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The stress of everyday life and work can be too much to bear at times.
With anxiety, depression and occupational burnout on the rise worldwide, it is more important than ever to take a step back and count the cost. (1)
What is burnout?
Occupational burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion, caused by prolonged exposure to work related stress.
Burnout can escalate to the extent that you lose control over your emotions and behavior. This can often lead to self-destructive behavior and can even clinical depression. (2)
In this article, you will find clever ways to manage stress in order to avoid burnout and even improve your quality of life.
What causes a burnout
We have all witnessed someone, or remember ourselves, experiencing a burnout. A lightweight example of a burnout is when you lose your mind over something and overreact in the heat of the moment.
Work related stress can build up over time, without you noticing it. Unless you have ways to deal with stress in a healthy way, it will pile up gradually and infest your quality of life – ending with a burnout.
There are many things both at work and in your personal life which can make you build up stress over time. Add work exhaustion to that and you have a recipe for disaster just waiting to happen.
It is important that you maintain a realistic perspective, so that you can keep your expectations in check.
Some things you cannot control:
-Your work environment.
-What other people think.
-What other people do.
Ideally, we should never stress about the things that we cannot control. That is like being angry with the rain instead of bringing an umbrella, or staying indoors.
Some things you can control:
-Your career choices.
-What you think.
-What you do.
Focus on dealing with the things that you can control. This is where your strength lies when it comes to managing stress.
“You can do anything, but not everything.” –David Allen
The easiest way to avoid burnout is by recognizing the symptoms of stress early on and dealing with the source of stress before it gets out of hand.
The symptoms of stress:
-Weak immune system
Remember these symptoms and make sure that you are not experiencing them regularly. If you are, then you are probably headed for a burnout.
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Play the long game
Stress gets to us most when we feel trapped by it. When a particular annoyance gets under your skin or keeps you up at night.
This kind of stress will pile up and eat away at you little by little, if you let it. To prevent this from happening, you need to take a step back and look at the big picture.
Examine your vision of personal success and re-evaluate your long term goals. Find that something that keeps you going and focus on that. Tap into your success mindset.
“You should set goals beyond your reach so you always have something to live for.” –Ted Turner
Having a meaningful goal to work toward will help you manage stress, and avoid burnout, as well as give you something to look forward to in your future.
Try to stretch your imagination and see what your life could look like in 5-10 years. Think about the good habits that you want to adopt and the bad habits that you want to get rid of – so that you can achieve your long term goal.
Make a decision to work toward a better future, and then commit yourself to making that happen. By increasing the quality of your life, the stress of your everyday life will become easier to deal with.
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Stick to your plans
Feeling like your life is not moving anywhere is one of the stress symptoms that lead to burnout. A feeling of monotony can start to fester in your mind, and this leads to stressing out about your life and career choices.
A great tool for managing stress, as well as your plans, is a monthly planner.
I have been using a personal planner for years, and it has always been an invaluable asset to me. Now, I am giving out my proprietary planner for free, so that anyone can benefit from my experience.
A meaningful goal and a good planner can be a life changing combination. However, even with the best of plans, you will not go far unless you do the meaningful work.
“He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest.” -Dylan Thomas
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that, for most cases, 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results, while 80% of efforts produce 20% of results. (2)
If you are in sales, for example, then administrative work and pitching to clients is 80% of your work and 20% of the results. Meanwhile, getting the client and closing the sale would be the 20% of the work that produces the 80% of your work results.
From this example, you can see how focusing on the most meaningful work can have a direct impact to your bottom line.
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Keep your energy levels in check
The most rewarding activities are also the hardest ones. They are, most often, the activities that make you challenge yourself and push your limits.
Enduring the daily grind can be exhausting, unless you properly manage your time and energy. This here is the most common cause of occupational burnout.
There are ways in which you can manage your energy so that you keep the stress, and burnout, at bay. One of these tricks includes your planner. Aside from keeping you focused on your progress, it also tells you when you are doing too much.
If you are consistently failing at a certain task in your planner, then you might want to rethink your approach, or lower your expectations, for weekly results. Also, you can cut back on your other planned activities, so that your focus remains on your most productive 20% activities.
There is a thin line between pushing yourself too hard and not pushing yourself hard enough. You need to know how to test the line without falling through it and causing a burnout.
“Caring of myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” –Audre Lorde
A great way to keep track of your progress and stress levels over time is by keeping a journal, along with your planner.
You need to keep an honest account of how you are dealing with your progress. I like to condense my commentary to my 1 page monthly planner, so that I don’t rationalize too much. If I had a hard week, then I make a note of it to excuse my tardiness; but I don’t let it become a habit.
Personally, I tend to overthink things, so for me, a short commentary is how I keep it simple. However, when you are starting out with a new regimen, or trying to adopt new habits, then taking more notes can be very useful. So if you feel like you need to make bigger notes or keep a journal, then you should definitely do that as well.
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Maintain a stress-free mindset
Stress builds up in the form of mental clutter, taking up more and more space in your mind as time goes by.
To prevent mental clutter from piling up in your mind, you need to do some spring cleaning from time to time. You can do this by venting your feelings. Find for yourself a healthy way to blow off steam when you feel like the pressure is building.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” -Unknown
There are many ways to blow off steam and relieve stress. Get creative and find new ways to enjoy your free time and clear your head.
Let’s review the lessons for stress management and preventing burnout:
- Burnout is caused by exhaustion from work related stress.
- To prevent a burnout, take a step back and look at the big picture.
- Manage productivity and stress by using a planner.
- Overwork leads to burnout, so make time for self-care.
- Clean out the mental clutter and think positive.
Here is the key hack to take away from this article. Piled up stress causes burnout, so make sure that you find healthy ways to blow off steam.
Aside from that, try to find simple ways to bring more balance into your life. Make sure that you go to sleep with a clear conscience and that you wake up looking forward to a new day at work and with your loved ones. That is the recipe to a life worth living.
Did you enjoy this article? Leave a comment and let me know!
- The rise of stress related illnesses.
- Burnout leads to clinical depression.
- The Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule.