I have been burned out at work. And it took it's toll on my life and my health. It detracted from strong relationships that I had built over many years. It affected my family life. It affected my health. I can recall many times waking up in the middle of the night; heart racing, in a cold sweat, with the fear of having to face it all again the next day. Yes, I had stress with my job like everyone, and there were high expectations at my place of employment, but that wasn't it. I can rise to those types of challenges. It was actually a misalignment in my calling and my daily work. At one time, my work in my field served great meaning and purpose in my life, but I changed over time, and so did my interests, values and passion. I had evolved to need something different to fuel my meaning and purpose. What I interpreted as burnout, was actually just friction between my daily work and my calling. And that was for me to figure out, not my employer. And I did. I don't have everything in my life worked out yet, but I know I'm on a path that serves incredible meaning and purpose for me and for what I have been entrusted to give to others. Not all cases of burnout require taking a new direction; some just simply require reconnecting with our original path.
Burnout is a type of stress that occurs when something you care about is at stake. In my case, what was at stake was my personal value to align my calling with my daily work. Today, one of my passions is helping people cultivate their personal resources to build resilience. It's helping people connect to what brings meaning and purpose to their lives. So if you feel as though you're experiencing burnout, take heart. You're experiencing it because you care greatly about something and your heart is trying to get your attention to find, once again, your source of meaning and purpose. It's never lost, it might just be buried under years of thoughts, emotions, images and replays.
My pastor once told me, "we are human beings, not humans doing". Sometimes, we need to put down our phone or our computer or walk outside of our office and just be. Be alone, be with others, create safe spaces for ourselves where we can recharge and then later, re-engage with our very important world.
So, actually, we need to talk about the opposite of burnout. We need to talk about resilience. Why? Because resilience is the antidote to burnout. But guess what? We generally aren't taught how to be resilient. Even still, resilience can be built.
Resilience can be built through a few specific areas. Keep in mind though that you already have everything you need within you. It's just a matter of bringing it into the light and consistently using it and sharing it. So, you are ready.
Mindset and Mindfulness: In particular, positive mindsets: I'm not talking about the kind of positive mindset that thinks that everything is sunshine and lollipops and there are no bad things ever. No, I'm talking about a mindfully-positive mindset that accepts, in a non-judgmental and compassionate way, what is; while acknowledging that with all bad comes some type of good. Maybe not right away, maybe not even for a while, but holding onto the hope that it will be there. Looking for the good in situations always. Looking at the silver lining of your stress. You don't stress about things that don't matter to you, because what you do matters. Meaning comes from a mindset focused on what matters most.
Knowing Your Strengths: Your strengths are core to who you are. These are the virtues that come naturally to you. You may not know what your strengths are, and that's OK. I knew some of mine, but certainly not all of them. You can find out by taking a free survey online called the VIA survey here and you'll receive a ranking of your strengths. Your top five strengths are called your signature strengths, but you have every strength on the list within you. You may only call them forward only at times when you really need them, or they may be in the background in use without your awareness of them. You can use your strengths to cultivate greater mindfulness in your life. And, you can use mindfulness to become aware of how you leverage your strengths and build strengths. It's a virtuous cycle. And it matters. They should teach this stuff in schools.
Caring for Others: Research has shown that for each stressful event in one's lifetime, the risk of dying increased by 30%, but with one major exception. For those who routinely spent time helping and caring for other people in their communities, there was actually no increase in risk of death whatsoever, even if they experienced more significant stressful events in their lives. Helping and caring for others also creates resilience.
We are individuals. What creates meaning and purpose for you will fuel your resilience; but, there is no cookie-cutter approach to building resilience. It is as individual as you are. The approaches I mentioned above are foundations to resilience, but this is a gift for you to discover. What matters most to you?
A Stepwise approach to building resilience can help, if you are concerned about burnout. Make sure to contact us to get started.