Would you say you’re getting busier at work?
Are things picking up?
Is it beginning to look a lot like 2005?
How does ‘busier at work’ feel to you?
When you read those words, do you feel confident and excited or anxious and overwhelmed?
Do you think that you and the senior colleagues you rely on can handle the pressure that increased demand can bring?
I ask the question, not in A-Few-Good-Men-courtroom-showdown kind of way, but seriously, and with genuine concern.
You see someone I know very well experienced something last year that I now recognise as burnout. The sister of another friend suffered a breakdown over the summer that I now see was probably caused by burnout.
Long-term negative stress
The thing is, most people who are experiencing it don’t know what to call it.
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They feel exhausted or anxious, in a constant state of panic, overwhelmed or physically debilitated… or all of the above.
All they know is that they cannot go to work.
“Burnout is the result of long-term chronic negative stress”.
These people tend to be the high achievers because they demand so much from themselves in all aspects of their lives.
They are people like you.
Of course issues outside of work often exacerbate a stressful time in the workplace, causing capable people to crumble.
Issues like relationship problems, caring for a sick relative, fertility problems or money.
Lots of people get overwhelmed as one issue is compounded by another. It’s hard to see the wood from the trees when this happens but it is important to get support for the pieces you can.
The money thing, for example.
In my role as a financial adviser and planner, I come across people with complex financial lives.
Many of them have accumulated investment and life products over the years and may also have invested in complicated property syndicates and all manner of high-risk schemes.
Yet they are not confident that they have covered all the bases.
They worry about what might happen if any one part of the haphazard structure comes down.
After getting to know their needs and financial objectives, I often end up advising them to divest themselves of the complicated things.
We go through a process whereby we figure out what kind of a lifestyle they want – taking into account their family circumstances, their outlook, what’s important to them.
My job is to come up with a plan that will help them achieve that lifestyle.
Yes, there may be other worries, but it’s important to our mental well-being to feel in control of our finances, rather than feeling controlled by them.
The difference it makes to clients when they feel they have a plan is really quite amazing. It’s one thing off the list of things that keeps them awake at night.
So whether you recognize the signs of burnout in yourself or not, use the Christmas holidays to take a breath. Look around. Recognise who and what is important to you.
After all, there are five gears; we should use them all.