What you have to give to yourself, your friends and family, society, and to your work… is You – only You.
You do not have to be the best at anything. To be worthy, have impact, be a leader and create your own future.
Burnout is real for too many people these days. There is increasing demands on employers to cut cost and have fewer people do more. Often more than anyone can reasonably do in a normal day, week or month.
Our personal lives often leaves little room to decompress. We must have interesting, healthy, active, selfie worthy lives. Be good parents and caring friends.
With many it starts while still in school. The ever present inflation in requirements to get a regular job and have a ‘worthwhile’ career. For too many it’s diverting energy and focus away from learning, to just performing.
We are increasingly preoccupied with now. At the expense of our past and the long beautiful journey ahead of us.
But we can all try and slow down, so we can get to where we want to be, a little happier and a little faster.
All we are capable of
The level of stress, pressure and challenges most humans are able to endure, constantly amazes me. It is in many ways more remarkable than the creativity, kindness and sustained hard work we are capable of.
Some are good at taking care of themselves, knowing their limits, getting support from others. Too many are not, or worse – don’t know help is available to them, and they are worthy of it.
Pain is relative to the individual. Step by step we move our threshold for stress. How much resistance we can handle and overcome. How long we keep going before taking a break.
Thankfully, we have stepped up as individuals and global human society. We are increasingly paying attention to minorities, those in crisis and individuals in need of a little lift to get back up.
We are slowly but surely moving towards inclusiveness. With all we are capable of – it is not a far fetch dream.
And look back at your own life. You are more capable as a whole person now, than just a few years ago. Build on that foundation.
People are afraid of taking even their normal holiday, not wanting to be out of the loop for a single week. We are checking emails and messengers and updates on evenings, just before bed, first thing in the morning. Saturday, Sunday – while the kids are playing soccer or attending dance class.
It’s unhealthy, it doesn’t make sense, and it’s wearing people out in a young age. If not physically, then much too often mentally and emotionally.
Besides the negative health and life quality impact. It’s bad for business and careers. We cannot learn, create or bring much value to any situation without rest and outside inspiration. It’s called ‘time off’ for a reason.
Sleep is your most important creative and performance enhancing activity. For your body to recover, and your brain to make sense of, and create context out of all you have seen and done in a day.
Spending time with friends, family and people unlike yourself is a close second. The importance of friendship and feeling we belong cannot be understated. And the inspiration we get from others is invaluable.
Spending time away from screens, out in nature if you can, being active – is as important. Get your pulse up, it releases endorphins that helps relieve stress and pain.
Call it cross training of your body and mind.
End of the day
What you have to give to this world, to yourself, your friends and family, your community, society, and to your work… is You – only You.
You may be working in a factory, in a school or office. Have people in your team reporting to you, outsourced resources, departments at your disposal – maybe you are a CEO or a nurse.
It is well worth remembering. That everybody, are just as human as you. And have all that they are – nothing more, to give.
“The day I can’t help others – I know I’m having a real bad day”
A good measure, is wether you have a little energy left to help others. If not – there’s a good chance you’re wearing yourself down. Then it’s time to rest and ask for a bit of help yourself.
The feeling of not being enough
Not doing well in the eyes of others is a big energy zapper, every day. A lot of mental energy goes into feeling inadequate, that you don’t measure up to expectations – you’re not enough.
People tend to isolate themselves. They can be in the same room with others, in the same meetings at work, attending the same social events. But they begin to share less about themselves, or exaggerate how happy they are,
Some claim knowledge and facts in areas they have little or no knowledge about. Attempting to carve out a little slice of time, where they can feel the same admiration and respect, they see others around them receiving.
Others adopt a persona, trying to become or be perceived as someone successful or popular. Which can lead to some quite unfortunate situations when the disguise fails. People acting out in public and on social media. Putting themselves deep in financial debt – and then feeling worse when it doesn’t pay off.
We play roles – to fit in, to adapt. . . and with time we can forget who we were in some ways. But reality is far more interesting than fiction. Your original script makes for a much better movie than any fiction !
We are all a big mess. Everybody have bad days, make mistakes, and repeat them. But if we become a little better, at allowing each other to be our true individual selves, we are always a success.
Remember . . .
Social media aggregator syndrome
The increasing presence of social media in our lives. Has added pressure, to appear to live a life that equals all our “friends” combined experiences.
All the combined happy moments, celebrations, fantastic holiday photos, shopping sprees, belongings, family, friends, parties . . . becomes the measure for what a normal, happy and meaningful life looks like.
It becomes the expectation for which benefits, and how many, our job should come with, for us to feel valued and respected. Where each of us have one or two, as is normal.
We should all celebrate each others good moments in life. Click that like button – if you mean it. Wanting some of what others have is natural. But remember there’s a million ways to live a good life, and yours is one of them.
Dream big, it’s ok to want more from life. But being able to pay rent, have food on the table and pay for school – is a big enough achievement.
Mixing work, social and private
When we use the same tools, apps and methods to communicate at work, in school, socially and in private. We are blurring their boundaries.
Our phones are always with us. Blinking, beeping and begging for our attention at all times. We are making it near impossible to separate them.
Our social and private life is no longer separate in how it feels. Further adding to the feeling that we are always working. Equally making it difficult to unwind, and take our work serious when we should be.
Mixed with the imposing culture of shortening communication. And the language and lingo we use becoming less formal in all settings. We are chatting our way through both work and private life. It impacts how critique and requirements are perceived when coming from management and customers.
