Avoiding Burnout and Keeping the Meetings with Yourself, with Dr. Lorneka Joseph

February 28, 2024
Today, Lorneka and Jess discuss the importance of prioritizing self-care and well-being for high achievers. They share insights on setting boundaries, recognizing red flags of neglecting personal health, and integrating self-care into daily routines.
Avoiding Burnout and Keeping the Meetings with Yourself, with Dr. Lorneka Joseph
February 28, 2024
Today, Lorneka and Jess discuss the importance of prioritizing self-care and well-being for high achievers. They share insights on setting boundaries, recognizing red flags of neglecting personal health, and integrating self-care into daily routines.



Dr. Lorneka Joseph found herself in the hospital after pushing too hard, and she uncovered a hard truth – she needed to slow down or stare directly at a premature death.

Today, Lorneka and Jess discuss the importance of prioritizing self-care and well-being for high achievers. They share insights on setting boundaries, recognizing red flags of neglecting personal health, and integrating self-care into daily routines.

It’s not easy, but we can all learn how to be ambitious without sacrificing our physical and mental well-being.

ABOUT OUR GUEST – Dr. Lorneka Joseph

Dr. Lorneka Joseph is a Pharmacist, Motivational Speaker, Life and Wellness Coach for high achievers and organizations redefining work and wellness.


Dr. Lorneka Joseph found herself in the hospital after pushing too hard, and she uncovered a hard truth – she needed to slow down or stare directly at a premature death.

Today, Lorneka and Jess discuss the importance of prioritizing self-care and well-being for high achievers. They share insights on setting boundaries, recognizing red flags of neglecting personal health, and integrating self-care into daily routines.

It’s not easy, but we can all learn how to be ambitious without sacrificing our physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Lorneka Joseph is a Pharmacist, Motivational Speaker, Life and Wellness Coach for high achievers and organizations redefining work and wellness.

Amplify with Jess is produced by Earfluence, and brought to you by Mic Drop Workshop.


Lorneka – 00:00:04:

Being in the hospital, right, as a college student with a $7,000 bill that I could not afford, that was the biggest red flag for me that, Lorneka, if you don’t slow down, if you don’t start implementing boundaries and unlearning that you don’t have to save everybody at the expense of your well-being, you’re going to die a premature death.

Jess – 00:00:33:

Welcome to Amplify with Jess Ekstrom, a show designed to help women get out of their head and into their zone of influence. There’s a meeting on your calendar with someone else, I bet you rarely cancel it. But what if there’s a meeting on your calendar with yourself? It’s probably going to be the first thing to go. In this episode with Dr. Lorneka Joseph, we are going to talk about how to keep those appointments with yourself so you don’t get burnout. Dr. Lorneka is a world-renowned speaker, founder of Brightly Awake, pharmacist, emotional intelligence expert, and she’s a life coach for ambitious people and high achievers, which I have a feeling a lot of the listeners on this show are. She is also the author of Working Well, How to Increase and Improve Productivity. She’s been featured in Forbes, Essence Magazine, and much more. So if you are looking to work well while also keeping that meeting with yourself, let’s listen to Dr. Lorneka Joseph. The fact that you are pharmacist turned life coach for ambitious people and high achievers. What was the bridge? When were you like, you know what, I’m going to put the, are you still an active pharmacist? Like, tell me what this bridge was.

Lorneka – 00:01:52:

Yeah. So I am, it’s interesting. So yes, I am still actively practicing in the state of Florida. And it’s interesting because my inspiration, if I can share Jess, was when people think about, they’re like, well, why would you, cause in addition to being a pharmacist, while I was pursuing my doctorate, I minored in journalism and communication. So when I was born and raised in the Bahamas, of course, my biggest inspiration was Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And so for me, one day I was like, I want to be able to do what he does on CNN. And so when I decided that that’s what I wanted to do, I’m like, people were looking at me like, those two don’t make sense. I’m like, it doesn’t make sense to you, but people don’t know how to, I guess you can say people don’t know how to take health information, especially when it comes to health and wellness and pretty much kind of implement that information. It’s just so much right from the medication to the lifestyle, to whatever it is being caretakers. And so I’m like, there needs to be more of me in the market and around the world. And so that’s where I was like, okay, let me just leap for it. I’m going to jump. I took pretty much while I was in college, jazz crazy enough. I took one of my tax refunds. And that’s when I reached out and found someone to make this simple landing page for me, letting people know that, Hey, I’m a writer. Hey, I can write health articles and start speaking. If you want me to come, come to your campus. Here I am.

