Burning out or perhaps burnt out?

Burning out or perhaps burnt out?

As part of acknowledging and participating in RUOK Day this year, the PrimeAdvisory team recently enjoyed a presentation from Wellness Coach, Dr Leanne Wall.  Dr Wall shared how to recognise when either ourselves or a fellow team member might not be ok.  Burning out is common among high-performers and can lead to anxiety and depression. In addition to presenting to our team, Dr Wall has kindly shared the article below to help us and our clients recognise and prevent burn-out to ensure we take care of our mental wellbeing. 

Today I met with my lovely client who has been juggling two fulltime senior roles for the last twelve months.  When the re-structure occurred, she was promised more resources and a level of team competency that would enable her to delegate.  Fast track 12 months and neither promise has been kept.  The organisation remains on a headcount freeze, and she is exhausted to the extent that I am worried about her physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.  She tells me her hair has been falling out for at least 6 months now and her skin has a chronic rash that flares up from week to week.  The sparkle in her eyes is gone, and her body oozes fatigue.  She was meant to talk to her boss a few weeks ago; however, equally busy, he appears disconnected from his team.  To say that my client is burnt out is an understatement.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has redefined burnout as a syndrome linked to long-term work stress.  Today burnout is a global phenomenon and according to the WHO comprises three elements: an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion, becoming detached from one’s job and a drop-in performance at work.

RUOK coffee cups each filled with $10 so staff members can take a colleague for a coffee and a chat
PrimeAdvisory’s special RUOK morning tea

So how can you tell if you are close to burnt-out?  Not quite there but almost? Because wouldn’t you agree to be waiting until you are already entirely burned out before you do something about it makes no sense at all. Let’s face it for any other illness you wouldn’t wait until it is too late.

“A lot of the signs and symptoms of pre-burnout would be very similar to depression,” says Siobhán Murray, a psychotherapist, based in County Dublin, Ireland, and the author of a book about burnout, The Burnout Solution. Murray suggests taking note of bad habits that are becoming the norm, such as increased alcohol consumption and relying on high sugar, fat and salty foods to get you through the day.  Not to mention feelings of tiredness that won’t go away no matter how much you sleep. “So that even if you do sleep well, by 10 in the morning, you’re already counting down the hours to bed. Or not having the energy to exercise or go for a walk.” As soon as you feel this way, go and see a doctor who can distinguish between the two, because burnout is still best dealt with by making lifestyle changes, while depression requires a different approach.

Wellness Coach, Dr Leanne Wall sharing the signs that might indicate someone is not ok

Overwhelming Exhaustion

So how do you figure out whether you are just having one of those hideously stressful months or are on the cusp of burnout?  Stress in manageable doses can make us perform at our peak; however, it is stress with no recuperation that can turn into burnout.  In his book Why Zebras don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky says that our primitive stress response (aka our fight or flight response) was never designed to be switched on 24/7, instead only used in short bursts to get us out of danger.  The problem is that the threat we perceive today versus the danger when we were cavemen is vastly different.

Further, with our well-developed brains, humans don’t need a physical crisis to switch on their stress response but can do so by merely thinking about something that may go wrong, that hasn’t even happened and may never happen.  The impact of this on our body is enormous and can push us towards burnout.  If you find you are continually feeling exhausted and your energy reserves are at an all-time low, you need to take action and get some professional advice.

Cynicism Towards your Work

Feeling like your work has little value, saying no to socialising and becoming more sensitive to disappointments is another classic sign you may be inching towards burnout. “Someone on the brink will probably begin to feel emotionally numbed or mentally distant,” says Jacky Francis Walker, a psychotherapist based in London who specialises in burnout. “Like they can’t engage as much in the ordinary things of life.”

Reduced work performance

Walker also stresses looking for the third sign of burnout, which is the nagging feeling that the quality of your work is starting to slide. “People say ‘but this isn’t me!’, ‘I’m not like this’, ‘I can usually do x,y and z’. But obviously if they are in a state of physical depletion, then they aren’t in their normal range of capabilities,” says Walker.

