Ex­er­cise, stay pos­i­tive, turn off the tech 5 steps to help avoid burnout

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Burnout -

Re­spect all four di­men­sions Ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gist Alan Lyons, if we’re to stave off burnout and look af­ter our­selves, we need to look af­ter our four di­men­sions: our spir­i­tual, phys­i­cal, men­tal and so­cial/emo­tional well­be­ing.

“It’s like the four legs of a chair, be­cause if one of them is out of synch, it af­fects the oth­ers.”

Dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween com­pe­ten­cies and strengths

You need to strive for work-life in­te­gra­tion, more so than bal­ance, and ask your­self: “Are my val­ues aligned to what I work at?” Be­cause “you could work 100 hours a week and not nec­es­sar­ily have burnout, if there’s a strong sense of pur­pose and mean­ing in what you do”, says Lyons.

“Re­mem­ber, peo­ple can tell you what your com­pe­ten­cies are, but not what your strengths are. No­body re­ally knows your strengths as you do, which is some­thing that you are not only com­pe­tent at but makes you feel good. Align­ing what makes you feel good with what you’re com­pe­tent at is very im­por­tant in avoid­ing burnout,” says Lyons.

“When you’re burned-out you be­come very prob­lem-fo­cused and start to no­tice ev­ery­thing that is wrong with your life.

“It’s a con­stant in­ter­nal nar­ra­tive that builds like a wave un­til it’s ut­terly over­whelm­ing. You don’t feel like you’ve got choices, or have any in­put con­trol, when in fact you’ve got plenty.”

Be grate­ful for the lit­tle things

Lyons says one step of many in tack­ling burnout is try­ing to be­come more so­lu­tion-fo­cused, as well as be­com­ing aware of and grate­ful of the things we take for granted each day.

“All the re­search sug­gests that we’re ca­pa­ble of de­vel­op­ing a more op­ti­mistic mind­set if we choose to. When you’re be­ing pes­simistic, re­ac­tive and neg­a­tive, you start to catas­trophise and take ev­ery­thing per­son­ally.

“Op­ti­mistic peo­ple tend to re­spond to set­backs as in­ter­pret­ing that as be­ing less per­sonal, less se­vere and less per­ma­nent. You can start to de­velop this by notic­ing the change you want and start am­pli­fy­ing it. Change is hap­pen­ing all the time, but when you’ve got burnout you feel it isn’t and that you can­not move.”

Say no more of­ten

Ac­cord­ing to au­thor and per­for­mance coach Jane Downes, rather than blam­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion, we’ve got to take con­trol of our time man­age­ment and ca­reer de­vel­op­ment and bet­ter un­der­stand the trig­gers that are caus­ing us such stress. Rather than nec­es­sar­ily get­ting a new job, it’s more of a case of self-man­age­ment, while un­der­stand­ing the signs and symp­toms of burnout be­fore they man­i­fest.

“We need to get on top of our life by pri­ori­tis­ing our needs, work on our fo­cus and be aware of catas­trophis­ing what re­ally are small things in the big­ger pic­ture,” says Downes. “We need to watch our mind­set and the neg­a­tive thought stream run­ning in our heads. Also, don’t be afraid to say no more of­ten.

“We’ve got be able to switch off tech­nol­ogy at the end of our work­ing day and week. It’s very tempt­ing to sim­ply blame tech­nol­ogy for all this, but we’re the one turn­ing on the but­ton.”

Take reg­u­lar ex­er­cise

“In the face of burnout, it’s not al­ways sim­ply the best idea to up sticks and get a new job,” says coun­sel­lor and psy­chother­a­pist Siobhan Mur­ray.

“I’d be very much a firm be­liever that if you’re not able to re­solve the is­sues around your cur­rent job, then that’s what you will bring to your new job. So ul­ti­mately the goal is get­ting that chaotic life­style un­der con­trol.

“Start by set­ting bound­aries: don’t go in ev­ery morn­ing at 7.30. Learn to say no to work de­mands by re­lat­ing all else you have on your plate at that time. And also, take breaks from tech­nol­ogy. Peo­ple say ‘I can’t’, but you can: you can make that choice.”

Mur­ray is also a strong ad­vo­cate for reg­u­lar, mod­er­ate ex­er­cise: you may strug­gle with en­ergy to be­gin with, but within weeks your en­ergy lev­els will sig­nif­i­cantly boost, lift­ing your mind­set with them.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: IS­TOCK

“It’s very tempt­ing to sim­ply blame tech­nol­ogy for all this, but we’re the one turn­ing on the but­ton.”

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