Jess – 00:03:21:

Oh my gosh. That is the best story that I have ever heard. You got to put it out there. Like you got to throw the bait or else you won’t catch the fish. That’s incredible. And I think the thing that I am so drawn to you about is there’s so much discussion now around like workplace wellness. Mental, physical wellness companies are being pushed to be like, Hey, we should probably have a budget or something that, you know, mental health days, something that shows that we care about the mental wellbeing of our people. Because I think, especially in our, you know, Western culture, it is. Work at the expense of us. I mean, when I traveled on my honeymoon with my husband, when I was in like Italy, it’s like, or Spain, people are taking a siesta. It’s the middle of the day. You know, what are they doing? There’s things to do. And then now I’m like, I could really use a siesta right about now. And I’d probably be a much better worker for it. So what is your personal view on how do we make, how do we strike this balance of like being an achiever in an ambitious person, but not at the expense of our physical and mental wellbeing?

Lorneka – 00:04:39:

Absolutely. And it’s a, it’s a great question, Jess. And when I went actually to, I had my, I had a, to date, it has been the best trip ever. I took a seven day trip to Paris. And just like you, I was like my girlfriend and I, it was probably, maybe I want to say like 11, 12 o’clock. And I’m just like, why is everything closed? And they’re like, so someone said, you know, basically like, oh, we’re on lunch break. I’m like, it’s been an hour already. They’re like, what’s wrong with you? We take hour-long lunch breaks. And I’m like, man, we have got it so wrong in the Western culture because, and especially for me being a medical professional. And of course, you know, Jess, we can see now it’s not just pharmacists, but most medical professionals, we are not only burnt out, overwhelmed. And it’s like another bonus is not going to work.

Jess – 00:05:30:


Lorneka – 00:05:31:

A shout out and going to work. We have literally, as you said, I think it’s just so much of sacrificing our wellbeing to climb the corporate ladder. And I don’t think it’s worth it. And here’s why all of this really shifted for me during the pandemic, when of course everything was shut down and most people may or may not know, but pharmacists, we kept working. There was never, we didn’t get the MO. We didn’t get the email. Okay. You guys can stay home for a couple of days. No, we continue to go to work. We continue to go to work. We continue to go to work. We continue to work because of course, you know, the height of the pandemic, people were sick, people, this was before the vaccines. And so we continue to work. And Jess, it was, I had a red flag moment where I came home and I was driving and I sat in my garage and I don’t know if any of the, you know, audience have ever had this experience where you’re sitting in your car and you’re just trying to de-stress. And I’m like, What am I doing? Why do I feel so burnt out? This is something that I love doing, but now it’s like, I think I’m overwhelmed and I have to do something, the life coach. So I had to put myself in my coaching seat and ask myself these hard questions. And so for me, seeing everyone around me burned out, meeting other high achievers, like once or twice a year we’re going on vacation, but Jess, it’s not enough. Right? Missing out on family time, missing out on truly what we want to do. I’m like, God, I don’t want to do this anymore. Meaning I no longer want to sacrifice my wellbeing for a paycheck. And so it was during the pandemic where I shifted and I stepped down. I’m still practicing, but now as a part-time pharmacist, pretty much kind of as needed. And I’m focusing more now my time and energy on increasing the visibility of what I do as a life and wellness coach and entrepreneurial pharmacist, trying to teach high achievers and organizations to do what you love without having to sacrifice and compromise your wellbeing and lifestyle.

Jess – 00:07:39:

Oh my gosh. I love the clarity around that. And I love it is scratching such an itch right now. I definitely have a habit that I want you to tell me why I’m wrong. And I say, well, I almost mark like wellness, rest, recharge as a time on the calendar. Like you said, oh, you got to make it to this date or, oh, there’s a vacation at this time. And that’s going to be the time that I refill myself or, you know, the holidays or whatever it might be. That’s when I’ll rest. But I know that it needs to, I need to adjust my mindset around like rest and wellness into having it baked into just like how I approach my day rather than a day on the calendar.

