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We’ve all felt it. That feeling of, “I’ve had enough. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore.” Call it job stress, fatigue, or whatever, many of us have experienced it and, as a result, may even have thought about a change in careers. (I’ve often thought about becoming a railroad conductor because of my love of trains.)
Some stress is good but as Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of www.MeQuillibrium.com recently wrote in Forbes, too much stress is toxic and can lead to burnout.
Ms. Bruce lists four signs you are headed for burnout: work-life balance has become an issue; anger and anxiety have become signature emotions; conflicts are an everyday obstacle; and your passion has become your pain. Her suggestions for combating each of the four signs of burnout include:
1. Your work-life balance has become an issue. When you feel stressed around work-life balance, you haven’t “failed” at balance—it’s just that your drags are winning. You need sufficient “lift” to counter the drags. Regain focus on lifts by making sure that you actively seek out things that boost your mood (try cooking dinner, sleep and exercise, not cocktails and take out) and make you feel connected to the people in your life—which takes a lot of the sting out of your stress response.
2. Anger and anxiety have become your signature emotions. Next time you feel anger or anxiety eroding your focus, stop and get a gut read. What caused this feeling? Was it an overdue project that you fear will ruin you? Or the idea that you don’t have the resources you need? Emotions are triggered by a thought. When you can nail that thought and map its origin, you can expose the fear and address the anxiety.
3. Conflicts are an everyday obstacle. Conflicts are both the result of stress and a major contributing cause. Stay connected. If you’re fighting, that means there’s still time and energy to address what’s not working and why. Be even more fearful of when you pass the point of conflict—because that dead zone, total disconnection, is much harder to come back from. Make it a point to turn the tides here. For the recurring arguments, call a brief face to face with the people involved to get past the miscommunications and assumptions and defuse the tension. Make a show of good will, own up to your own part in the confusion, and resolve it in time to maintain rapport and teamwork.
4. Your passion becomes your pain. A sign that things have taken a downward turn is that the very thing that once inspired and energized you now drains you. Flagging passion is a sign something’s gone wrong. While it may be a flawed business, it might be that a different approach will reignite potential, and your passion.
What are some ways you have dealt with the possible onset of burnout?
Although it can be particularly difficult to find the time when you are working against a deadline, exercise can be the best tonic. It allows your brain to "relax." I'm able to streamline my thoughts. I always return from a run with a list of ideas.