The pace of life today is crazy. Many people juggle multiple responsibilities — work, home life, caregiving and relationships. How many times have you felt like the demands, expectations and time pressure are exhausting and relentless?
Humans aren't programmed to go through life without rest, solitude or downtime. With everything going on, it’s easy to get blindsided by stress and burnout. So, it’s important to beware of symptoms and acknowledge when your responsibilities start to become too much to handle.
The symptoms of stress can include head and muscle aches, upset stomach, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, lack of focus, over- or under eating, angry outbursts and social withdrawal. No one is superhuman. You need to recognize and then respect your limits.
Here are three tips for keeping burnout at bay:
- Ask yourself, “What’s important now?” If you’re driving, pay attention to the road. If you’re having dinner with a friend, be engaged and present. Don’t play around with your phone. It’s not only distracting; it’s disrespectful.
- Quantify the commitment. Before you agree to sit on a committee or host a dinner party, recognize that it means giving up time that can’t be replaced. Anticipate that the time commitment probably will be longer than your initial estimate. Factor that into decisions about what’s worth your time. Be willing to say “no.”
- Make yourself unavailable. It’s OK and important to set aside time for yourself. Schedule it on your calendar, and don’t let other responsibilities encroach on that time. This may mean saying “no” to some requests.
In addition to these tips, it’s also important to maintain healthy habits in order to prevent burnout. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep at night, eating healthy meals during the day and exercising regularly will help give you the energy to take on life’s myriad of responsibilities.
Tiffany Casper, D.O., is a Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in Tomah family physician.