Lorneka – 00:08:26:


Jess – 00:08:26:

Tell me how to do this.

Lorneka – 00:08:30:

So the first thing that I would say, Jess, is because we’ve heard it before. We’ve seen the memes and all of the quotes. Our health without. So without our health, we’re absolutely nothing. Right. If you didn’t get sufficient sleep, probably you wouldn’t be as clear right on this podcast today. And I can say the same for myself. So for me, anything that is going to increase my energy, increase productivity and help me to be a little bit more holistic with my approach. Here’s what I mean. So running a business, of course, you’re going to be engaging your team on a day to day basis. So before you start engaging with your team, one of the things that I tell my coaching clients is how do you want to start your day? And so. It’s not going to start with your cell phone. It’s going to start with yourself and you need to put yourself on your calendar. So if you’re an early morning bird, if you’re waking up at 5 AM or 6 AM. From 6 AM to 7 AM, it’s just time. That is an actual appointment. So in that time, you’re not taking phone calls. You’re not responding to emails. That is the time for you to center yourself and everything else comes after that. Because what? What I have realized is that as high achievers, we prioritize everyone over ourselves. And then in the middle of the day, we’re like, I don’t have anything else. Oh, my God, I have an interview. Oh, my God, I have to pick up the kids. Oh, my God, I have to stop and take care. You know, take my parents to an appointment because now you’re drained out. So I would say put your name like as much as you know, with your business, putting an appointment. Okay, I have an interview, you know, with Dr. Lorneka. I want you to put your name on your calendar. And you’re not negotiating that date.

Jess – 00:10:26:

That is the most important part because the first person I will cancel on is myself.

Lorneka – 00:10:31:


Jess – 00:10:32:

100% of the time. It is the thing that is always first to go because you believe that everyone else is, those things can’t be, those are more important.

Lorneka – 00:10:44:


Jess – 00:10:45:

It was Arianna Huffington, I believe, that talked about how athletes are one of the only professions that outwardly connects their physical well-being to their performance at work where we should all be making that connection in what we do. I know that if I am going and speaking at an event and I take a red eye versus flying in the day before and getting a good night’s sleep, I’m going to perform differently on that stage.

Lorneka – 00:11:10:

Yes. Same. Same for me. Like even today, right? Knowing that, you know, I was going to be on this interview and it’s recently, like probably maybe the last four weeks, I have made a personal commitment to not cancel on myself. Here’s what I’ve been doing. So at least three times a week, I get on my treadmill. It doesn’t matter what is happening. I am getting on my treadmill because once I’m done with that hour, I not only feel good, but like I tell people, especially those who are wanting to get in the speaker space or really improve their performance. Whether that’s being an entrepreneur or being, you know, in corporate America, most of what we do as an art, it starts with our mindset. And so working out, hydrating yourself, whether you are working from home, we really dismiss those things until we have to go to the doctor or it’s our wellness checkup at the end of the year or the beginning of the year. But I tell people at least three times a year, you need to know what your numbers are. How are you operating? Right. How is your brain functioning? How is your blood pressure? Because like you said, you know, if I take a red, I’m going to speak out of town. I’m just cranky. I forgot my presentation. I don’t really want to engage. And so definitely, I truly agree that our wellbeing is directly connected and correlated to our performance. Whether you are a high achiever, an entrepreneur, your performance is based on your input and your output.

Jess – 00:12:45:

What are some things that we can look at that are red flags that, okay, I’m neglecting myself or something is wrong before it gets to be too bad? I’ll give you an example. A couple of years ago, I had just a pretty stressful year at work. And at Christmas time, I got shingles. And I was 30 years old with shingles. And I go to the doctor. I’m like, what is this? They’re like, you have stress-induced shingles. My husband took it as an opportunity around Christmas to sing Shingle All the Way. So that was really fun. But I was like, wow, how was I so neglectful to my own physical well-being that shingles had to pop up on my face in order to realize that? So what are some sensors that we can look at in our body that tell us, hey, time to take a step back?

