Sometime back I had asked visitors to this blog if they thought they were heading for a burnout and had given some indicators as well as suggested trying out The Karmic Ally Coaching Experience Burnout Self-Test.
That post http://karmicallycoaching.com/are-you-on-course-for-a-burnout/ also looked at some of the triggers of burnout for professionals and the danger of burnout consequences spilling into one’s private life impacting their relationships with family, friends and loved ones.
Today I am going to begin to address a question that I was recently asked. – Can burnout be prevented or treated?
I would say, yes, burnout can be prevented and treated if required. It is easy to confuse stress and burnout as they have many common characteristics.
The key difference is that burnout often takes place over a longer period of time and seems to affect those professionals who were once fired up about their work and enjoyed the adrenalin rush with full engines on but now find their attitude towards work has changed or have become disillusioned with the workplace which in turn affects their performance.
Are You Suffering from Severe Stress or Burnout?
If you are not sure, I encourage you to download The Karmic Ally Coaching Burnout Self Test and do a quick check. Test time is less than 4 minutes and you can begin to take action right away with some quick tips in this post.
What you can do today to prevent burnout
The first step towards preventing or treating burnout begins with getting familiar with the symptoms and if possible, identifying the possible cause. Preventive strategies and techniques used for stress management work for burnout management as well and if you already know some stress management techniques, do use them if you feel that you are heading for a burnout.
A point that I would like to mention is that burnout is a physical and psychological response that is connected to feelings you begin to have about a work or life situation. Hence it is imperative to address the mind as well as the body when treating burnout. In this post, we’ll address Mind Management.
One of the first things I would suggest is to schedule in an hour of “Me Time” into your daily routine. It may feel like a lot of time which a stressed out person would prefer to put to get the job done, but this 1 action can make a world of difference. That 1 hour is when you do what you want to do. It could be tinkering under the bonnet of your car, pottering around the house, cleaning up your desk, reading a book, going to the gym – it’s YOUR time and your wishes take precedence over all else.
Your personality type also affects your predisposition to develop burnout. So a person who has a strong need for approval, a low level of assertiveness, a perfectionist or who prides himself as a people-oriented professional would be more likely to develop burnout than a task-focused. The key to burnout management here is to understand yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, recognize your behavioral patterns and stress triggers and then choose the methods with which you intend to manage your daily stress. Asking for help from a professional, a trusted colleague or even your mentor should not be ruled out.
Invest in developing skills that help you in dealing with stress. This includes meditation, muscle relaxation techniques and positive self-talk to name a few.
We keep talking about effective time management for managing stress but this does not mean cramming each living minute into productive work, it means taking time out to rest. Burnout management requires taking back control over your work and home life and clearly demarcating the time between them. In other words, no bringing work back home in the evenings!
As I had mentioned earlier in this post, burnout happens to previously driven professionals who find themselves disillusioned by the very work that once inspired them. It’s great to achieve goals and show the world what you are made of but it also helps to step back and do a reality check. Are your goals realistic? Are they taking you in the direction that you want your life to go or have they become tick marks on a Life To Do List?
If these questions made you stop and think, then I urge you to rethink your goals. The best goals are those that are personally meaningful. Once your goals match this criterion, divide them into short and long-term goals and then plan to achieve them in a practical manner. Revisit your goals from time to time to see if they still fit the person you are growing into. If yes, soldier on, if not, drop them and find new goals that motivate and inspire you but don’t create stress. Your goals should encourage you with a genuine sense of purpose, not a one-upmanship or professional rivalry.
To recap, the 5 things you can do as part of your mind management for avoiding burnout are
– Scheduling Daily Me Time
– Understanding your personality, strengths & weaknesses, triggers
– Investing in learning coping skills
– Time management that builds in demarcation between work and home
– Setting personally meaningful and realistic goals
Even if you incorporate 1 or 2 of the above tips into your burnout management strategy, you will notice a difference in yourself. Sometimes the change is subtle but those around you will pick it up since they are at the receiving end of your behavior.
These are my suggestions for strengthening your mind as part of a burnout management strategy.
Are there any other actions that you have taken to manage the same? I’d really love to hear from you in the comments box below.
PS. If you feel that you might be heading for burnout, do take the Burnout Self Test – it will provide some clarity for planning your next step in the right direction.
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