Career coach Beatrice Zornek explores ways to avoid burnout and thrive in a career that works for you as a highly sensitive person
Career coach Beatrice Zornek is passionate about supporting highly sensitive people (HSPs) to understand and embrace their needs in order to excel in their chosen career and life choices. She’s particularly motivated after difficult career experiences as a HSP herself, which led to burnout.
“I spent a long time in my career as a HSP trying to be someone that I wasn’t and trying to deny that I was sensitive,” Beatrice explains on Happiful’s podcast. “I was trying to overcome and compensate for what I perceived to be my weaknesses in order to be more in line with other people.
“Unfortunately for me, this was a very difficult lesson in my career because I reached a high level of success and was really proud of what I was doing but I was denying who I was as a person and ended up burning out. And burnout is a risk for highly sensitive people which is why I feel so passionately about working with HSPs because I can see that in hindsight I could have avoided those things.”
The first step as a HSP, Beatrice shares, is getting to know yourself. “Even though there are things that all HSPs have in common, we need to take into account the individual. It’s important to look at how it manifests for you, what are your unique struggles and strengths which are often linked. If we get to know ourselves on a deeper level, then we allow all those parts to exist - because they do already exist - but we’re often trying to overcome or compensate for them.”
Beatrice shares that her personal self-exploration was transformational and provided some clarity for her future career choices. “It’s been a beautiful journey to get to know myself but it's also been difficult to understand that I don’t feel I’m personally wired to work a nine to five job. That’s been a very difficult admission for me but, once I realised and was able to accept that, then I was able to design my life in a way that works with my trait rather than against my trait.”
While it’s not the case that all HSPs are unsuited to nine to five jobs, Beatrice suggests appraising how this schedule impacts you and what boundaries can be put in place to avoid burnout, or overwhelm - one of the key traits for a HSP.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that we’re not designed to work in nine to five jobs but I will say it’s less of a natural environment for us. If we do work nine to five then we need to be extra mindful of the impact this can have on us. We’re wired to process things much more deeply, which means we need a lot more time for that processing to take place.
“Some people might think that’s a weakness but, actually, this is where the real wisdom comes for HSPs. This is where and how you integrate information and it’s how you speak from the heart, are able to make a real impact and do meaningful work.”
The importance of self-care
Self-care is a major part of any HSP's plan for avoiding burnout and thriving in their work and day-to-day life. Again, individuality is key, as Beatrice explains, so try to understand what might work best for you and your circumstances.
“This might include having space to read a book, meditate, listen to music or go for a walk. Many HSPs feel very connected to nature and can recharge in this environment. These self-care acts tend to function on a more symptomatic level, so if you’re overstimulated, spending time in nature can be hugely beneficial. Alternatively, making time for rest by closing the shutters, staying in a dark room and cosying up on the sofa with a blanket.
“And then there are much deeper things that we can do, as it’s one thing to constantly have to address the symptoms and, by symptoms, I mean tiredness and the rumination that comes with overthinking. We spend a lot of time with many, many thoughts in our brains, so having a moment of disconnection, pause and stillness can be really valuable but then working at a deeper level and understanding why this is happening in the first place is important too.”
This is where working with a coach who specialises in HSP can be hugely beneficial. “If you want to understand yourself as a person and how you can work with your unique circumstance, then I’d really recommend working with someone on a one-to-one basis,” Beatrice notes. “You can get to know yourself in a much deeper and more intimate way.”
The Highly Sensitive Person from Dr Elaine Aaron
Lead photo by Marcus Aurelius