Things naturally tend to get a bit more hectic during the holiday season, but the majority of people spend the entire year juggling whatever life throws their way. Life can be overwhelming and when we are faced with those challenging times we have to be able to recognize our situation before things get out of control.
Stress is basically our response to daily life. Sometimes stress can be positive, sometimes negative. When stress is not dealt with it quickly becomes burnout. Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.
People have passed through our programs that are clearly in a burnout phase and are either struggling to recognize it or struggling to recover from it. It's easy to say, "this too shall pass," but consider the expense to relationships and your health if you are not proactive in reducing the amount of stress you have in your life. When not dealt with properly it will lead to burnout.
How do you know if your stress is leading you down the road of burnout? Some symptoms include: headaches, fatigue, stomach cramps, diarrhea, difficulty concentrating or remembering, depression, poor self-esteem, moodiness, weeping, or problems in relationships.
You may be nearing burnout if:
Everyday is a bad day.
You feel exhausted all the time.
Caring about home/work seems like a waste of energy/time.
You feel like you don't make a difference and aren't appreciated.
You don't see hope in your situation.
If any of this sounds too familiar to you, then now is the time to begin the recovery stage. Start by simply slowing down. Regulate your schedule more. Don't be afraid to say "no". Is it possible for you to take some time off? Whatever you need to do to stop the chaos, stop the chaos. The second step is to get support. It is hard, sometimes, to admit we need help, but this is the time to reach out. Find a support system in family, friends or co-workers. A support system can point out what you sometimes don't recognize in yourself. Finally, reevaluate your goals and priorities. What is most important to you? What do you want in life? What do you value most? Those are the things you should be focusing on most.
I read an article recently called "Top Five Regrets" by Bonnie Ware. It discusses the top five regrets dying patients have pointed out to her. It's interesting because sometimes we get lost in the day to day, but in the end we may find what was important to us today wasn't really important after all.
Regret #1 - I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. We make the choices in our lives. Make choices that are true to you.
Regret #2 - I wish I didn't work so hard. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscience choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do.
Regret #3 - I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. Open honest communication provides less stress for you over the course of time.
Regret #4 - I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Busy lifestyles take the place of friendships. Make time for the people that matter most to you.
Regret #5 - I wish that I had let myself be happier. Many people didn't realize that happiness is a choice. Instead they stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.
As you wrap up 2011 and look forward to 2012, make yourself a priority. Take some time to reevaluate where you are now and what is important to your future. Make yourself part of the goals you set for 2012.
Ian and I wish you the happiest of holidays this season and many great memories for the coming year.