I’ve recently picked up The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness by Robert Waldinger, M.D. and Marc Schulz Ph.D. The book offers insights into Harvard findings in over eighty years of data. Waldinger and Schulz reveal the resounding truth that relationships are the key to a happy life. Relationships are proven to impact our immune system, stress, depression, cardiovascular disease, longevity, and overall physical and mental health.
This book has caused me to think about relationships beyond our inner circle. In my burnout research it became evident that community, specifically coworkers and leaders, have a profound impact on our wellbeing at work. They can impact our engagement and motivation, thus impacting our performance. They can elevate us or tear us down. They can offer support or leave us stranded.
This past weekend I was honored to join an author panel at a women’s empowerment conference. I spoke about the importance of...
Have you ever taken a team-building course and participated in some form of trust-building exercise? If so, this is because trust is a key element in the workplace and one of the most critical to high-functioning teams.
In a 2017 Harvard Business Review article “The Neuroscience of Trust,” Paul J. Zak shares study results showing high-trust cultures experience significantly more:
They also indicated forty percent less burnout.
Even more exciting, data also showed that offering trust before trustworthiness is demonstrated improves the likelihood of trustworthy reactions. Meaning, we can improve a culture of trust by offering trust before its earned.
Vulnerability breeds trust, which is shared through conversation and connection.
Active listening, meaningful questions, displays of interest, asking for help,...
What would you do if I told you in one month you would have to run a half-marathon?
Like strength-training our muscles to lift heavier weights or endure longer physical stress, we can train our nervous systems to better manage mental and emotional stress.
When your sympathetic nervous system is triggered and your body is expecting to fight or run, it will remain in this state until your bodily response informs it that you are safe. Unfortunately, our advanced human interpersonal skills do not send a message via body language, informing our sympathetic nervous system that we are safe.
While there are many ways to send the proper message to your body, the trick is to physically exert energy (fight or flight) and then promote a feeling of safety. You can practice methods to calm your nervous system in an immediate moment of stress, and also prepare it for resiliency and quick recovery for moments of routine stress.
Here are some methods to try while in an immediate fight-or-flight...
We all know there is an emotional, mental, and physical cost of burnout. From diminished health to damaged relationships, even the impact on children in homes with a burned-out parent. There is a social and personal cost to burnout that can only be measured as priceless.
However, we can also acknowledge that there is a very real financial cost to burnout. The World Health Organization estimates annual drop in productivity due to burnout costs the global workforce approximately $1 trillion. Further, the American Psychological Association calculates approximately 550 million workdays annually are missed due to stress. That’s over three days per employee.
Of course, this will vary by person and company, but here are some interesting estimates to ponder.
$3,100+ = Individual Estimate, assuming ~6 month recovery:
$0.00....... = Therapist: 16 free sessions through company EAP
$600........ = Neurologist for migraine management: 1x
Have you been the “lucky” survivor of a layoff? Maybe gifted a role in an emerging department? Perhaps you were over-promoted, which happens more frequently than we like to believe. These white elephants often lead to immense workload. Even if you haven’t been ‘honored’ with opportunity to take on more work, we all live with the exponential performance expectations of capitalism.
Chicken soup for the overworked soul includes sharing opportunities for growth, task and attention management, and reducing overall responsibility. Evaluate your responsibilities, consider which you can shed, and make a plan to do so.
SHARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH
Sharing or delegating work can be counterintuitive to achievement-oriented professionals. Most of us were raised with achievement conditioning, so it’s very likely that you struggle handing over assigned tasks when you know you can do it better. Or perhaps you convince yourself that training someone...
I was recently asked whether personality assessments are a good predictor for how someone might respond to job stress. Would certain “types” be more prone to burnout?
My love for personality indicators started in high school when I discovered that I’m an Aquarius, which propelled me into studying psychology and working in HR. But let’s be real... personality assessments are only good for two things in the workplace:
*Interpersonal skills are enhanced when we realize that the world is made up of diverse people, and that we all benefit from that diversity. Understanding this helps us plan communication more effectively and adjust our expectations appropriately.
So, what is a good indicator of how a person may respond to work stress?
Capacity & Expectations
A person’s capacity and expectations of key workplace areas are the best indicator of how someone might respond to work stress. The key areas are:
Burnout is characterized by three key components:
... but we all know there are many other manifestations of burnout. Irritability, brain fog, poor sleep, and anxiety (inability to sit still / anxiousness) are all very common signs of chronic stress and burnout.
If you are feeling any of these signs, or recognize your own unique manifestation of stress, try these steps to halt the feeling of burnout.
1. Stop the stress response of your nervous system.
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