For those scientists amongst us who find these symptoms a little too vague, have a look at the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), a test which measures burnout.   The MBI-General survey is the most widely used, and measures exhaustion, cynicism, and how well you think you are doing at work.  Although this survey is generally used to diagnose burnout, it can be used to assess if you are getting close.

You’re pre-burnout: What’s next?

If ignored, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance. So, catch and combat it early and here are some ways of how.

Serious Relaxation

Whether it be meditation, listening to music, reading a book or magazine, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, genuinely think about what you need to do to relax, and schedule it in your day to ensure you make time for it.

Cultivate a Life Outside of Work

Find a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community, something that doesn’t involve work and that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going.  Where you can unwind and enjoy the moment.

Unplug that Device

While communication technology can promote productivity and ensure that we remain on top of things at work, it can also allow these stressors to permeate into family time, holidays and social activities. Be firm in setting boundaries by allocating certain times to check email at home and by turning your mobile off at dinner or not taking it to bed with you.

Sleep, Sleep, and more Sleep

Research suggests that fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a significant risk factor for burnout.  Poor sleep can negatively affect your job performance and productivity.  It can lead to fatigue, decreased motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leaves you more prone to making mistakes and makes it harder to juggle competing demands. We have also seen the reverse in that sleep improves memory and helps you better regulate your emotions.  Nothing like a sleepless night to make you cranky the next day.

Organise Your Life

People who are burnt out often spend time worrying that they will forget to action something or that something important will slip their mind. Get organised, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) and then decide what needs to be tackled first. That way, you don’t have to wake up at 4am in the morning with a long to-do list running through your head.  You know you have systems in place to remind you.

Tune In To Your Body

There are important physical signs that may indicate that you might be under too much stress: an increase in headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. You must stay tuned into how your body is feeling.  We know from research that when it comes to mental health, burnout can affect depression, and if you’re depressed, it can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways.  So, if the challenges you are tackling are severe and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a doctor or psychologist to get help as support from your family and friends may not be enough.

Is it Me or Is it Them? 

Burnout is sometimes a symptom of external factors like work.  In the first instance, make sure it is not because of an internal factor that you need to address.  You should ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can work out what causes your stress, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well.

Some burnout really is work-related.  Cutting costs by hiring freezes, layoffs, cutting work hours can cause massive stress in the system.  Owning your own business and having the responsibility of employees on your shoulders can create huge pressure.  There are often two components that contribute to burnout: too many demands and too few resources.  Assess if it is time to move on, figure out whether your role is a mismatch between what you need and what you are getting from working in that particular business.

When is Enough, Really Enough?

If you have tried everything within your power to make changes at work; however, the organisation is not willing to meet you halfway, is it time to move on?  Talk to your manager or HR about access to counselling services, mental health benefits or stress management training. Perhaps it is about improving communication and creating a better work environment. Emphasise how those cultural shifts will enable you to continue to serve the company and become an even better employee.

At the end of the day, life is not a dress rehearsal!  And if we are not living the life we want because we are exhausted, not connecting with the people that we love because we can’t face another conversation at the end of the day and not liking ourselves for the way we show up in our life every day, then do something about it.

I ask my client in a concerned voice ‘How long are you going to do this for?” She says quietly “I am done!” On the one hand, I feel a sense of relief for her but on the other hand I think “What a damn shame, for her career, her team and the organisation.”  She has a meeting with her boss tomorrow, confirmed in the diary.  She plans to lay out the ultimatum of ‘Keep your promises, or I am gone.’  I hope for her sake, she does.

Dr Leanne Wall is a Wellness Coach with over two decades of hands-on leadership experience in the corporate healthcare industry in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific.

Leanne has first-hand knowledge of the significant work pressures we can sometimes face working in a fast-paced corporate environment and through her personal experience of burnout in her career, understands the critical importance of managing work-related stress in a timely and effective way and knowing when to ask for help.

Leanne is passionate about increasing awareness of the importance of proactively and deliberately focusing on our health (mentally, physically and emotionally) and that this responsibility lies not only with the individual but at all levels of an organisation.

Leanne focuses on empowering managers with the knowledge, skills and resources to be great role models for managing their own stress and creating a psychologically safe work environment where team members feel comfortable to raise their hands if they are struggling.