A friendly and casual atmosphere is welcome. But it can create boundary and cultural issues if we are not sensitive to them.
Strive to make each work message, email and phone call a significant step forwards. Reduce the frequency and opt for more complete communication.
And with your friends. Make it about shared experiences, emotions, dreams . . . in any form and format you like.
As convenient as it may be, to have everything in one place – and not having to master 5+ different apps just to communicate. It is healthy to make an effort to compartmentalise them, and quiet them down – not only during off hours.
Learning to say no
It’s important we learn to recognise when we are close to our limits, and slow down. Saying no to ourselves and others.
Planning ahead, preloading – is the best possible way to “say no”. Knowing how much you’re capable of, consider room for unforeseen events. You can do it well in advance, notify of possible delays, enquire about latest possible delivery dates. Prioritise and request input and resources from others accordingly.
It’s important to embody the concept that it’s not a rejection of the person, team or situation. It’s important we remember to clarify that. And work with them to clearly set expectations for when we’ll be back on track.
This is as important in business as it is in our personal lives.
Keep in mind. We tend to pay particular attention to the times people say no to us, more than all the times we get a yes. No – often makes us feel rejected, when it’s not moderated or qualified. The yes comes in many flavours; it may be silent, self evident, by not getting resistance. We rarely count all the yes’s we receive.
Therefore be prepared to answer questions on why you say no. People deserve and need to understand why, to a certain degree. It helps them accept and be comfortable, that you will deliver according to the new agreed timing.
We must also accept, that some things cannot be delayed, others depend on us to do our level best. And we have to get on with it !
Do not ever use a polite and well argued ‘no’ to avoid your responsibilities, arbitrarily try and change your job – or eke out an extra day off. Or you will soon find yourself with nothing to do at all. It’s much better to have an open conversation with the people you work with. Ask nicely, they’ll understand.
Ask for help !
All too many are reluctant or afraid to ask for help. We feel we should be able to handle everything, others are more in need than us, it will make us look weak or less capable.
Women in particular feel the world will judge them as poor mothers if they can’t handle everything themselves. And men are especially good at running themselves into the ground – so not to appear weak.
And then there is the question of who to ask. Who can we trust will listen objectively, and can we trust ourselves when we are tired and stressed? When there are no straight and easy answers.
Cultivating good habits and practicing asking questions in general will make you more comfortable with it. It willl broaden your network, and not least give you a better and more realistic view on what a single person should be capable of. Thus helping you set realistic expectations for yourself.
Listen to your body
Stress and mental fatigue mostly creeps up on us over time. We push ourselves, move our boundaries, work increasingly longer hours, see our friends a little less week by week.
The symptoms will be subtle to begin with. And you will most likely ignore them – same as you didn’t take a couple of days off last time you had a cold, but instead nursed it for an extra week – still at work.
Your energy and mood goes down, more headaches, trouble sleeping, you worry more. . .
If you don’t react to those signals, or are lucky to have good people around you who picks up on it. Then your body will send you stronger physical signals – literally trying to incapacitate you.
Bad stomach, physical fatigue – cramps – numbness, your pulse hammering in your ears when you try to sleep, migraine headaches, nosebleeds, skin rashes. . .
When your body is speaking this loud, when its finally overshadowing all the noise from being stressed. Then it’s really time to listen, it’s well past the time to see your doctor.
Please look out for people around you – care for each other.
Taking care of your mental and physical health is important. Finding brief slivers of quiet time for yourself makes a positive difference.
Find a calm and quiet place 3-4 times during the day – or create it by shutting out your surroundings. Which takes practise, and is in itself a good calming and self focusing exercise. Just 5 minutes – thinking about nothing, or as close to nothing as you can get. It will help you to a calmer mind, a chance to soft-reset your day and start again.
Taking care of your physical health is at least as important. And can in itself have a considerable positive impact on your mental wellbeing. Walking, yoga, jogging, swimming… even just stretching for 10 minutes every day makes a difference. Any activity will help connect your mind with your physical body.
Team sports, our adult term for ‘playing with others’. Will further elevate your game – pun intended :). Or simply being active together with others. Playing with your children, go for a walk with a colleague or business partner. Get off the bus or train a couple of stops early, if you are lucky enough to live in a safe area. And walk the rest of the way home with a neighbour – who you might otherwise never get to know.
Gaining energy from helping others
Some times, when your task list is overwhelming, you’re stuck, feel drained from trying to push on. When your head hurts form hitting walls all around you. Those are perfect days to go out and help others.
When you’re mentally drained, doing something physical for others, or listen to and help them with the challenges they have. It will take you away from your own troubles for a while. You will find energy and confidence in being able to give to others. You realise that all you have learned from boxing, climbing and shovelling your way through your own problems – can be of immense value to others. Those who right now experience what you’ve been through in the past.
Go down to the local community center, the church – even if you’re not religious, the local shelter, grab a bag and collect trash in your neighbourhood. There’s always someone who can use an extra hand, something that needs doing – someone who will be inspired by your actions.
Is it worth it?
Giving everything you can in a given situation, pushing your limits, exploring new things that scares you a little. Yes – absolutely, keep at it.
Is it worth feeling stressed, depressed, less worthy, anxious? Absolutely not, never!
Helping people under that kind of stress. Is possible the best way you can spend your time and energy.
You do not have to be the best, #1, Top5 … in everything – or anything. To be worthy, have impact, be a leader, change the world and create your own future.
You are all you have to give.
You are all you have to give.
Photo by mentatdgt