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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Beat burnout this year

Saturday, January 11, 2014
Hope you had a refreshing break over the holidays. Even if you were only able to take a handful of days off I bet you feel better than you did in the final weeks of last year. If the last 12 months left you feeling worn out and stressed, you may have included ‘better work-life balance’ on your list of New Year resolutions. ‘Balance’ is a fairly vague term, so in order to make this resolution ‘stick’ beyond the end of January it’s important to know why balance is important for you and to establish workable plans to make it happen. Let’s look at some of the elements of what constitutes a good work-life balance.

First, examine your balance of energy for you versus energy for others. When we do things for other people, whether it’s our job, or personal, it takes emotional energy. That expended energy gets replenished when we do things for ourselves, leaving us ready to give again. But if you neglect giving back to yourself, your own well of giving energy can be totally depleted; then you may become gradually unwell both physically and mentally. What it takes to re-fill your emotional energy stores, and how much it takes, varies. If your work is in the caring professions, or if you have a family to look after, or both, you’re particularly vulnerable to burnout from over-giving to others and under-giving to yourself. (Tip: If you’re unaccustomed to giving back to yourself, you might have trouble imagining practical ways to give back to yourself. Think ‘fun’ things to do.)

Next, look at your physical self-care – eating and exercise. ‘Eating well’ means nourishing your body at the right intervals, and knowing what you’re eating. In practical terms, that means regular meals, and stopping to eat so you get to really savour the food. Obviously, healthy food is better than junk, but you know that already! Exercise is another important element of physical self-care. Our bodies thrive on movement and stagnate without it; plus, exercise helps burn off cortisol, the stress hormone. Some form of exercise every day is essential for balance in life.

Finally, examine your emotional well-being. That encompasses a wide range that includes management of life’s stressors, feeling connected to your spirituality (whatever form that takes), spending time with friends and significant others, and very importantly, ensuring there are fun playful times and humour in your life.

Now that you know the important elements of work-life balance, take a little time out to establish which areas  you need to work on for your own well-being, the actions you plan to take to make it happen, and, of course, why work-life balance in these areas is important to you. It’s the motivation behind the action plan that will help you really make it happen.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy 'Always tired? Maybe it's adrenal fatigue'



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