Episode 192 | How Beat Burnout And Find Balance | Melo Calarco

How to beat the beast of burnout and find balance in your life


Sadly, the beast of burnout is one of the most relevant topics of our time.

If you are not feeling the effects of burnout yourself, chances are you know someone who is.

It’s important we are able to recognise the signs and understand what we can do to prevent it reaching a crisis point in our life.

In this crazy modern world we’ve created for ourselves – lightening paced work environments, increasingly complex social obligations and our ubiquitous consumption of information – the old homo sapiens brain often struggles to find balance.

We need to stay vigilant. We must be aware of the signs and understand the potential impacts. Most importantly, we need to know what steps we can take to ensure we beat the beast of burnout.

Lessons Learned

Melo Calarco’s mission is to help as many people as possible prevent burnout and find balance in their life.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a word that gets thrown around a lot. ‘Burnout’ is often confused with ‘stress’.

Stress and overwhelm can lead to burnout.

Stress comes when things are busy, you’re under the pump etc. But usually with a few good night’s sleep and a return to normality in the workplace, the stress eases and your mindset can return to normal.

Burnout is not like that. You can sleep all you like, eat well etc – but your mindset doesn’t return to normal. You can’t regain your energy.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have revised the term ‘burnout’ a number of times in the past decade. In 2019 they identified 3 signs of burnout resulting from unmanaged workplace stress:

  1. Fatigue, exhaustion, feeling depleted
  2. Feeling disconnected from yourself, your work and the people around you
  3. Lack of efficacy and efficiency in the work you do

Is this a growing problem or do we just hear about it more?

Most of us don’t have to look far to find someone who is burning out or suffering poor mental health.

The pandemic definitely shined a light on burnout as a social issue.

It was there already, and has been growing over the past few decades, but COVID brought it to the surface like never before.

Our fast moving pace of life is the main driver of increased burnout. We are always on, always accessible, always connected. 

We never switch off.

Prevention is better than a cure

Like so many problems, identifying the dangers and signs of burnout and knowing how to manage them is better than finding a cure once we have been whacked by the beast of burnout.

‘Most people don’t realise they are burning out until it’s too late’

90% of the people Melo works with didn’t realise they were burning out until they had some sort of crisis – like a panic attack.

The remaining 10% knew something was happening to them and their emotions, but they didn’t have the tool to deal with it. So they kept pushing on.

There are three areas in which we can recognise the signs of burnout:

  1. Physical – feeling drained, headaches, migraine, stomach mains, tightness through the body
  2. Emotional – feeling overwhelmed, undervalued, a lack of self worth 
  3. Behavioural – withdrawal from interactions and responsibilities, disconnecting from family and friends, self medicating with alcohol, prescription or recreational drugs

Why do we humans do this to ourselves?

I have asked a lot of guests this question on the Team Guru Podcast – and will continue to do so.

‘We live in an amazing time, but choose to put ourselves under increasing pressure to the point a lot of us are simply not enjoying life. Why do we do it?’

Melo’s answer:

Because humans like progress. We like to feel like we’re developing, growing and learning. But some of us just don’t know the limit to that. We just keep striving.

One of the first stages of burnout is working really hard to prove ourself and everything else in our life is compromised by that pursuit. 

We have a driving desire to keep moving and pushing to keep up with this pace.

We must create some space, some downtime, to balance our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

What role can mindfulness play in our battle with burnout?

Mindfulness underpins a lot of Melo’s work.

He gets a huge buzz by getting skeptics to try and experience the benefits of mindfulness.

Mindfulness has two primary pillars:

  1. Self-awareness.

Mindfulness is simply self-awareness.

You can’t change what you don’t notice and mindfulness helps us become more aware of who we are inside and out. It helps us identify some of the buttons that are pushed through the course of our day. It helps us become more aware of our energy – helping us identify when we need a little break to recharge and connect with who we are as a person.

2. Self-regulate.

Mindfulness helps us with our ability to self-regulate. It gives us the ability to recognise when we need to stop and take a few breaths (physically or metaphorically) to self-regulate the nervous system, to de-activate the amygdala and activate the prefrontal cortex.

Self-regulation is the ability to create space between stimulus and response.

What role can mindfulness play in your life?

It’s important not to overcomplicate what should be a simple practice.

There are two ways to practise mindfulness:

  1. The formal practice: stopping, doing some breath work, connecting with the body and the breath. You might use and app to guide you.
  2. The non-formal practice: doing all those things that you do in the day, but doing them mindfully. e.g. showering, walking, brushing your teeth. All those things we often do on auto pilot we can shift to doing them mindfully. The reason that is so powerful is because when your mind is on task we are at our happiest. Train yourself to be in the present.

Be present

Being present is so fundamental to happiness and success, it is advice that we hear so often, it’s easy to look past it.

It reminds me of the advice I received as a kid, playing a lot of sport – ‘watch the ball’.

Watching the ball is so fundamental to success in any ball sport, and we hear it from every coach that we’ve ever had – we can almost let those words wash over us and forget about their importance.

Being present is the ‘watch the ball’ equivalent for life.

Gold nuggets

What can we do to beat burnout and find balance in our life?

  1. Catch yourself – when you’re trying to move too fast and do too much. And then do something about it.
  2. Give yourself permission to stop. Have renewal breaks across the day. Nothing – not that report, the meeting preparation, getting your child to football training on time – none of it is worth your mental health. You’ve got to give yourself permission to stop and find some balance.
  3. Be diligent of your self-care. Rest, nutrition. Positive social connections. Exercise. Burnout is the cumulative effect of a lack of self-care.

Own the beginning of your day. The first thing you do in your day is for yourself, not for anyone else.

Ask yourself this question every single day. What have I done for me today? What have I done that is just for me?


Connect with Melo:

Melo Calarco is a renowned mindfulness and performance coach who teaches others how to stay energised, perform their best, and conquer burnout. 

  •  https://melocalarco.com/about-us/ 
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melo-calarco/ 


Connect with David: 

David Frizzell on Linkedin

David Frizzell on Twitter

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Team Guru Podcast.

Help us rank as the #1 Australian Business Podcast on Apple by leaving a review for us.

Feel free to contact us, connect on Twitter, Linkedin and subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud!

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Team Guru Podcast.

Help us rank as the #1 Australian Business Podcast on Apple by leaving a review for us.

Feel free to contact us, connect on Twitter, Linkedin and subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud!

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