With authenticity and humour, Leanne uses her medical and counselling background, together with neuroscience and evidence-based research to generate crisp insights into the acute stress response and how this can help and hinder our performance, both in our professional and personal lives.

Leanne can be contacted via email at leanne1wall@gmail.com


Read More
Why people who set goals do better financially?

Why people who set goals do better financially?

As we move into the new financial year it is the perfect time to evaluate how you are tracking against the goals you set at the beginning of the year.

What were you saving for?

  • A holiday like 53% of Australians
  • Building your rainy day fund with 46% of Australians
  • Or with 40% of Australians saving to buy or renovate a home

How have you tracked with this goal? Are you any closer to having the financial structures and plans in place to achieve what you want in life? Or are you struggling?

You are not alone…

  • 41% of people incur unexpected expenses or change in financial circumstances
  • 27% experience a lack of willpower
  • 17% set an unachievable goal

So, what’s the trick?

It’s as simple as understanding the importance of goal setting. Without a goal, there’s nothing to work towards. Like a game of darts without a dartboard, where do you aim? The real question is where do you want to go, what’s your ‘why’?

By having a goal, research tells us you reap further benefits such as; increased performance, happiness, focus, energy, strength and success.

Long term goals allow you to understand your big picture, helps you to set small goals in order to reach that big goal. Short term goals set you up for success achieving regular wins and keeping you motivated giving you the ability to quickly know if you are on track or not.

So, set a goal, make your dartboard and let’s hit the bull’s eye!

If you don’t have any goals or are struggling to achieve the ones you previously set, let’s talk. At PrimeAdvisory our ‘why’ is to keep you on track!

References: ASIC MoneySmart

Source: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/saving/how-australians-save-money

Read More
What you should be doing now to take advantage of record-low interest rates

What you should be doing now to take advantage of record-low interest rates

Home loan interest rates in Australia are currently at all-time lows and they may go even lower.

Rates are dropping because the Reserve Bank has cut the cash rate not once but twice, lowering costs for banks. In response, many lenders have announced cuts to their variable rate home loans.

These record low rates are great news for people who currently have mortgages or those intending to get a mortgage.  Unfortunately for those relying on bank interest from savings the news is not that good.

Here’s 4 ways you can make the most of the low mortgage rates.

  1. Don’t change anything

Doing nothing only makes sense if you have a variable rate mortgage and your lender is passing on the cash rate cut. You’re fortunate if this is the case because you’ll already be enjoying lower repayments without you having to do anything.

However, you still might want to consider the following options.

  1. Compare your rate and if you should refinance to a lower one

Even if your lender has passed on the rate cut it makes sense to compare your rate with what else is in the marketplace. With literally hundreds of lenders and thousands of mortgage products available you should at least be checking and keeping your bank honest.

Switching to a lower rate mortgage on the right terms could save you a considerable amount of money.  If you have a look at the marketplace now, some lenders are offering rates in the low 3.0% range.

To get a sense of just how low rates are right now you can check out our monthly lowest mortgage rates page.

  1. Make extra repayments with your lower rate savings

When your rate is reduced you benefit from lower minimum required monthly mortgage repayments. To maximise the benefit simply keep making the same monthly repayments as you were prior to your rate being reduced. The difference between what you need to pay vs what you pay if you maintain repayments will result in you paying back your loan faster and reducing your overall interest expense.

Let’s use an example to demonstrate how the extra repayments work. Say you borrowed $450,000 over 30 years @ 3.89% p.a.

  • Monthly repayments = $2,119

If your lender passed on the last two cash rate cut’s your rate would fall to 3.39% p.a.

  • Monthly repayments at 3.39% = $1,993

The interest you will save is $29,440 and you will be mortgage free two years and 11 months sooner.  How good is that.

  1. Accumulate savings to account for possible rate rises in the future

What goes down will inevitably go up.  Mortgages are usually repaid over a long time which would include different economic cycles. Despite current low rates, you should expect them to rise at some stage in the future. This means your repayments will rise too.

While rates are low you can use your savings from your lower repayments to build up a cash buffer to use if you need to cover higher repayments in the future. There are at two ways you can do this:

  1. Redraw

If your loan allows for extra repayments and has a redraw facility then you could follow the extra repayment strategy from tip 3 and then redraw the money if you need it later. Note that some lenders have restrictions on how much or how often you can redraw.

