47: How to avoid burnout and still accomplish your goals with Dr Portia Jackson

With a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural and Social Anthropology, with a minor in Spanish, from Stanford University, a Masters of Public Health from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and a Doctorate of Public Health from UCLA, it is safe to say that Dr. Portia Jackson has certainly worked hard! She has coaching, speaking, teaching, and public health experience all under her belt. Dr. Jackson is currently an Assistant Professor at Cal State LA and teaches classes about burnout, self-care, and resilience in professionals of color.

Dr. Jackson grew up working very hard and knew from the age of 5 that she was going to be a doctor. In high school, she was taking summer chemistry courses and ended up starting college at 16. She finished college at 20 years old and couldn’t even get into the bars when she started her graduate degree! Within a few weeks of finishing her doctorate at UCLA, she had been diagnosed with a chronic illness. She continued to have health problems and had a blood clot at the age of 30 and ended up on disability leave. She didn’t realize that the path she was on was leading her towards destruction and burnout. She decided she wanted to do something else, but couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It finally hit her that she should coach people on burnout! She was able to relate to people rather than just teach them. Along the way, Dr. Jackson was also adjunct teaching at multiple Universities! Her goal was to be available to her students so she shifted her coaching practice into more of a speaking role; doing speaking engagements and lectures. 

How did you find a successful balance?...10:10
Dr. Jackson is very careful as to what she says yes to. She pulls back the amount of time she gives to certain subjects if she feels as though they are big stressors. ‘Time-boxing’ is a method she has found helps her. She will allocate a specific amount of time to each project she is working on. If it is something that somebody else does well, she will pass it along. The relationship she has with her family is first on her list. Without that precious family time, everything seems off balanced. 

What are the essential components to a balanced life?...13:45
Sleep! If you aren’t sleeping you will not have endurance, stamina, and resilience that are needed to fuel a busy life. Having a routine that positions you to get good sleep is important. Proper stress management and nutrition are key as well. Dr. Jackson takes time to do hot yoga 3x a week. She is also a big fan of food prep; going to the grocery store once a week to get all they need. Journaling, planning your week ahead, and organizing your priorities are helpful to make the week flow smoother. It is important to practice balance and not status. No one is practicing all of these things perfectly! It is okay to allow yourself to be human. 

Dr. Jackson’s Routine?...18:50
Somedays, Dr. Jackson is out of her house at 5:40am! Other days, she enjoys to have a more relaxing day, especially after a 14-16 hour day. She needs this occasional relaxing morning to recover from the previous long day. Before bed she takes time to review her journal, look at what she wants to accomplish, and do a devotional. She personally likes to take melatonin to get a deep night’s sleep. This allows her to wake up feeling ready to tackle the day’s activities! It’s important to have some down time after hard work, but it is also important to take time to work on any long-term goals that you set. 

Advice for the busy person...22:45
Take a deep breath to hear yourself and tune out the rest of the world. Remember your why. If you are doing too much, what is the one thing that if you did it, your life would be most different? Be willing to step back and evaluate where you will be most impactful. Saying no is sometimes the only way to say yes to yourself. 


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