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Maintaining Sanity in Tumultuous Times

In times of tumult, it’s easy to get caught up on a variety of unfavorable issues making the news

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In times of tumult, it’s easy to get caught up on a variety of unfavorable issues making the news. However, this is an ill-advised practice.

It doesn’t matter on what side of the political spectrum you fall, these days, you can quickly open a newspaper, surf the web, flip on the TV, or tap your smartphone and find news items from around the world that are not to your liking. If this happens to you once a day, consider yourself lucky. For most people, it happens multiple times a day.

In the face of stirring change, remember: All we can do is all we can do. Become the master of your own domain and that will be fine. Open up your intellectual kimono to every other issue that comes your way, and you’ll soon feel frustrated and defeated.

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Equanimity Matters

Here are four tips that trainers you can put into place now to maintain some semblance of equanimity throughout the course of the day, week, month, year and your career, despite what news comes down the pike.

1.  Pick a handful of issues that you choose to follow and/or support. You can’t be on top of everything or offer your heart out in all directions. Narrow the field to what really matters to you and then give yourself permission to dive deeply into those issues.

2.  Don’t waste any time sparring online with others or trying to convince anybody else of your viewpoint when it’s clear that they’ve already dug in their heels. It’s fine for people to arrive at consensus, but it’s a mutual process. If one party is too invested in achieving a particular outcome, when the other is not, nothing much is going to happen.

3.  Give yourself a recurring rest from current events. That in turn helps to alleviate some of your stress and anxiety. You’ve likely got decades to go in this life. You don’t want to dissipate too much more of your time on issues upon which you can do nothing. Pick your spots, stay true to your interests, and recognize that it will be all right.

…You can take time away from the information maelstrom. There is no cosmic scoreboard in the sky detailing whether or not you’ve kept pace hour by hour or day by day. You deserve a break today. Give yourself a little bit of time without tuning in.

4.  Recognize that breaking news, as well as fads and what is currently trending, goes by the wayside quickly. Rather than get caught up in the minutia of popular culture, focus on long-term trends:

* Where is humanity heading?
* What will the health be of the typical adult in five years?
* What major milestones will be reached within five years?

The Long Game

By focusing on the long-term, rather than fads or current events, you give yourself the opportunity to consider events in the world from a better vantage point.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout is regarded as a distinct type of stress related to demands on the job, and you can keep it at bay

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In this ever-changing, covid-plagued era, many people today are experiencing unprecedented pressures and stressors. As the stress builds up over time, these individuals suffer from burnout and feeling as if there is no time for their lives.

Burnout is a term that has made the rounds in business and general literature over the last decade and a half. It’s actually a unique type of stress that involves:

* diminished personal accomplishment,
* emotional exhaustion, and
* de-personalization.

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Although researchers are still exploring the nature of burnout, it is widely regarded as a distinct type of stress related to demands on the job.

At Risk

Who is most susceptible to burnout? Those in helping professions, or in positions that have significant amounts of interpersonal contact. This includes people in customer service departments, municipal services, and health care.

While burnout is costly to organizations, unfortunately, those organizations in which employees feel the effects of burnout, often do little to be of service. How do you know if you’re heading for burnout, or are already there?

Have you been evaluating yourself negatively lately? Does it seem to you as if you’re not making any progress or have even lost ground? If you feel as if you are not as competent and successful doing your job as you have been in the past, you’re experiencing the sensation of diminished personal accomplishment.

Depersonalization

Another clue to burnout is depersonalization. This occurs when you rotely do what you’re supposed to, but withdraw emotionally from what you’re doing. In the health care industry, this could be characterized by a nurse who follows correct medical procedures, and is cordial with patients, but no longer cares about them on a personal basis.

In business, depersonalization can be seen as detachment, a blase attitude towards peers, clients, or customers, and perhaps to one’s organization in general. If you begin to see others as objects rather than human beings, beware, you could well be on the burnout path.

The third component of burnout is emotional exhaustion. Here, it feels as if you don’t have the capacity to respond emotionally to others. Your energy level is low. You are irritated or tense. You know that you can’t give of yourself like you have in the past. Following a long weekend, or time away from work, you still loathe the thought of going back to work.

Emotional exhaustion often is the first of the three characteristics to appear when you’re in danger of experiencing burnout. Long hours and heavy demands can drain your emotional resources. People who may have been optimistic about what they could achieve on the job, and had high expectations for themselves, are particularly susceptible to burnout as they begin to experience set-backs and frustrations.

Antidotes

Among the emerging antidotes are 1) the ability to know, observe, and be involved in the outcome of your efforts, and 2) the opportunity to engage in a self-evaluation.

The first remedy allows you to maintain a mental link between what you do and what results occur. Said another way, it’s highly stressful to work at a job all day long, perhaps interacting with many, many people, and not know if what you’ve done has been of value, or been appreciated.

The second remedy, self-evaluation, involves looking at what you do with some measure of objectivity, perhaps using a chart, checklist, or scale developed during less trying times, that includes most of the key components of your job description and responsibilities.

One of the best safeguards for not falling prey to burnout is to accept the input and advice from others. Your spouse, co-workers, and friends often are able to notice changes in your behavior that may be detrimental to your well-being, long before you are aware of them. Please, listen up when somebody says “take it easy.”

