A few weeks ago as I was speaking to a group of young people about “Effective time management for long-term success”, some of them shared that for several weeks already they had been experiencing constant stress, exhaustion and insomnia. These are the first signs that they are heading toward burnout or might be already suffering from it.
Burnout IS bad
I was in a similar situation several years ago and know what it means from my own experience. It IS bad. Sometimes it all starts with a real interest in many things and a passion to change the world – with the attitude that “I can do it all.” Then several months later you find yourself dealing with so many projects, tasks, and activities, and working such long hours, that you are overwhelmed. Sometimes it all happens as you are either consciously or subconsciously running away from personal problems, trying to get recognition from other people, or trying to prove something by doing “so many great things”.
But whatever the reasons behind it, the result is that you are exhausted and having trouble sleeping, which heavily impacts or threatens your health, relationships and job. “What to do and how to reduce stress?” are the right questions to ask, otherwise trouble is around the corner.
Here are some effective steps I’ve used personally to reduce stress at work, get back on track and avoid burnout.
1. Stop accepting new responsibilities
The first thing you absolutely must do is to stop taking on any new tasks, projects, etc. until you deal with what you already have. It is obvious that you’ve already taken on more than you can handle. Don’t make it worse.
Imagine your life as a glass of water that you need to hold and walk from point A to point B without losing a drop. The glass (life) can only hold a limited amount of water (tasks, projects, activities) for you to complete the walk without spilling any. If the glass is already full or even overflowing, you cannot walk at all without spilling, and if you add even more water, you are guaranteed to spill even more. So, if your glass is already full to the top, you need to empty some water before you can walk from point A to point B without losing a drop.
2. Take a break
Once you recognize that you are dealing with exhaustion, you absolutely need to take a break – one day will help, a few days will be even better. Talk to your boss if you are working for someone or to your team if you are running your own business. They will understand. And if your boss will not – do you still want to work for him/her? 🙂 Your life is more important than any job in this world.
The purpose of taking a break at this time is to help you achieve 2 important things:
- relax and have a good rest
- regain focus and make a plan to deal with this stressful situation
Oh, and don’t forget to turn off your phone and internet. You’re on a break, meaning you are not available. This is your time, use it without distractions.
3. Cut back on any commitments you can
List all of your tasks, projects, and activities, and goals in business and personal life that are pressing you right now.
Then cut back on any commitments you can, meaning:
- stop doing some things completely
- delegate some things to someone else
- postpone some things – they can be done at a later time
Your goal is to have only a few important things on the list at this point.
4. Deal with Urgent and Important things first
Start with those commitments that are Urgent and Important and write an action plan for each of them – this will help you to take the most pressing issues off your shoulders first.
Focus on these issues and don’t switch to any other tasks or activities until you have dealt with Urgent and Important first. (Related post: 2 Simple Steps To Help You Choose Between Equal Priorities)
5. Get support from friends and family
The natural tendency for many of us when we are stressed is to avoid those people closest to us. Don’t miss the importance of support. Family and friends can help you greatly in this stressful situation. Spend time with them, have fun and ask for help.
There is a hope, so if you are overloaded and stressed, start today – don’t wait for a better day 🙂 Let me know in comments if these steps have been helpful for you, or share your own unique approach. I would love to hear from you!
Have a less stressful day! 🙂
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