Lorneka – 00:13:45:

Yes. So the first thing, and it’s interesting that you shared that, Jess, because most people believe that people who are 50 years and older, or if you’re a baby boomer, then definitely you’re going to get shingles. But now we are seeing, and as you just shared, you’re not even near 50 years old and you got shingles. And it’s happening more because we are stressed. And so one of the first things that I tell people when it comes to recognizing that red flags is, how are you engaging the people close to you? Here’s what I mean. Your spouse, your mate, your children. Are you cranky? Have you been snapping at them, right? Your children, have they made comments like, mommy, you yelled at me? Or maybe your mate is like, hey, I’ve been trying to spend time with you and you just been kind of shoving me off. Houston, we have a problem. That is a red flag that not only your body is not functioning at optimal level, but it is time for a rest and reset because the people closest to us, they know us in and out. And so they are really, they can tell us whether we are not performing well and whether we need to take some time to say, you know what? I’m not only sorry, but I need a minute. I need to figure out what’s going on with me because I don’t like who I’m becoming and how I’m performing with you all, which is your, I call it your sacred circle. So your sacred circle is your parents, your children, your boss, your team, your mate, your dogs, whoever is in that immediate circle that you see almost every day. That is the circle that’s going to tell you whether or not you are really treating them well or you’re not treating them well and you need to pull back and assess that.

Jess – 00:15:34:

Oh, your sacred circle. That is such a good way because of course, when you’re thinking about your wellness, you’re thinking about like, oh, do I have bags? When I’m in the mirror, or do I, are my lips chapped from not being hydrated enough? How we are showing up for the people in our circle is such a good indicator of our stress levels. Yes. And I kind of hope my husband isn’t listening to this because he might be like, hey, you’ve been a little snappy lately. Are you taking care of yourself? It’s honestly such a good call out. And I find that whenever, I come back from a leg of travel, you know, a lot with speaking. I find that I am snappy. I’m not treating people as I should because I’m like, oh, because I’m on E, you know, and you give it your all and you’re showing up. And I think that’s why I’m so fascinated that you have the focus on like high achieving people and ambitious people, because I will admit, if I have, you know, turned left or right, there’s a fork in the road and it is an inbox of 50 unread emails or a cup of tea and a journal, I’m going to pick the unread emails. And that’s tough to not pick that. So can you explain, like, how can we almost, like, unlearn productivity in a more wellness focused way?

Lorneka – 00:17:13:

So here is, and I’m glad that was a good example, Jess, because I’ve had to unlearn that as well. It was prior to the pandemic in 2019. I was telling on myself. Now, I was one of those when I was getting up in the morning, as soon as I saw a text message or I missed a phone call, I would immediately either return it or respond to that email. And then as I started to, you know, grow closer to God and walk within my faith, it was like God was telling me, listen, if you don’t manage the way you start your day, you are going to have really bad anxiety. And I’m raising my hand as a pharmacist because I actually had, just as you had stress-induced shingles, Jess, I had a stress-induced anxiety attack in college.

Jess – 00:18:00:

Oh, man.

Lorneka – 00:18:02:

And here’s the thing, going back to the indicators, Jess, I didn’t recognize it was stress. It was back pain that I was self-medicating with the leave. And I had an exam. I slept for about maybe three to four hours, get to campus, Jess, getting ready. I’m going over my notes, trying to whatever I did not get to study. I get into the auditorium. I sit down and I am in such pain. I am clutching literally my chest because it felt like the air, someone was literally squeezing the air out of my lungs. And I started to have labored breathing and only to find out. And in that moment, so here I am and everyone is looking at me like, what is happening? And I’m like, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I’m crying profusely. So one of my peers, he literally rushes, gets his car, pulls up in front of the auditorium and rushes me to the hospital. And I’m like, I can’t breathe. Only for the ER physician to be looking at me, he was like. Hey, med student. Hey, pharmacy intern. And I’m like, oh God, what is happening? Why am I in the hospital? He said, I know, you know, he was told that, you know, you were having some back pain, but he said you had a stress induced anxiety attack.

Jess – 00:19:23:

Oh my gosh. Was that the wake-up call for you?

