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8 Burnt matchsticks arranged from burnt to ashes - Blueprint Career Development

Managing stress before burnout

According to the Bureau of Statistics, 75% of Australians surveyed say that stress in their lives adversely affects their physical health. 64% of those surveyed also say that stress negatively impacts their mental health.

These are extraordinary figures that should make us take a long hard look at what we are doing and what we need to change in our lives. So, if you are on the road to personal or professional burnout, the tips below may help save your sanity (and maybe even your life!)

Life seems to be operating in fast forward mode with many of us attempting to run at warp speed to keep up. We multi-task in almost everything we do, usually with a sense of desperation and limited success. This keeps our nervous system on high alert and ready to go into “flight/flight” mode.

Slowing down allows our endocrine system to stabilize so that it releases beneficial calming hormones rather than cortisol and adrenaline which we really only need in emergent situations (like being chased by a bear). We are simply not meant to operate in a highly activated state for very long before it becomes detrimental to our health and wellbeing.

Slowing down does not mean quitting work or eliminating important life roles and activities. It does mean being selective about what is actually important to us and learning to say no to obligation and trivialities that clog up our calendar. Slowing down can be learnt so let’s start with some simple ideas for giving your nervous system a break.

• Meander more instead of speed walking. Do you really need to get there 30 seconds faster? Slow down, look around you. Feel your feet hitting the ground. Sway your hips. Take big breaths.
• Do one thing at a time. Trying to write an email, take a phone call and eat lunch all at the same time is a recipe for high stress arousal. Savour your meal, relax and then complete your tasks one at a time.
• Minimise mental clutter. Write jobs, ideas and information down so your brain is free to do its job.
• Take 10 slow deep breaths (or as many as you need to calm your jets!). Do this often throughout the day – it takes less than a minute.