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November 4 – November 8 is Stress Awareness Week. Living in a society where hustle, bustle, and high achievers seem to be the name of the game, chronic stress and burnout are quite common. Just listen to your family and friends talk about how busy their lives are and how stressed they are feeling. Chances are your co-workers do the same thing and all-the-while burnout may be creeping up on them. It may even be happening to you.
What Is Burnout?
The reality is that life gets busy and we all have various amounts of stress to contend with at times. Burnout occurs when chronic stress leads to emotional and/or physical exhaustion. In turn, this exhaustion can lead to other things like anxiety, depression, or even a lack of motivation.
So how do you spot burnout? How do you notice that you’re going from normal anxiety, stress, and fatigue to flat-out emotional or physical burnout?
Let’s take a look at some key signs on how you can spot burnout during this year’s International Stress Awareness Week:
You’re not just tired. You’re exhausted. You’re chronically fatigued. If you’re walking around like a drained zombie, completely depleted, you may be headed for burnout or already there.
If you’re prone to insomnia, despite the fact that you are exhausted, it could be that your busy mind is having troubling calming down. Your nervous system is staying in fight-and-flight mode, and this, over time, can lead to burnout.
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Lack of clarity or focus.
If you’re having trouble concentrating like you used to or you forget a lot of things, the stress may really be getting to you. This may start out as minimal, but if the stress and busyness continue, it can lead to the inability to get things done, which could exacerbate the situation.
Do you get frequent headaches? Stomach aches? Heart palpitations or panic attacks? These could be indicators that you’re on the track toward burnout.
The longer you tread on the track toward burnout, the more depressed you may feel. It may start out as a mild sadness, but it can progress to the point where you find it challenging to get up in the morning to go about your day.
If you’re on edge more than ever, snapping at people more than you ever have, you may be burning out. Feelings of deep frustration or anger are also symptoms of burnout.
Isolation and/or detachment.
You may find yourself hibernating in your home, too tired or distraught to get out and enjoy the things you used to enjoy.
Overcoming Burnout and Becoming More Peaceful
Do you see yourself in one or more of these characteristics? If so, know that you can swing things around and get back your enthusiasm, energy, peace, and passion. After all, burnout is not something you have to live with forever, as there are things you can do to overcome it.
Make a Not-to-Do list.
Chances are one reason you’re heading for burnout is you have too many things on your plate. Do you really need to do everything that you’re doing? Gauge your everyday life and make a Not-to-Do list. Cut out those things that are absolutely unnecessary and free up some of your precious time.
Stop taking on new commitments.
At this time in life, stay true to yourself and don’t take on any new commitments. Let people know that your plate is full and you’re in being kind to yourself by resting, refreshing, and renewal. People will understand.
If you can delegate tasks and chores, feel free to do it. Let go and trust that they will be able to handle it.
Spend time each day in quiet.
Whether you like meditation or prayer, make a commitment to spend at least 10 minutes a day in solitude in order to quiet your mind. Focus on your breath and allow peace to infiltrate your body. This is your sacred time with yourself. It allows you to slow your mind down and just be present. This is time you don’t have to “do” anything. Just “be” and allow peace to envelop you.
Along with meditation, mindfulness can help you sluff off the stress and embrace peace. To be mindful is to be present as each moment arrives. If you’re eating breakfast, don’t let your thoughts drift to all the things you have to do today. Rather, be mindful of what you’re eating. The way the food tastes in your mouth. The way it feels good when it hits your stomach. The way your cells smile when they get the nutrients. Make mindfulness a practice throughout your day, because when you are focused on experiencing the present moment, you’re not allowing your past or future thoughts to rule, thus, reducing stress.
Stop working at a certain time.
Leave work at work and if you work from home, stop working at a certain time.
Spend time pampering you regularly. This could mean getting out for a nature hike, hitting the spa for a massage, lounging at the pool, or whatever else you find that nurtures you.
In a world where busyness tends to be looked at as success, know that too much busyness leads to a lot of stress and possibly burnout.
No doubt at various times you’ll be faced with situations or people that can cause some ripples in the water, but you don’t have to face those times with an already frazzled nervous system.
Rather, you can face such times with a deep peace inside that can sustain you and keep you level headed. You can achieve this peace more easily if you begin practicing things like meditation and mindfulness regularly.
Hopefully, you’re not on the path to burnout, but if you are, Stress Awareness Week is the perfect time to do something about it that will help you get back on the path to more peace instead.
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