Work burnout has been REAL and I am currently navigating to get out of it to the best of my abilities. I would spend the Spring season very upbeat and keeping high energy until the Garden Center slows down mid summer leading up to the Fall Season. When foot traffic slows down because people are going away for summer vacation, my energy drags and the days seem longer. I have been spending my work hours watering my nursery stock, dead heading plants, fertilizing plants, and trying to keep cool during the hotter days. These tasks are very monotonous!
I planned on focusing on enriching my mind during the slow season. I had plans to develop new areas of knowledges applied to Ethnobotany. My yearning to learn more did not go the way I planned. Whether it was learning about Chinese Culture through Harvard or looking into to take a Medicinal Plant class through Cornell, I had this mental fog where I could not focus and apply myself to learn this new skill due to burnout.
I felt stuck, not the type of stuck where I wanted a new job. I love my job and I certainly love what I do. I felt stuck in away where I would just come home from work agitated because my tasks were just the same as the day before. My ability to be productive has slowed down, my attitude with customers changed, and I had no self satisfaction in completing goals. I felt like I was treading in deep waters just to stay upbeat at work. I talk so gloomy about this experience because I need to share how to recognize the signs of burnout, how important it is to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, and how to combat them to move forward - especially in a work place that you love being at.
Some of the top signs of burnout is feeing the lack of satisfaction when completing a task, dragging yourself to get motivated, becoming irritable around coworkers or customers, and lack of energy of being productive. I felt every sign in the work place this past month. One of my boss’s viewpoints is to feel good after completing a task or completing a task from A to Z. When I got a compliment on how good my nursery looked for the time of the year, I just felt not satisfied with the work that I did. I definitely did not complete tasks A to Z either. Each task dragged especially on hot days. Things that I was supposed to do - like text an Instagram post to the company’s social media manager never got created because the desire was not there. Price tags did not get put up on new displays that I created. Everything I wanted to do was not created with excitement. I was dragging. My actions were dragging as well as my social skills. I have some of the best customers in the world; but I sure did not want to interact with them. I have been getting irritated so easily with questions or being broken away from a task. I have been getting irritated with interacting with my new coworkers, who I have the responsibility to train when needed. I knew I was having issues with my lack of productivity not just at work but with what I am creating for my website and social media.
To combat all of this in the now moment, you need to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. I believe both areas are intertwined with each other and there is not a cookie cutter method as a fix all. As complex individuals that we are, we are going to have our own ways to get over these hurdles. For me, I enjoy listening to music and reading poetry to disconnect from the world and where I can connect with myself. Some people may play an instrument, work out, read a book or even paint to center themselves to take a mental break. The possibilities to find or discover ways to take a mental step back are endless. Also, remembering to fulfill our needs include eating good, healthy food and drinking water. What we put into our body is a huge determination on how we are going to feel as well. Sometimes disconnecting from the world (this includes social media) and taking a break for a moment during the day can aid in both emotional and mental health. Treating yourself and taking care of yourself is extremely important. When we take care of our needs, we can take care of others around us a little bit better instead of pushing ourselves to meet others’ needs fully.
Sometimes in the moment it feels as if we cannot move forward from this. These feelings and outlook are temporary. Over time there is a light at the end of the gloomy tunnel but proper management will help you to get out of this self funk. With Summer rolling into Fall time, things are picking up and changing at my garden center. My outlook is changing. New products are coming in as well as new plants. This helps my mind reset itself because we are entering a new season at work.
Thank you for reading my post on dealing with work burnout. Take time for yourself is a very important thing to do when we start to feel as if we are getting burnt out in all occupations. How do you combat work burnout? What is your best kept secret to move forward? Share in the comments!
I could not stop thinking about you after our interaction. I am sorry that the rose bush that you originally wanted was sold. I could not let you buy that rose bush because I sold it to a customer before and it was going out on a delivery. I worked really hard with that customer before you; what you didn’t hear was their story of disappointment from a previous landscaping company. I was trying my best in all ways to ease their mind as they were picking out plants and teaching them how to take care of their new plants. My customer left happy as their new plants were in my care before they went on the delivery truck.
To easy your mind, the rose bush that you purchased is a Knock Out Rose. The Knock Out Rose has been bred to be low maintenance and disease resistant. I also gave you a sample of Espoma Bio-Tone, an excellent starter fertilizer for your ornamental plants and it’s my favorite on the market. Espoma Bio-Tone will optimize the health of your plant’s root system. We all know when our roots are strong, our plant is strong as well. That bag of humus that you got for your planting is filled with rich, organic matter. Both the Espoma Bio-Tone and the humus will make your new rose bush extremely happy.