Lorneka – 00:19:29:

That was a wake-up call for me. And so much was happening Jess, within my family. My mother and my grandmother, it’s been a few years since they had passed, but there was this period where my family, we were going through just grief. It was like one after the other. I’d lost another uncle and another aunt. And so I was being everything. To everyone while pursuing my doctorate and neglecting myself. And so of course default, right? I’d seen all of the women in my family do it, take care of everybody else, right? Because I don’t know for high achievers, we tend to feel, and this is going back to your question. We sometimes feel that if we are not taking care of the people closest to us, then there’s this selfish mode that’s going on. We start to ensue self guilt, right? Well, hey, Jess, I sent you an email two days ago. You never responded. So now you’re feeling bad. Now you’re questioning, well, why didn’t I respond to the email? And so for me, being in the hospital, right? As a college student with a $7,000 bill that I could not afford, that was the biggest red flag for me that Lorneka, if you don’t slow down, if you don’t start implementing boundaries and unlearning that you don’t have to save everybody at the expense of you, then you’re not going to be able to do it. And so I think that’s a big part of it. Your wellbeing, you’re going to die a premature death.

Jess – 00:20:56:

What a wake up call. And then the fact that you were also pursuing your doctorate. And there’s this false narrative that it’s like, of course, if you’re in pharmacy school, then you know all of this stuff.

Lorneka – 00:21:09:


Lorneka – 00:21:10:

And it’s like, no, that’s not the case at all. If anything, you might put yourself last because maybe you have that false confidence that you’re like, no, I’ll be fine.

Lorneka – 00:21:20:


Jess – 00:21:21:

One of the things that I struggle with is when people tell me something is stress-induced. And I’m like, yeah. Duh, welcome to the world. And they’re like, oh, well, you just relax. Like if someone tells me to calm down, I mean, my blood pressure is, so what do we do with this information? Like when we start to notice some of our flags, like we’re being more snippy with our inner circle, or we have some sort of symptoms flaring up. What are some things and steps that we can take to start to keep our level of ambition?

Lorneka – 00:22:05:


Jess – 00:22:06:

But still take care of ourselves.

Lorneka – 00:22:09:

Yeah, so. The first thing that I would ask myself for anyone that’s listening, Jess, is really ask yourself before. So I give my clients this, what I call a 48 hour rule. And this 48 hour rule is if you get a request from anyone, whether, you know, in your sacred circle or out of your sacred circle, if you get a request before you respond, give yourself 24 to 48 hours before you say yes. Here’s the reason why, Jess.

Jess – 00:22:41:

Oh my gosh, you’re calling me out right now. Keep going. Keep going. I need to hear this. Keep going.

Lorneka – 00:22:46:

The reason why is just because I have the ability to do something, it doesn’t mean that I have the capability to do something.

Jess – 00:22:57:

Oh my gosh. Like I’m telling my team right now, mark that one down because I need that as a bumper sticker on my bedroom when I wake up in the morning.

Lorneka – 00:23:09:

24 to 48 hours. Because here’s the thing, Jess, and in a space of talking about productivity, as high achievers, our circle, they rely so heavily on us. Because if you’re like me, I’m an ex-people pleaser. I said yes to everything. It didn’t matter if I knew I could do it. But from the place of rejection, rejection and perfectionism and people pleasers, they’re all cousins, right? When rejection shows up. Perfectionism shows up and he brings along, right? People pleasing. Because if I tell Jess, I can’t come to her event, oh my God, what is she going to think of me? Now my pressure is increasing. Now anxiety is being triggered. And Jess doesn’t, and you probably wouldn’t even would be okay with, it’s okay, Lorneka, you don’t have to come to this event. But again, people pleasers, let me go to Jess’ event because I went to all of her other events. And if I say no this time, she’s going to think I’m being a mean friend. When you’re probably nine times out of 10, you’re probably not even thinking that.

Jess – 00:24:16:

Right. We make our own narratives in our head. We do that all. I do that all the time. And I actually worked with my therapist where she’s like, stop looking for clues. Like take things and people for as they are and what they say and trust that the people who are really, who really care about you will let you know.

Lorneka – 00:24:35:


Jess – 00:24:36:

Don’t lose. Yeah.

