Mental Health and Burnout at Work – Work in Sports Podcast

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Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

First things first – it’s Monday, time for the stat line…

[stat line]

If you need a reminder, the Stat line is when we jump into the data of the past week in sports industry employment — since WorkInSports.com is the number one job board for the sports industry and the industry leader since 1999 – we have lots of data. And we’re using it!

First — the total number of active jobs in the sports industry — we’re up to 16,350! That’s a lot of opportunities.

Just to put this in perspective, if you lived within 25 miles of Portland, Oregon, you’d discover there are 333 active sports jobs in your area. Pretty cool right? If you lived in Portland Maine, 33 active sports jobs — not as many, but just proving… WorkInSports is everywhere, and so are sports career opportunities. 

Side note – I love both Portlands. 

OK, next data point — the last 7 days we added 2,755 active sports jobs to our board — which is an average of …divide by 7, carry the — 393 jobs added each and every day. That’s a good reason to come look at our job board every day. 

 The top category of the week is…. media/creative! This area continues to thrive, lots and lots of jobs related to content. Seems like everyone nowadays is starting a podcast…so there is that too.

Ok, top three jobs of the week — my personal favs.

Revenue Operations Analyst with New England Sports Network — this is the business analyst job. 

Associate Director of Digital Engagement — San Antonio Spurs – two parts of this job really stood out:

  • Collaborate with a diverse group of internal partners across Content, Marketing, Broadcast, Game Operations, Global Partnerships, Sporting Operations, and Communications to grow our global digital audience and optimize organic digital content performance.
  • Enhance revenue-generating campaigns, and improve data-capture opportunities

LuLuLemon — VP of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity —

And that is the stat line!

Which dovetails beautifully into promoting our new series coming up this Wednesday and running through October… 

It’s called Moving Forward – we’ve brought together 12 young diverse sports career-focused professionals to discuss their experiences and perspectives growing in the sports industry.  

We’re talking about the sports industry through their eyes — is it representative? Do they feel included? How important is allyship? Having a voice inside an organization.  

These are young men and women who either are just breaking into the sports industry or aspire to. You will listen and think to yourself, wow, this is just like my experience, or you will be enlightened and awakened to the knowledge that your sports industry is quitedifferent than theirs. 

I’ve been awakened in these convrsaations and I’m a pretty eyes wide open guy… So please, listen with an open heart and mind. This is important and valuable content!

Alright let’s jump into today’s fan question — 

This fan question will remain anonymous because that is their request. I received this question as a private message on our facebook page, and I found it to be important enough to discuss with the broadeer audience — aka all of you.

“I’m dealing with some burnout right now at work. I enjoy my job but with everything going on in the world right now it’s hard working in minor league sports. I’m incredibly grateful to be employed but there hasn’t been much to work on the last several months making my motivation and interest lower than normal. I wanted to get the conversation started on how do other people deal with burnout in the workplace?”

Look, this is a great question and I’m glad to talk about it — I do want to point out, that no one should feel embarrassed or stigmatised by feeling burnout or depression. The fact this person wanted to stay anonymous means there is a concern that they would be judged by others — and that is sad and unfortunate.

I also want to stress I am not a doctor, or a mental health practicioner, so please if you are having issues with depression or any feeling that you just can’t seem to shake – talk to a professional.

Alright — so what does burnout look like? If you are feeling these emotions, you are likely dealing with burnout, and we’ll discuss some ideas to help you through it:

  • Exhaustion. Work-related stress can leave you so wiped out you feel like you can’t move a muscle.
  • Poor attitude. When you’re physically worn out, your attitude slips, too. Maybe you’re feeling cynical, indifferent or like your efforts are meaningless.
  • Depression. Even if it’s work – or, more specifically, COVID-19 – that’s stressing you out, it can seep into the other parts of your life and leave you depressed.
  • Irritability. This can be at work or at home, and can range from snapping at others to actual anger.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping. You’re exhausted, but when you lay down to rest, you cannot fall asleep.
  • Frequent headaches.
  • Stomachaches.

I’d like to remove some of the stigma of this conversation by admitting, I’ve dealt with burnout on multiple occasions during my career.

After 7 years at CNN/Sports Illustrated I jumped to Fox Sportss Northwest to be the News Director – learning an entire new market, hiring staff, doing layoffs at on point, thinking ahead building budgets, managing staff complaints, trying to build a culture — I was 28 years old, and managing 35 people. 

The problem with this is, I had no peers. The people my age were my staff. The people who were in management like me, were 5-10 years older than me with families and different experiences. 

