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Stress at Work? How to Avoid burn out.


You are passionate, you are ambitious, you are there to achieve at any and all cost. Nothing wrong with it, really! However, for many, success comes at a cost. There are sleepless nights, OCDs, anger issues, and continuous stress leading to psychosomatic and mental health problems. Obviously, all of this leads to ill-health and unhappiness. An adage I use is: Expensive bed, cheap sleep. 

So how does it work? When our mind registers any danger, crises or panic, our system automatically, or non voluntarily releases cortisol to fight the emergency. That is totally alright – it is a like a Stone Age man running away from a beast to save his life. The only difference being that the Stone Age man’s system returned to balance once the danger was gone. For the modern man, this state is continuous, and too much release of cortisol leads to further stress. 

It is a scientific fact that cortisol is high in the morning. Ever wondered why yogis meditate first thing in the morning? Meditation, or even a simple deep breath, releases serotonin in the brain. In layman terms, serotonin is the relaxing chemical, or a mood uplifter. 

Work stress or personality stress?

Recently, I saw a video footage of a farmer in his 100s working like a normal middle aged man with acute senses, and all his cognitive abilities in place. Stress? What stress? An average person retires at 60. There are people who shout and scream and sweat all the time but have no signs of a burnout, whereas a quieter person might be on the verge of a panic attack. 

How does it work? Of course, there are theories that we are controlled by our genes, ecosystem and childhood trauma, other than stress in the present moment. Another way of looking at is that a short tempered person might be releasing his all negative energy, while a visibly stoic person might be bottling it up. 

How to create a balance at work? 

  1. I think first we need to understand that work is a part of life, not life in its entirety. Treat it like that. Passion is good, but obsession that harms you is a poison. 
  2. As a professional, whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, please be aware than panic and crises will happen. Most trouble is alleviated by being prepared for it. Be aware that when a crises happens, it will also pass. Take a deep breath and plan action. Don’t think the worst. Keep your imagination in check. It is funny how worst consequences come to our mind first and stay. I read somewhere: 99% of things we worry about don’t happen. 
  3. Plan your day and work: When you plan your day, you are also planning to be in the moment, and not be thinking ahead. Do the task at hand with full focus. I know sometimes you are chasing a challenging task or chasing an improbable timeline. At this time, be focussed on the present. Like it or not, you can only control the moment. 
  4. Be mindful: Mindfulness is already a mass movement with the likes Thic Nhat Hahn giving talks at Google about mindfulness. Be completely focussed on the task at hand. 
  5. Breathe: As silly as it may sound, breathe. If it is possible in your workplace, go to a corner for a couple of minutes and do couple minutes of deep breathing (use any app for guided meditation, if your mind is very chatty). This will lead to better focus and productivity. 
  6. Sleep: I have come across so many heroic statements from people who take it as a badge of honour to miss their sleep to work. Our body repairs us only when we sleep. Studies have shown our productivity and attention to be drastically effected by lack of sleep. So, please sleep properly. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try yoga Nidra before hitting the bed.

These are just few of the tips, and I intend to do many parts to this. Let me know in the comments if you would like a part 2.

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