Stress. Dealing with Burnout. Preventing Burnout.
By Nancy Brown-Johnston
STRESS! Is there anything new to be said? Maybe not, yet many of us need help dealing with high stress levels in our lives today. Here is a quick review of some recognized stress facts:
- Stress is a very necessary and positive life force
- Stress is the impetus for growth, change, and adaption (Ruben)
- When we deal effectively with stress, we gain opportunities for personal and social growth, creativity, and discovery
It’s important to know the positive side of stress. Unfortunately, here are some serious facts about the risks of unmanaged stress:
- Chronic and accumulated stress can have devastating physical and emotional consequences
- Stress lowers our resistance to illness
- Stress can play a contributory role in diseases of the kidney, heart, and blood vessels
- Stress contributes to migraine and tension headaches, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, allergies, respiratory diseases, arthritis, and even cancer (Pelletier)
- Stress is generated when we face environmental threats or demands to which we cannot easily adjust
- Our bodies mobilize to manage the demands, causing wear and tear that must be addressed
There are real threats from our physical environment, but in many cases, the threats we face are symbolic rather than physical:
- the threat of rejection
- the loss of a loved one
- a heated argument with a colleague
- the prospect of failure
- the tension of a traffic jam
- the pressure of an approaching project deadline
- a difficult assignment
- physical aches and pains
- economic and financial strains
- constant demands and pulls on our time and attention
- unresolved conflicts
These symbolic threats trigger the same fear and reactions associated with physical threats – hormonal, muscular, and neural reactions; and these actions dissipate our physical and emotional energy. What can we do? Take the necessary steps to manage your unique situation.
Steps to take to deal with stress…
1st – Pay attention to your feelings, thoughts, reactions, and behaviors. If you think or feel you are stressed, you are. Left unaddressed, burnout can and will occur. Get help quickly, as soon as you recognize you need it.
2nd – Set limits both in terms of hours per day and days per month in doing your stuff. Treat your limits with respect.
3rd – Set time aside for yourself and use it with discipline and commitment. Be proud to recognize and meet your own needs.
4th – Whenever possible, work and spend time with people you like (choose wisely). It can reduce work stress and provide opportunities to learn.
5th – Address conflicts so they don’t grow and dominate your thoughts and feelings.
6th – Maintain long-term relationships and spend time with significant others on a regular basis (regular is yours to define). This can give you support, recognition, reassurance, and opportunities to “be yourself.”
Nancy Brown-Johnston is the owner of TripleWin US and co-founder of TripleWin Global, www.triplewintraining.com. She is an active partner in TripleWin Europe and TripleWin Netherlands, www.triplewin.nl.