Everything changes at the turn of the year. At least it feels that way having had a needed break from work and the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. It also offers the chance to consider what the brand new year might bring and contemplate how we are going to make 2014 one of our best years yet.
Unfortunately, most of us will squander this moment for reflection and instead go back to work as usual all set to embark on another 12 months of 'more of the same'. If we're working in a job we no longer like and in a company that no longer feels right, that can put us under damaging, unrelenting stress.
Sadly, all too many of us are exactly in that position. In fact, a YouGov survey for major health insurer BUPA found that of the 10,000 people it surveyed, some 44% identified themselves as suffering from stress. Take those figures and apply them to the UK population as a whole, and that's almost six million men and women who feel up against it on a daily basis. That's not just bad for the individuals involved, but their families too.
If you try and battle through the stress that you're feeling, it can eventually get the better of you and you end up 'burnt out' - "a state of emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work", as the internationally acclaimed Mayo Clinic puts it.
So don't go into 2014 thinking that you have to put up with the world as it is, because you don't. There are things you can do to make your life much, much better.
1. Don't ignore the signs of burnout. If you are suffering from low energy levels, if you don't want to get out of bed in the morning, if you feel that you can't even take on the simplest of tasks and if you have begun to believe that you're 'not up to the job', then you could be experiencing its first symptoms.
2. If the idea of carrying on in the same way as last year is already making you feel anxious, you should begin a 'detox programme' by starting to take small, simple steps to distance yourself from activities that make you feel worse and avoiding saying 'yes' to everything for Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
3. Look for ways to add 'happy things' to your life and to think more positively. Just giving yourself permission to go for a walk, read a book or enjoy a special restaurant meal, can all help to counterbalance the negative effects you have been experiencing. And, when you come up with a 'worst case scenario', make a deliberate effort to see the other side to every coin by creating a 'best case scenario' as well.
4. Start practising the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO), something that I believe will be a hot new trend this coming year. Our lives are becoming more complex and unless we manage to deal with all the additional pressures we're facing, burnout will reach epidemic proportions. By adopting the JOMO philosophy you will establish your own clear boundaries for technology use and so stay in control of it both at work and in your private life. This will enable you to be as productive as possible, without become overwhelmed by the invasive online environment that's all around you.
5. Don't put off seeking the support you need to combat burnout because you think it's a sign of your weakness. It's quite the reverse. In fact, very often it's the most talented and well-motivated individuals who are at greatest risk because of the unrealistic pressures they put on themselves, often trying to meet others' unrealistic expectations. When it comes to altering our ingrained habits and behaviours, having a third party perspective is invaluable in helping us get out of a rut and to be able to see the wood for the trees.
6. Take responsibility for improving your own physical wellbeing by exercising regularly and eating better, don't skip meals and live off snacks, for instance. If you become run down, you will be more susceptible to colds and whatever else is going round, which won't help matters. If you want to be successful you need to be well, so keeping fit and healthy is not optional.
7. Better still, if you are burntout through working for someone else, then why not start working for yourself? While becoming self-employed or starting a business is never without its problems, it does put you in control of your own destiny in a way that's just not possible when you work for someone else. Gaining a sense of control over what you're doing is one of the best remedies.
Many of us tend to make New Year resolutions, most of which we never follow through. However, if burnout is getting the better of you, then taking the action necessary to rid yourself of it, has to be one of the best promises that you can make to yourself for 2014. So make sure it's a promise that you keep.
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© 2014 Maite Barón. All rights reserved. If you'd like to use this blog for your ezine, newsletter or website please feel free, but do include a live link to my website and the following attribution: "Maite Barón, 'The Corporate Escape Coach™', enables 40+ executives and professionals to break free of the corporate rat race by helping them find out what is next for them in their professional life. For some that is to help them understand what work they were born to do. For others it is to help them find a better job in a more suitable corporate culture. For more and more, it is to help them transition from employee to self employed, to ultimately start a business as 'New Entrepreneurs'. You can find useful resources, sign up for free reports and read more articles at www.TheCorporateEscape.com
This Article was first posted on the Corporate Escape Blog