I didn’t have people to talk to, bounce ideas off, lessen the burden. I felt overworked and underprepared for what the job entailed. I was not a happy dude. I was working 60-70 hours a week, and drinking a bottle of wine a night. 

Every one of the emotions I listed above, I felt. 

I remember driving up to Vancouver one weekend with my wife, who was competing in a field hockey tournament. I needed to get away, out of the country in fact, and shut everything off. I was so looking forward to it. 

Vancouver is beautiful, we were with friends, I was watching my wife compete, these wonderful grass fields, it was a super pure version of sports and I was engrossed….and then my phone rang about 20 times because there was breaking news with the Seattle Mariners and I needed to decide how we would cover it.  

The mood was lost. The recharge was broken. The frustration and irritability came rushing back. I was distracted and absent the rest of the weekend. 

This was burnout – I stopped feeling energized by my work and instead felt burdened. 

So, with that drama out of the way – let’s talk about some solutions or at least some tactics and strategies you can try to help yoursewlf through the challenges of burnout. 

And if I may suggest – a bottle of wine a night is not a good solution. Kind of fun, but doesn’t really solve the root problem.

1: Examine your standards and regimen outside of work: 

It can be easy to focus so much on work demands that you neglect the basics. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? Are you spending any time in nature? Do you moving anough? Are you staying connected with loved ones, either in person or via technology?

This was a covid struggle for me early on, I was locking myself behind my computer all day, and wasn’t taking enough breaks to walk around. It wan’t until I started literally scheduling walks with my kids, that things perked up for me. 

Nutrition is a big one too — I find during covid, and when I was starting to feel restless, the first thing i would do was open the refrigerator, not at great habit. 

2: Examine your current workload and workflow. 

I have personally found that during this time of Covid, one of themost effective uses of my time has been doing process analysis. Sound snoring but here’s what I mean, we all get very used to our work roles and conditions. We adapt to our inefficient processes and make them seem normal. BUT, if you take a step back sometimes you realize your workflow is ridiculously redundant, or you are recreating the same thing over and over again, or your overall process is flawed. 

I’ve gone back and recreated my guest booking process, my email outreach processes, my weekly scheduling processes. Everything, and that means I am working more effectively now than i was 9 months ago — which frees up time for me to walk around the yard, or down the street for a bit. 

So ask yourself, in what areas of work do you feel most overloaded?  Is it all over or with specific tasks? Are there areas in your workflow where you want more control and flexibility? Can you come up with possible solutions for any of these concerns?

Making your tasks more efficient, can free up time and make your feel more accomplished — checking the box has some massive endorphin releases. 

3: Consider scheduling a meeting with your boss/supervisor. 

I’m not suggesting you play the squeaky wheel here, but discussing your workflow with them, and presenting other ways you can help drive the business is effective.

Let’s say part of your burnout comes from boredom. Reasonable. You don’t want to complain because you are happy to have a job, but beeing mentally unchalleneged is killing you.

Well, come up with ideas you can present your boss that can help drive the business forward and take no budget. No budget is important here – your boss isn’t likely going to invest budget in a new ad campaign on Facebook, but if you come up with some creative ideas to generate buzz and or organic traffic, with no expense – that can b invigorating and present you in a great light. Just remember to stay in your lane, don’t try and take someone else’s job – be creative in the role you have!

4: Set healthy limits for yourself. You should be able to “switch off” when you leave work for the day to avoid the potential overload and exhaustion that can result when your professional and personal lives collide.

I really like to set a daily, reasonable, goal. It may just be three things i want to get done, and if I hit those three things – i tell myself, today was successful. Give yourself healthy limits. The problem with covid work, is that with so many of us at home, we blur the line between work and home… at 8pm you shouldn’t be just checking your work email. You should b watching monday night football.

Know when to turn it off.

5: Make time for “mini mindful breaks” throughout the day. Even brief moments of respite throughout the day can be beneficial. Consider ways you can use this time — taking a short walk, reading your favorite blog, deep breathing, or stretching.

6: Seek support. Talk to people!! About stuff other than work, politics, and COVID. Seriously, I listened to a podcast about a serial killer last week during a walk, and I laughed at myself because I felt less stressed listening to the mind of a serial killer than I do thinking about our current political standing, pandemic, and record unemployment numbers and a tanking economy. Listening to a serial killer was a good break! Consider talking with trusted coworkers, friends, and loved ones for support. They might be able to help you sort through your emotions and organize your thoughts. 

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

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