Recently, I met up with a friend who had just started a new job. It was the end of her first week she was so excited about the role and enthusiastic about the work, she had thrown herself into it and was feeling the effects. She had worked so hard that when Friday night came, she needed her slippers and the sofa not the cocktails and dancing that were planned. Battling on, she came out and tried to enjoy the evening but after a single glass of wine, she was literally falling asleep at the table.
She felt under the weather for the whole weekend and was annoyed with herself for taking such poor care of her well-being that she couldn’t enjoy her friends and her personal life in a way that would provide balance to her hard work. She spent a fairly miserable weekend trying to recuperate and promised herself that this wouldn’t be how she continued in this role. From that day, she made a commitment to herself to look after her well-being and maintain resilience so that she would be able to give equal amounts of energy to work, life and self.
How are we in a situation where people feel burnout just from a normal week at work? And what can we do about it?
It seems like the world is such a busy place today. Technology means that we are constantly connected and seem always in demand, in fact, social media makes us want to be needed in this way because we’re constantly craving that dopamine hit that comes with a notification or message or email (Simon Sinek explains this here). There’s more happening today than there was 20 years ago. There are more choices about how we spend our time and we have more disposable income it seems so we can enjoy these opportunities. The compression of time and space makes work more demanding and causes it to creep further and further into our personal lives. The digital revolution brings communications to the palm of our hands which blurs the line between work and life and, if we’re not careful, it can tip the balance towards more work and less life.
We have to bear in mind though that for many of us, working life will be over a longer period than we envisaged and we also need to look after ourselves in order to sustain our energy and continue our efforts. How often have you reached Tuesday and felt so tired it’s like you’ve worked a week already? You might get home on Friday and find you are grumpy and miserable because you have been flat out all week and now too tired to go out or enjoy the weekend the way you would like to.
Building and maintaining resilience means that you can cope, bounce back or recover from the challenges life throws at us. It’s about having the energy to deal with whatever comes a long and maintain a positive attitude come what may. It’s being able to adapt quickly and adjust to new or changing circumstances. Some consider it to be having a ‘toughness’ that allows us to manage in difficult times and come out even stronger.
How can we build resilience? Here are some ways you can develop and maintain resilience in everyday life:
1) Take a step back and consider how you are spending your time – do you need to be doing everything you’ve signed yourself up to? Can some things wait or could you delegate tasks and responsibilities to someone else? It might be hard to let go but you don’t have to do everything yourself and if you try, it will have a negative impact on your well-being so make sure you are being realistic and being as efficient as you can.
2) Look after yourself – are you making enough time for yourself? If you don’t already, maybe you could meditate, swim, start a yoga class or treat yourself to a regular massage. If finding time for a class is difficult, or money is tight, there are lots of options on YouTube for yoga (my favourite is Yoga with Adrienne) and meditation (The Honest Guys) or if you fancy a massage but don’t like the price, check out your local college and see if they offer any deals with their students.
3) Eat well – when we’re busy and tired, it’s very easy to grab a quick bite or fill up on junk and yet we know that eating the right things can make a big difference. Think about cooking from scratch. It doesn’t have to take a long time, I find that if I get home late and need something quickly, stir-fry is my saviour. Another option is batch cook and freeze for those days you want good food fast (find some good batch cooking recipes here).
4) Practise mindfulness – if like me you have a million things going round in your head, practising mindfulness can be a useful technique (See Bemindful.co.uk ). No matter what worries I have rattling around in my mind, I try and focus on whatever it is I’m doing at that time and save the worry about where I have to be next for later. Whatever is going on, it helps to focus on the moment you are in.
5) Have fun – enjoy the lighter things in life. Make sure you have fun times with your friends or have a regular activity that you enjoy, even better perhaps if it’s something you love but are not good at! The ‘tuneless choir’ is exactly about letting go and enjoying yourself. Even in work, as Mary Poppins famously said ‘find the fun and snap, the job’s a game!’.
Has your world become more busy? How do you maintain resilience in a crazy world? Share your thoughts in the comments below.