HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– Learning to thrive at work and in life, especially in the midst of a new operating environment, was the theme of an Aug. 19 virtual mentoring event hosted by three systems commands, including NAVAIR.

The event included remarks from Dr. Susan Biali Haas, an award-winning medical doctor known for her focus on mental health, burnout, wellness and resiliency, as well as a mentoring panel of senior leaders from NAVAIR, NAVWAR and NAVSEA.

“Whether you’re feeling positive or stressed about returning to the workplace, you’re in good company,” Haas said. “I want to emphasize ‘you’ve got this.’ You can surely successfully manage whatever it is you’re facing right now. Adversity very strongly breeds resilience.”

Haas focused specifically on how to combat burnout in the workplace. Burnout is characterized by feeling emotionally exhausted, becoming cynical or withdrawn from your work and accomplishing less or working less effectively.

In addition to getting enough sleep, exercising and practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, her other tips included:

  • Plan your workload based on the mental energy required and how much uninterrupted time you may need to complete it.
  • Prioritize your work to complete the hardest or most important task first.
  • Delegate tasks.
  • Say “no,” and not just to things you don’t want to do.
  • Let go of perfectionism.

For those teleworking, she suggested the following:

  • Wear specific clothes while you telework.
  • Stop work at a fixed time or work in fixed blocks.
  • Put “do not disturb” on your phone to limit daytime personal texts/calls.
  • Set boundaries regarding when you will stop checking email (for example, after 7 p.m. or on weekends, etc.).
  • If you have family at home, reserve time over lunch to have personal conversations.
  • Be fully present with your family, and be fully present at work.  

The leadership panel echoed Haas’ remarks.

Regarding work-life balance, Amy Weisman, counsel at NAVWAR, advised prioritizing something you love. “We all get consumed with the job,” she said, “and we put other things on hold. Prioritize things that bring you joy. Find something you love, and make that a priority in your life. It will make you a better employee and a better person.” 

Tom Rudowsky, NAVAIR deputy program executive officer, Tactical Aircraft Systems, touched on the new operating environment at the different systems commands.

“I think the next year is really experimentation on the right balance for a new normal,” he said. “Invite people to be more inclusive and bring folks in. Set an environment of expectations for everyone to contribute.” 

Established in 2007, NAVAIR’s Mentoring Program provides a flexible, dynamic, cross-functional approach to forming mentoring partnerships. The program offers resources, a guidebook, training, events such as speed and group mentoring, and the online iMentor tool to match mentors with mentees.

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