Stress, Burnout, and Life Balance

How healthy do you think you are?  Most Americans think they are in excellent, or at least very good, health but according to a report by CIGNA Healthcare Americans aren’t as healthy as they think.  Aside from the common physical risks of being unhealthy there are also emotional risks to being unhealthy and too much stress in our lives.  Here are some tips to help you deal with stress and burnout. 

According to a report released yesterday by CIGNA HealthCare, Americans aren’t as healthy as they think.

“Most Americans think they are in excellent or very good health, but when it comes to healthy habits – exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and managing stress – their actions don’t always match their words.”

We all know about the physical risks associated with having unhealthy habits, including living with too much stress in our lives. But there are also mental and emotional risks associated with it.

Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say:

“Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to demanding work situations. Burnout is the cumulative result of stress. You may be more prone to burnout if:

  • You identify so strongly with work that you lack a reasonable balance between work and your personal life
  • You try to be everything to everyone
  • Your job is monotonous
  • You work in the helping professions, such as health care, counseling, teaching or law enforcement.”

You don’t fit neatly into any one of those categories? Why should you care? Simple: Because stress and burnout make it more difficult to lead the life that you want to.

Have you ever:

  • Felt a general dissatisfaction at some point in your life?
  • Suffered from lack of enthusiasm for a period of time that made you uncomfortable?
  • Had difficulty concentrating?
  • Experienced emotional fatigue?
  • Worked really hard, yet accomplished little?
  • Had difficulty having fun?

You may have been suffering from burnout-related stress (not the positive stress that can help you grow and develop).

Life’s too short to be overly stressed or burned out. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve missed out in their careers or in their personal lives, especially as they look back upon them.

Take the time and deal with stress and burnout. How? The easy answer is to figure out what’s causing the problem and get rid of it as best you can.

Practically speaking, this means the following:

Set reasonable goals and priorities. Don’t overbook yourself. Organize and prioritize your desk, email, phone, life, etc..

Set limits and boundaries. Say “no” and make sure other peoples’ expectations aren’t driving you.

Take time for yourself. Go back to the well and do what you know works for you or try to figure out what does. Change your routine, try new things – investigate, read, explore, experience, take some time off, LIVE!

Stop engaging. Avoid the news and email and on-line chats and forums that require immediate responses from you. Don’t show up to every argument. Walk away instead of feeling like you have to state your case or defend yourself.

Find support. Look for an outside set of eyes and ears to offer you a new perspective on things.

I know it’s stating the obvious, but the CIGNA study gets it right when it says: “Lifestyle choices contribute significantly to many health risks, but
most people can make meaningful changes in health behaviors with the
right support system and strategies that fit their personal needs and

Sometimes life balance is about getting rid of those things in your life that simply aren’t working, and things that cause stress certainly qualify for elimination.

Tina Turner said:

“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

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