Do you recall the scene from Alice in Wonderland when the character exclaims, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” The moment I heard this line, I immediately thought of how similar the pressures of work and life can feel to us. We can work hard to keep up, but if we could just do more, we think, maybe we will be okay.
My friends, this can lead to a state of burnout in a work place and most importantly, affect your health.
In our world today, work can feel like a never-ending spiral of things to do, places to be, and responsibilities to accomplish. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can lead to a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns. In severe cases, burnout can even lead to depression and anxiety effecting our relationships and overall health.
There are a number of things we can do to help protect and prevent burnout in our lives:
1. Set boundaries. It's important to set boundaries between your work life and your personal life. This means turning off notifications for work emails or taking work calls outside of work hours. It can mean taking time for yourself each day to relax and recharge.
2. Take breaks. It's important to take breaks throughout the day, even if it's just for a few minutes. Get up and move around, or step outside for some fresh air. Taking breaks will help you to stay focused and productive.
3. Get enough sleep. When we are sleep-deprived, we are more likely to experience stress and fatigue. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
4. Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet will give us the energy we need to cope with stress. Making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain helps us give us the fuel we need physically and mentally.
5. Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve our mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
6. Spend time with loved ones. Social support is important for preventing burnout. Making time for activities we enjoy with friends and family can spur us on and refuel our emotional tank.
7. Seek professional help if needed. If you're struggling with burnout, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to develop coping mechanisms and strategies for managing stress.
By following these tips, we can help to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Even more specific tips to help to prevent burnout are below:
· Find a job that you're passionate about. When we are passionate about our work, it's less likely to feel like a burden.
· Set realistic goals. Don't try to do too much at once. Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
· Learn to say no. It's okay to say no to extra work or commitments. Don't overextend yourself.
· Consider serving. Find an organization to volunteer with, help a neighbor with yard work or write a note to someone. Thinking about and serving others helps us to realize we are needed and does good in the world!
· Ask for help when you need it. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues, professional counselor, friends, or family.
Burnout is a serious issue, however there is hope because it can be prevented. Try out a few of these tips, and see if they help to protect your health and well-being. I’d love to hear what works for you!
If you sense you are stuck in this pattern of burnout whether with your work or in other areas in life, reach out to a professional. There are tools and resources available to us. Hope is just around the corner.
As I venture back to watching Alice in Wonderland, I hear another character question, “Have I gone mad?” She answers herself by saying, “I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.” The pressures of work can affect our life outside of our work bubble. We don’t have to feel ‘mad’ or frazzled or in turmoil all the time. It's important to be aware of how you are feeling, talk to others and put tools in place to protect you. If I may invert the quote above, I think it offers more encouragement to say, “Have I gone mad? I’m afraid not, the best people typically learn to turn towards healthy actions!”