Last week we talked about stress and how too much of it can lead to a forced time-out. There are many stages leading from stress over frustration to an official burn out syndrome, and every person experiences them differently. These stages are not necessarily sequential, nor are they always experienced with the same intensity. Let's have a look at what those stages roughly translate to, and where you might be at right now.
Imagine you're in a new job, just started a new position, of course you want to leave a great first impression with your employer, your colleagues, and not least of all yourself. You might even feel like you've got something to prove to your parents, your partner, or your former employers, so it's natural that you put in many hours in the first few weeks or months to find your footing. I've once been told that it's the actions of the first 100 days in any new position (or relationship, or city, or country) that count and set the pace for the long-term future. If you prove yourself during those first 100 days, you're good to go.
But what if you can't find a way to dial it down after that time? What if bosses and co-workers alike got used to having you there at all hours picking up the slack with a smile on your face? You can't start complaining or asking for a more detailed job description now, honey, after you've been doing such great work all these past weeks! Well, yes and no. Let's have a look at the burn out clock (modified from material I received during my first coaching):
The stages 1 through 12 are not meant to represent a certain time interval, although the first three months as described above might coincide with the three motivation and fun stages of "euphoria" as depicted above. So, how do you know that the fun part has stopped? Only you can answer that. Do you find yourself thinking about work all the time? Do you take your laptop home to get stuff done after dinner or on the weekends? Has your partner started complaining? Are you having trouble getting a good night's rest because you're worrying about work projects? Do you think that's normal? Do your colleagues have the same going on in their lives? In my humble opinion, just because it's happening to many other people you know doesn't make it right, and you always have a choice to change at any time you so decide.
If you feel overtired and overworked, a friendly chat with your neighborhood coach might be in order to see how they might help you prioritize, organize your time better, and strike a balance between all that is important to you. If you're actually starting to develop physical symptoms, suffer from ulcers, migrane headaches or heart palpitations, it's high time to see the physician of your confidence. Stress and burn-out might be sniggered at in your circle of colleagues as lah-di-dah complaints for the lazy and faint-of-heart, but they're certainly to be taken seriously. Prolonged periods of stress will wear your body and your mind out to the point where you will fall ill. With stress-related and burnt out patients, that illness is the bodies' desperate attempt to force them into relaxation. Why let it get so far, when a strategically timed hot bath, gossip session with the boys 'n girls, and trip to the movies/beach/spa of your choice can take the edge off and recharge your batteries quite effectively? Besides, you don't need me to tell you that your hand-held telecommunications device has an OFF-button, do you?
Writing this gave me ideas about more related subjects, like learning to say "no", psychosomatic illnesses, general balance exercises, and relaxation techniques. Which would you most like to read about? Let me know! For more information about stress and burn out, you can also refer to the American Institute of Stress and pages like Revolution Health.
Til next time!