World Health Organisation is defining burnout as a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. The symptoms are listed as feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job and reduced professional efficacy.
The highlight of this definition is the stress that has not been successfully managed. Managing stress is a skill that can be learned. Some of you are lucky enough to work for a company that has already taken effective measures to avoid their employees reaching the point of burnout. However, some of you need to do it by yourself. Either way, it requires your motivation to recognise and solve this issue.
Our feelings at work are mainly triggered by the external factors and stress is nothing different. When a person at work, your boss, colleague or a team member behaves in a way that you do not expect them to behave, you will feel stressed. Same applies to your work. When you have an expectation from your work but you are not satisfied with what it offers, you feel stressed. When you are loaded with too much work and you believe you cannot handle that load, you are stressed.
Your stress is also following you out of work environment. Even if you are on holiday or finished your work day, your brain will still be busy with thinking about the work. Maybe its intensity reduces but your stress will follow you everywhere you go.
Managing your work stress has two folds, managing your mind and managing your body to support your mind. Managing your mind is going to require larger part of the work because stress is a feeling and it starts in your brain. In this article, I will talk about mind management.
Feelings are vibrations in your body created by your own thoughts. Managing your mind is choosing your thoughts intentionally to create the feeling you want. Instead of using your habitual thought pattern, you choose a thought that serves your purpose. When you are at work and your stress is triggered by an external factor - let’s say you are given an additional assignment to your current workload at work - your habitual pattern may suggest thoughts like, “I already have too much to do”, “I am not able to finish all this work” or “I am not sure if I can handle this”. These thoughts will create stress. It will cause reduced concentration, creativity and joy which will affect your overall productivity.
When you choose to manage your mind, you decide to choose how you want to feel and choose your thought intentionally to create that feeling. In the same circumstance where you are given an additional assignment, you can choose to feel differently by managing your mind. However, the first step is to focus on your greater purpose. Connect with your purpose and think about how this additional assignment may help your purpose. Maybe you need money to support your dreams and your life, maybe you want to be the CEO of that company, maybe you are not sure about your purpose and your current job gives you freedom to find out your purpose.
When you can make these connections between your purpose and your current situation, you are ready to think intentionally and create the feeling you want. If you want to feel aware, you can think “My current job is serving my purpose”. If you want to feel confident, you can think “I am ready to work hard to realise my purpose”. To feel acceptance, you can think “Everything is happening as they are supposed to happen”. By feeling aware, confident and acceptance you will for sure create more for yourself compared to when feeling stressed.
Mind management is not surrendering your current reality, it is about giving a new meaning to your reality which will help you create the life you want.
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Have a great day!