Most of us spend a great deal of our time working. When we’re not working, we oftentimes consistently put others’ needs and agendas before our own. Sound familiar?
If we don’t make a conscious effort to replenish, we can head for burnout pretty quickly. Burnout can have a ripple effect, impacting our personal lives, health, relationships and overall quality of life.
Those of us who have experienced burnout know that it is no joke. Some signs of burnout include concentration problems, fatigue, anxiety and becoming disengaged with work. Interestingly, some healthcare professionals often misdiagnose persons who present with symptoms of burnout, often treating them for depression, which can have overlapping symptoms.
Around 2004, I was at a point in my life in which I was burned out and I ultimately realized that I was actually creating a good bit of my own stress and overwhelm. Here’s what I learned from that experience.
1. If I don’t fill up my own (proverbial) cup, I will not have anything left to give anyone else. I have to make a conscious effort to take time for myself. While this will look different for everyone, for me it includes downtime, unplugging, meditating, reading a book, getting a massage, and doing something that feels nourishing to my soul.
2. I have to say “no” (or “not now”) and create boundaries. Aw, yes, this is something that I continue to learn. Here’s the thing though. We all have choices. If we already have a lot on our plates (that we’ve put on), we don’t have to say yes to every request that comes our way. If we honor and respect our own time, others will do the same. For me, this meant not answering work email at night and on weekends. This is clearly a situation of “we teach people how to treat us.” If our work does not require us to be on-call, usually situations are not true emergencies and can wait until the next morning.
3. I’m a big fan of getting to the root cause, and I had to learn to pay attention to what drains me in order to do less of those things. For me, this means giving myself a break from electronics, and at certain times, turn off distractions. When we respond to every ding that comes from email, Facebook or text, we’ll never get any of our own work done, and ultimately cause ourselves more stress and overwhelm.
Of course the theme here is self-care. I saw the downward spiral in myself, and I continue to see it in my work with clients today. We get in our routines and run ourselves ragged until we get sick. Let’s promise ourselves to prevent this from happening and step away from our chronic “busy-ness.”
What’s one thing you can do today to reduce your stress?
ABOUT THIS GUEST: Nancie Vito is a coach and consultant who helps people who feel burned out to reduce stress, find fulfillment and boost happiness. In 2009 she founded Flourish, where she has inspired those who feel stuck (perhaps in a soul-crushing job) or burned out to take steps towards what they truly want. With an interest in mindset, mindfulness and motivation, she is grateful that her background in public health and mental health led her to this path. To take a burnout quiz or to get updates on her upcoming programs, visit her at nancievito.com.