Lorneka – 00:24:38:

And I love that. And that’s something that’s something that I share with my clients and my patients as well. Listen, for example, when I had the anxiety attack, right, I had to unlearn so much, but the first people that I got on the phone with after I got better, I was out of the hospital and I remember my assistant Dean literally coming to me. She said, Hey, we know that you’ve been going through a lot. We know that you’ve had some recent loss. If you need to take off a semester, let us know. You will not have to appeal or do any of the things to get back into the program. So basically, like you said, we were creating our own narrative. But one of the things that I would say, especially to high achievers, is have that conversation with your sacred circle. So I called my father, my immediate family members and say, hey, listen, I know that I told you guys you can call me for anything. Call me anytime. I am so sorry. I cannot be everything to you in this season. So I am going to need you all to help me to help you. I am not only a country away, I am hours away. So if it is something that is not an emergency, can we pull back on the phone calls and can we pull back on the emails and the text messages?

Jess – 00:25:55:

Yes, I learned this. It took me having a child to learn how to set a boundary. My maternity leave, for the first time ever, I was like, I am unavailable. I mean, up until that point, it’s like, I’m unavailable. But even if I’m in the hospital, here’s a pager. I’m in hospital room 307. It took me having a baby to be like, I am unavailable and unapologetically unavailable. And you realize people figure it out. Life goes on. And you are not the nucleus of everything around you. And so that’s a very freeing thing. And we’ve talked about it a few times on this podcast of just like the realization that it’s like. You are not the glue and that’s great.

Lorneka – 00:26:50:

No. And Jess, if I could say this, like one of the affirmations, I have my sticky notes right here. Yes, I’m a grown adult. I still have sticky notes and cue cards. And they’re in my bathroom. They’re everywhere. Sometimes they’re in my white coat pocket when I’m at work. Because if I get a lunch break, I literally have to affirm myself. And one of the things that I’ve had to tell myself over the years, Jess, is Lorneka. You are not God and you cannot save everybody. Because when I took myself out of that seat, because again, I felt like I could fix everything. I can fix everyone. And I can’t because I was setting myself on fire. And so I would tell myself that, you know, and it became so freeing. And one of the things that I had to, that I shared with my family members is if it’s an emergency, call 911. What am I going to do, Jess? I’m going to run to Orlando airport, sit there in the middle of the night, three, four o’clock in the morning, hoping to get a flight when, you know, maybe a family member is having a stroke or some medical crisis. I can’t do anything in another country until I get there. So it behooves my loved ones, right? And like you said, like they will figure things out. Right? I can’t save everybody. And so that was one of the affirmations that I still tell myself. Sometimes, yes, it hurts because I want to be there when my loved ones need me, but I also have to help them teach themselves and coach themselves to a place of rescue. Like, Lorneka is there. This is what she’s doing. I’m going to have to figure this out. And when I can get to it, I can get to it. It doesn’t take away from my identity. It doesn’t take away from the fact that I don’t care. I do care, but my identity is not based on what I do for you. Who I am is who I am, not what I do.

Jess – 00:28:44:

Okay. We’re ending here because if there’s anything that anyone should take from this podcast, it is the last thing that you said. Can you say it again? Your identity?

Lorneka – 00:28:56:

Yes. Your identity is not what you do. It is who you are.

Jess – 00:29:01:

Oh, I love that. Dr. Lorneka. Thank you so much. Where can people find you? How can they work with you?

Lorneka – 00:29:07:

Yes, absolutely. So they can find me on all social media platforms @drlorneka, and then also on my website at drlorneka.com. So it’s Dr. Lorneka and Company, all social media, LinkedIn, Instagram, finally got on TikTok. Yes, I’m hanging out there. And feel free to slide in the DMs. Definitely open and I’m looking forward. But I am an open book and ready to help high achievers and organizations really prioritize well-being without sacrificing their lifestyle and their health.

Jess – 00:29:40:

I can attest to that. I feel like I should pay you for this session. Just send me your invoice. Dr. Lorneka Joseph, thank you so much. I appreciate you.

Lorneka – 00:29:48:

Thank you.

Jess – 00:29:53:

Thanks for listening to Amplify. If you are a fan of the show, show us some podcast love by giving us a rating and review. And give us a follow @micdropworkshop and @jessekstrom. This episode was edited and produced by Earfluence and I’m Jess Ekstrom, your host. Remember that you deserve the biggest stage. So let’s find out how to get you there. I’ll see you again soon.


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