If you’ve ever saw Star Trek: the Next Generation, you know that when Counselor Troi told Captain Picard to take it easy, at first, he always resisted. Then, he relented, and followed her advice. Captain Picard, I postulate, never missed a day on the bridge due to burnout.

Tune Up the Old Bod

Particularly if you’ve been putting in long hours and facing high-expectations, schedule a regular preventative medical exam, complete with cardiovascular and cancer screening tests. Many people who appear to be in good shape find out the hard way, either through a heart attack or sudden death, that all was not well internally. You and I don’t have the capability to determine how well everything is going on inside, solely based on the way we feel and perform.

Some top athletes in our time, among them Pete Maravich, Hank Gathers, and Sergei Grinkov were in top physical condition, but perished at an early age because of long-standing coronary problems that went undetected. In some cases, well-conditioned athletes who act with unknown coronary problems, actually live years past the time when a non-athlete in the same condition would have lived.

By the time you reach your forties, and certainly mid-forties and fifties, heart disease becomes the leading cause of death. Heart disease is brought on by a variety of factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking too much, experiencing too much stress, getting too little rest and so on. Curiously, as more women rise to higher and higher ranks within organizations, the risk of heart disease rises as well.

Surrounded By Workaholics?

Despite the well-known, high prevalence of stress and burnout in the contemporary working world, and the resulting dangers, some organizations still maintain a culture in which employees have it tougher than it needs to be. Too many managers have the misguided notion that only wimps are stressed. These are the same managers who tend to give out stress in abundance. If only they knew that stress is real, and exacts a cost on both individuals and the organization.

Someday, organizations will be held responsible, both socially and legally, for the mental health and well-being of their employees. Until that day, you’ll probably need to accept it as a given that if you want to flourish in an otherwise potentially stressful environment, there are not many places you can look for help. You’re going to have to help yourself.

Suppose you work with a boss who unduly heaps piles of stuff on your desk with little or short notice? What are some of the strategies you can employ to keep your job, maintain your relation with your boss, and yet not be overwhelmed?

When Your Boss Wants You to Be a Workaholic

With great tact and professionalism offer these words, “I’m really over-committed right now, and if I take that on, I can’t do it justice.” Other appropriate responses:

* “I appreciate your confidence in me. I wouldn’t want to take this on knowing my other tasks and responsibilities right now would prohibit me from doing a great job.”

* “I’d be happy to handle this assignment for you but realistically I can’t do it without foregoing some other things I’m working on. Of tasks a and b which would you like me to do? Which can I put aside?”

* “I can do that for you. Will it be okay if I get back to you in the middle of next week? I currently have blank, blank, and blank in the queue.”

* “The number of tasks and complexity of assignments I’m handling is mounting. Perhaps we could look at a two or four week scenario of what’s most important to you, and when the assignments need to be completed, versus what I can realistically handle over that time period.”

Flexibility Matters

All the while, stay as flexible as possible. Frequently, your responsibilities and assignments will change. Your ability to adapt to your boss’s needs will go a long way in helping you flourish at your position,  and diminish the feelings of being overwhelmed.

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Life

130 Things for Which to Be Grateful

Whether it’s a person, object, form of entertainment, place, or concept, everyone can be grateful for many things

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I asked around and learned some of the things for which people express gratitude. Whether it’s a person, object, form of entertainment, place, or concept, everyone can be grateful for many things.

While some items on the list might not apply to you, most are items for which we can all be grateful at one time or another in our lives:

People & Relationships

Family
Friends
Good teachers
Role models
My boyfriend
My girlfriend

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My parents
My children
Babies
Siblings and cousins
Coaches
Mentors

Family reunions
Engagements and weddings
Pets
Nice wait staff
A kind landlord
High school reunion

Health

Generally good health
The ability to walk
Breathing
My genes
Good hearing and eyesight
A Sound Mind

Safety and Security

Police and Fire Departments
U.S. Military
National Weather Service
Freedom of the press
Freedom of religion
Domestic Privacy

Modern Luxuries

Clean water
Mouth wash
Cars
Public transportation
Air conditioning
Clothes that fit

Washers and dryers
Work at home jobs
Being employed
Book publishers
Financial aid
The ability to own property

Technology

GPS
DVR
Pandora
Computers
Smartphones
The Internet

iTunes
Powerpoint
Photographs

Entertainment

Movies
Broadway shows
ESPN and ESPN2
TV news
Learning Channel
History Channel

Fashion
“Retail therapy”
Xbox, Gameboy
Books
Concerts
Art

Sports

Running
Skiing
Rowing
College basketball
Tennis
Skating rinks

NHL
MLB
NBA
WNBA
Olympics
NFL

Foods

Good food
Mexican food
Sushi
Pizza Fruit
Ice cream
Crunchy peanut butter

Cream cheese
Beer
Tea
Chocolate
Asparagus
Miso soup

Places

The USA
National and state parks
Social scenes
Bars
Whole Foods, Earth Fair, and Trader Joe’s
Costco and Sam’s Club

Coffee shops
Public schools and universities
Swimming pools
The beach and mountains
Shopping malls
Cruise ships

Arboretums
Vancouver
Niagra Falls
NYC

Nature

Pretty weather
The arrival of spring
The arrival of fall
Thanksgiving
Freshly cut flowers
First snow

Concepts

Learning
Formal education
Lessons learned
Experiences
Respect
Ability to change

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