If you just stopped arguing with me, I could have told helped you just like my previous customer. I could have taught you about pruning and application product for rose care, but instead you wanted to argue and haggle for the rose bush. You chose to question the prices because the rose bush that my other customer got the larger one and you got the smaller one; yet they were in the same size pot. You chose to continuously ask for a discount off of the $39.99 rose bush. I think my prices are fair. I make my prices for my department. My plants are at a great price.
What you do not see is the care that goes into the rose bush as well as all the other plants that I stock. I prune and dead head, I fertilize, and I apply application products. I put into a lot of work to have good looking plants. My team members and I invest in watering. We put our time into caring for these plants. I do not know what other Independent Garden Centers price their plants at but I can promise you that they put in time into their plants as well. The growers that we get these plants from have invested time to get these plants retail ready for us. There is so much time and talent behind the scenes that you do not see.
Also, as Kelly Kapoor says from The Office, “How Dare You?” How dare you argue for a discount and tell me that Walmart pays you $10.00 an hour? Walmart starts their employees at an average of $14.76 an hour in the United States and New Jersey’s minimum wage is $12.00 an hour. Finances are a poor subject to bring up to try and get your way. Look, I struggle with money as well. I have medical expenses for my son, who has special needs. I have bills to pay and food to put onto my table. You are not the only one struggling and I see you sister. When I loaded you up with your rose bush and your humus, I noticed your child hanging out in your vehicle. Please plant the rose bush with your child, share that moment together. I do not get to spend time with my child on the weekends because I am working. I do not get that time with my family because I am helping other families to plant their dream garden. Momma bear, do not argue with me about my prices when all I want to do is to be with my child too.
Please understand that my company needs to make money too. This is my job and I do need to make sales as well. If your Walmart ever shuts down, you do have the option of potentially of going to a different Walmart location; I do not have that opportunity to go to another location. I would have to start fresh after building my department for the past eight years. Help me keep my doors open by not trying to haggle. When you go to the next garden center, please do not be that person. If you want to be like that, then please go to a big box store and shop at their garden department. Let me invest in my energy with customers that want the best plant and to hear the knowledge I want to share.
I am a huge advocate for healthy lifestyles and self care! I feel the lifestyle of working at a garden centers can be intense and sometimes your needs do not come first. You start to eat the snacks your coworkers bring in, sometimes you eat lunch at a really weird time, and maybe sometimes you do not make get to eat your lunch because you are just so swamped with all the tasks during the day. These scenarios have happened to me at work.
I have tried everything to have a really good balance of food for work. I really like to graze; but I don’t want to graze on vegetables. I do have a sweet tooth; but I don’t want to grab cookies at the community snack counter in passing. I do not like to sit down and eat lunch because I want to be on the move.
I made it a personal goal to be healthier in life and I know I struggle with consuming fruits. I took on the challenge of being a fruitarian during work hours only and ever since I made this switch, I feel great.
I’ve noticed on TikTok, users are sharing videos of what they eat in a day and I have been inspired to share what I eat in a day at work as a fruitarian.
8:30 AM: I arrive at work with my coffee with coconut milk based creamer.
12:00 pm: I finally start to get hungry and I have my banana and drink a smoothie throughout the whole day. My favorite smoothie right now consists of: banana, pineapple, pitaya and coconut milk.
2:00 pm: I have my next serving of fruit and I normally reach for oranges. I may flex with this and do blueberries. I drink coconut water with pineapple in it.
3:45: last serving I have is melon. I opt for honeydew or watermelon - it just depends on what looks better at the food store!
On my car ride home, I will drink a refreshing bottle of kombucha!
I also keep a container of tree nuts on me just incase if it’s a hectic day and I just need a little something extra! I close out of work and go home. When I’m home, I break my fruitarian diet and have a huge, fresh salad filled with fresh vegetables! Overall, I feel really good. This practice had been beneficial to me because on my off days, I have been opting for more fruit choices instead of eating a snack that is not the greatest. I’ve noticed I’ve been eating less cheese and sugary snacks all together. I feel great!
I am no where near to being a dietician, but I do believe that you need to find a diet that works for you especially if you have a job where you are constantly on the move and psychically active. You need to take care of yourself and finding out what works best for you is the first start of going into that direction.
I feel extremely thankful to be where I am today in the Garden Center Industry because of those who nurtured me and taught me in my years of being in this industry. I’ve been having true nostalgia as I reflect on the past twelve years and where I see myself going in the industry. My journey has not been easy but it is a huge part of my life as I have these different experiences and being able to grow with knowledge.
