of time, like an art or a sport. Or you might value the status of an organization.

Like, you may want to work for a famous brand like Google or Amazon, or an agency like NASA. Big-name companies usually mean big corporate structures. So, if you value power in your career, you might want to find a business where you can climb a corporate ladder.

Or maybe you really value a sense of community. So, you might want to look for a company that puts a lot of emphasis on social connections, collaboration, or teamwork. But a word of warning: don’t let your work be your only social life.

Work relationships often get into office politics, and most people need time and friendships outside of work to find balance. And if you want to have more control, or agency, over your work life, you might work for a smaller business where you have more influence. Finally, agency overlaps with autonomy.

If you want the freedom to do your own work, your own way, on your own schedule, you may want to try freelancing. I am. Or you could become an entrepreneur and start your own business -- we’ll have another Crash Course series for y’all soon.

Now, of course, most of us value more than one of these qualities. The difference is in what we prioritize. So whether you’re considering a career shift or a side-hustle, think about what matters to you.

Because in order to grow where you’re planted, you need to make sure you fully understand yourself. When you’re reflecting and researching, remember: Take care of yourself. You need sleep, good food, good people, and a little bit of exercise to thrive.

Every job has stress, but if you’re exhausted or in a toxic environment, it may be time for a change. It’s tricky, but finding work that aligns with your values can help you avoid burnout. Thanks so much for watching Crash Course Business: Soft Skills.

I’m glad we got to grow together over this series. It’s been fun. And I’ll see you on the internet somewhere.