(4 mins read)
Before we start let me share a controversial thought… STRESS IS GOOD! Its based on my personal experience. And I really do like acting in a middle of a stressful situation, in a crisis. It gives me an adrenaline shot, a drive, a positive stimulation to do something new, unique and innovative.
What isn’t good however, is when we operate in an environment where there is too much stress or we are exposed to a stressful situation for a longer period of time. After an intensive meeting or a limit-testing marathon at work we need to slow down, we need to rest, we need to relax. If we do not then there is a high probability that even a person with high resilience skills will experience a burnout risk.
HUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!
Many of us are familiar with the Apollo 13 story. Maybe some of us watched the Hollywood blockbuster: “Apollo 13”. To say that the Apollo crew faced a stressful situation is a massive understatement. The mission aim was to land on the Moon, however because of unexpected events it had to be interrupted. Due to an oxygen tank ignition and later explosion. Life support systems could not operate. Imagine this: you are far away from Earth in a closed capsule with no operating systems, limited oxygen. Did they panic? No! Together with mission controllers in Florida, they challenged their intellects, found innovative solutions for many problems and they managed to come back safely to Earth.
Were they super humans or the Avengers? No… they were trained to deal with stressful situations and they knew how to react. Before they had departed for the mission they were trained to keep thinking and how to solve problems in life threatening situations. A methodical recruitment and selection at the beginning helped to select specific individuals and personalities.
The picture below represents in a simple way, a relation between stress level and time. It is clear that it is important to avoid entering a burnout zone. After many hours in the office or after several days of stressful work our resistance to stress is not improving, it is actually decreasing. We are less resilient and more fragile. When we are exposed to stress for many long hours or days even a small exposure to additional stress can break us and we could collapse. Once we enter a burnout zone we need to reduce stress level, get some rest or walk, otherwise it could be dangerous and could lead us to a permanent exhaustion.
First, you need to know yourself, your limits, your resilience. Look at the questions below. They will help you to reflect.
- What was the level of stress in scale from 1 to 10?
- What was your reaction in this particular situation?
- Did you continue with your task or you had to stop?
- What happened next?
- Was there a need to get some rest, sleep or a recovery?
Analysis of your past experience will help you to get to know your stress management skills and resilience. Deep dive into your past will help to reflect in present to be ready in the future.
There are two main focus areas which will help you to stay away from the burnout zone: WELLBEING and EFFICIENCY HABITS.
Specific habits or activities will help you to manage your energy level. What and when you eat is critical. Then you need to get a proper sleep. If you are not well rested caffeine will help you function, but your intellect and social skills will be impacted. Do not forget about exercise. It should be adjusted to your skills, abilities first. Do not wake up one morning and run a marathon. It could be the first and the last one the same time. There is a high probability of a serious injury.
6. Are you satisfied with your dietary habits?
7. When you wake up in the morning can you function without a cup of coffee?
8. Do you exercise regularly, 2-3 times a week?
So eat… sleep … exercise … and repeat!
Every day we spend 8-10 hours at work. If mismanaged or not organised well, work can be a significant factor directing us towards a burnout zone. First, and the most important element is to have priorities. 5-10 priorities will help you to focus on the most important projects or tasks. The priority list will help you also say “no” to many requests which are nice to have or not important. Carefully selected priorities will help you be in a driver seat and control what you want to execute and achieve.
Additionally, there are two critical areas linked to our working style and efficiency at work: email and meeting etiquettes. If you need more information about these critical topics please explore specific links.
The questions below will help you reflecting on this topic.
9. Do you have a top priority list?
10. Do you prefer multitasking or single-tasking?
11. Are you satisfied with your email writing skills?
12. Are you happy with your meeting management skills?
Additional tips related to efficiency can be found in a separate blog. Click on the link below:
At the end, there is a surprise for you. I wanted to ask you to do a small exercise. Reading this blog will not help you to avoid entering a burnout zone in the future. A moment of reflection and a conscious adjustment or change of your habits will transform you into a STRESS BUSTER. So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, take a notebook and read this post one more time. However, this time do it in a different way, please answer all questions you find in the text. Note your thoughts, reflections, habits you want to start or stop. Finally put down 3-4 the most powerful actions which will help you to manager stress in the future.
Continue working on your resilience and stay away from the burnout zone!
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