  1. Offset account

If your loan has an offset account you can simply add the savings to the offset and they’ll act like extra repayments, effectively helping you pay less interest. But if you need to cover higher repayments in the future you have access to the funds.

Contact your PrimeAdvisory Accountant or Financial Advisor to discuss how you can take advantage of the currently low interest rates to stay on-track.

Read More
Why Your Insurance Premiums Could Skyrocket!

Why Your Insurance Premiums Could Skyrocket!

As you may be aware, from 1 July 2019, new ‘Protecting Your Super’ laws came into effect. They were brought in to ensure that super account balances are not being unnecessarily eroded by fees and insurance premiums, particularly for accounts that have a low balance or have been inactive for a certain period. One of these measures relates to automatic cancellation of insurance cover for inactive super accounts and this is triggered if there have been no contributions for 16 consecutive months unless the member ‘opts in’ to keep the insurance.  Forefront in the government’s mind in making these changes were younger people who had yet to consolidate several superfunds opened during their fledgling careers and who also potentially were less likely to require insurance cover at that time.

These changes will have enormous flow on effects for the premiums of those with insurances remaining within the superfund environment. Insurance, fundamentally, is a risk pool – a large group of individuals that allows the higher costs of the less healthy to be subsidised by the relatively lesser costs of the healthy. This fundamental principle will be impacted greatly by these sweeping super laws. As mentioned earlier, a significant proportion of the automatic cancellations will be those younger people who hadn’t consolidated multiple funds. These premiums represent a significant chunk of the healthy ‘subsidisers’ and that means that superfunds will be forced to increase premiums to ensure that their total book remains viable.

We are already seeing corporate, retail and industry superfunds make substantial increases to premiums – see the example below from an industry fund,


Cover Type Payout Amount Premium p.a. now Premium p.a.  after 1st August 2019 % increase
Life Cover $2,068,438 $1,551.33 $2,876.16 85%
Total & Permanent Disability $2,068,438 $1,572.01 $3,366.18 114%


The great concern is that for many people, insurance inside super remains out of sight and mind. These increases to insurance premiums must be duly considered and can no longer be ignored. MBS Insurance are our in-house insurance broking division and have access to every insurer in the market. We encourage all clients to conduct a review of their existing cover to ensure that it is both competitive and appropriate to their circumstances.

Simply send your PrimeAdvisory Accountant or Financial Advisor a copy of your latest super statement for MBS Insurance  to provide a one-page review for your peace of mind.

Read More
It’s the teamwork that makes the dream work

It’s the teamwork that makes the dream work

June and July are pretty big months for everyone at PrimeAdvisory.  It’s peak season for all of our team, working together using great teamwork to assist our clients with their end of financial year tax, accounting and planning for the next financial year.

Celebrating our milestones and achievements is something we do consistently and that we place great importance on as outlined in our recent blog about Quarterly Themes. One of the biggest celebrations on the Calendar is our End of Financial Year celebration.

Having achieved our targets for the quarter and year, our team recently enjoyed a lunch at the famous Bar Reggio in Surry Hills and then followed it with an afternoon at Cork & Canvas.


PrimeAdvisory does Pizza and Pasta at Bar Reggio in Surry Hills

Each team member had the opportunity to paint an abstract portrait of a colleague, guided by an artist in residence. It’s surprising how creative us financial types can get when we are allowed to drink wine and paint at the same time!


Angus and Michelle prepping for the painting


Sue showing some artistic talent with her portrait of Mark Kelly


Yvette with her work in progress


Who knew Mark Greenwood was so handy with a paint brush!

Following a couple of creative hours, the whole team where surprised by everyone’s creative and artistic interpretations of each other.

Cork and Canvas did a great job of guiding the team and subsequently shipped the artworks backed to our office.  We then ran our own version of The Archibald and voted on the best overall and best likeness.

When you are next at the PrimeAdvisory office you can peruse the artworks on display and be impressed by how creative we are.

Read More


For our free e-newsletter


For our free e-newsletter