I worked at my first garden center when I was nineteen. Working at this garden center just happened to be my first step into the industry and I had no clue what I was doing. I had to work in the industry during my years at college in order to get my degree to graduate. My plan all along was to get my hours to graduate and to transfer to the college of my choice to become an Agricultural Educator. I wanted to become a teacher to educate the future of agriculture and to have the chance to give back to Agricultural Education because of all the opportunities that I had - I really wanted to encourage students the way my teacher encouraged me. To me, this job was just all apart of a bigger plan and I did the bare minimum. The store manager and the store assistant manager tried really hard, they gave me chances. They quizzed me. They believed in me. Two extraordinary women in the industry rooted for me. Eventually, all those encouraging qualities wore off and it became frustration and annoyance as the days and months went on. I was juggling college and doing horrible in college while serving my state in the FFA. I was developing damaging habits and I was being broken by someone who wasn’t the best for me. This lasted until age twenty-one; I was not rehired going into 2011. Working at this garden center for one year and seven months came to a close. There was no more overwhelming feeling of wondering what plant a pink petunia one was versus what plant a red petunia was, there wasn’t anymore running away from my boss who was very intimidating, and there was no more annoyances. Unhealthy habits started to become healthy again and I started to feel renewed by also letting unhealthy people go. I started to do really well in college and I started to feel proud again. I was healing.
I took a break from working at garden centers and I ended up working at Kohl’s. I learned valuable lessons there for customer service but I still had to actually sign up for that college course for my internship. I also started to miss being outside and being surrounded by plants. I started to search to work at garden centers and I found one. I was ready to go back to one to work. I was happy and thriving! I was ready to enter back into the garden center. I was planted. My bosses, brothers who owned a landscaping business, took me on board. They were personable and great. My store manager, someone that I truly admire today and whose drive has been such an impact on me as a strong woman. I was so excited to be apart of a business who was developing their roots by starting up a garden center! This small garden center became my backbone in the industry - my store manager taught how and why it’s important to clean and fertilize our plants, she taught me how to set up plants, she let me run the business operations by opening and closing the store, and all these other great things that were both big and small. She let me run the comps stand at the town’s farmers’ market where my socializing skills grow. She built my confidence and I was so proud. I planted myself as a seed in this business because I was at a good place, my willingness to learn was there, I was older and wiser compared to my nineteen year old self. I was being cultivated because I wanted too, not because I had too. You cannot be cultivated by others unless you plant your own seed.
I got my credit and I graduated with a pretty good GPA with also news that my bosses could not keep open the garden center anymore and that was a big heartbreak for me. I really enjoyed what I was doing and I started to apply to garden centers all over New Jersey. There was one garden center in particulars interaction that I will never forget and I love telling this story.
I walked into Mendham Garden Center’s Annandale location saying “My name is Brianne and I’m looking for a new garden center to call home. Can I fill out an application?” The store manger let me fill out an application and I filled it out at the store counter and I said thank you for your time. I hop into my car and my phone rings and it’s the Annandale’s location store manager telling me that I’m WAY too qualified to work there but he is passing my information to another location because they need someone like me. I said that it’s completely okay for you to pass that information and as I’m driving I get a call from the other location asking me if I can come in, of course I say I can be down as soon as possible. I drive for maybe twenty minutes and I’m at my next interview. I walk out with my new job. My new home.
I was hired as the department manager for the nursery and the one site horticulturist - where I would be the go to for every plant question, buying material for the company, maintaining all plant life, managing the nursery floor, and of course serving the customer. Everything that I learned from my last garden center just made sense and was fully applied to my new department manager position. As the years went on, my boss challenged me and let me grow, I’ve made connections in the industry with professionals, and developed customer relations where I’m so happy that I have the confidence to call (most) customers by name. I’ve developed leadership roles within my team that I’m so proud of and so blessed that I can call the company that I work for as my work family. Eight years later, I’m still going strong and just so lucky to grow into the professional I am today.
I really thought I was not going to make it through 2020 while working because business was very upbeat with customers but I felt chaotic because I felt like I was being pulled into directions. I really thought I may not make it and that it was the end of me being in the industry. Here I am in June 2021, planning Spring 2022 by reaching out to new vendors. I feel proud.
I feel so proud doing what I’m doing and I couldn’t have gotten here without those who I met along the way in the industry. I’m so proud with building what I’m building with The Botany Scholar - there was a point where my website stopped existing and I’m so thankful that one of my Twitter followers let me know. I’m so happy I got it back because I had no clue where I was going to go from here. I have my social media that I invest in but now I get to invest in my blog again. I get to continue to interact with -what I like to call my unofficial official colleagues - on social media. I get to make my impact beyond the garden center I work at and I would not want it any other way.