The Focus On You

Self-Care Is A Lifestyle

Tag: stress (page 1 of 3)

 How To Recognize Burnout vs. Depression

“Ugh work is so depressing.”

“OMG I’m so burnt out on school.”

I’m sure you’ve heard these phrases before. I think most people have used the terms “burnout” and “depression” when they’re describing how tired they are. Since I cringe when diagnoses are used loosely, I want to discuss the difference between the two.

We know that depression doesn’t discriminate but burnout can have a profound effect on certain populations of people.

Who is likely to be affected by burnout?
  • Caregivers
  • Anyone with a job (seriously)
  • Helping professions (therapists, social workers, nurses, etc.)
  • Stay at home parents
  • Entrepeneurs
  • Creatives
  • First responders
  • Medical professionals
  • College students
  • Activists
Who is likely to be affected by depression?
  • Any human.

Although many of the signs of depression can mimic burnout, this ailment is directly linked to our professional or identifying roles. Anti-depressants can’t treat burnout. Depression is a serious diagnosis made by a licensed professional and can be life altering. It’s not an adjective to describe why you’re overworked or exhausted.

Many times burnout is driven by a person’s passion or obligation to someone else. Click To Tweet In young professionals, burnout is likely to occur when they walk in with 150% passion and drive, and their expectations are not met.

What are some of the signs of a person being burned out?

Tunnel vision: People who are burned out from their profession start to get narrow sighted. They may have forgotten why they are in this profession or why they are in school. They are also likely to forget what they’re grateful for. Tunnel vision causes someone to forget the compliment last week or the stellar deal they landed last month. The weight of their routine and daily stressors cause cynicism.

Overcomplaining: Unfortunately, burnout effects bleed into all areas of someone’s life. If they’re burned out at work, they’ll gripe about it at home, and vice versa. When someone starts complaining about everything, everywhere, it is usually a sign that they’re struggling somewhere in their schedule. This is harmful for helping professionals because a foul attitude affects how clients or patients are treated. As a helping professional I can’t roll my eyes or gripe out loud. I have learned to check that behavior and it’s usually a sign I need to adjust my schedule or increase my self-care.

Are You Ok?: If people you associate with start asking you this, beware. You’re definitely on the road to exhaustion. It may be wise to ask the person what differences they notice in you. If they can give helpful feedback, maybe they notice that you’re not eating, you’re cursing more, showing up late or you have snappy remarks. If you notice your “tells” then it won’t take a breakdown or one-on-one with the boss to make you snap out of your behavior.

Making More Mistakes: People who are burned out in their roles will put less effort into their usual tasks. Bosses will skip the agenda for meetings, parents will cook less meals, caregivers may neglect cleaning duties, etc. Studies have even shown that people with signs of burnout show different brain activity when doing normal tasks. Can you afford to make mistakes in your line of work because you’re not addressing your burnout?

How to deal?
  1. For caregivers in particular, find a way to delegate some responsibility or ask for respite. You need a break in your routine and even a few hours can make a difference. Find a way to change the routine with the person you care for. Watch a movie together, bring in exotic cuisine, rearrange pictures or furniture. Shake things up!

  2. If your burnout is work or school related, you could also benefit from a change of routine and scenery. Clean up the clutter in your work area, beautify your environment, add visual elements that promote peace, study in a new location, study at a different time of day, etc. The answer isn’t to quit your job or school. You have to make the time you spend manageable and fit it to your needs. And please assess whether you have vacation or sick time that is unused. I have been overwhelmed/burned out by my counseling schedule and had to plead to a former employer for an office day to catch up on paperwork. It may sound crazy but I actually looked forward to a day alone in my office, with some music and a schedule that allowed me to kill my stack of paperwork.

  3. Readjust your goals or projects. Maybe your burnout is due to poor boundaries. Are you taking on too much just to please someone? Did you take on a full course load at school just to prove to your family that you could handle it? For the sake of your mental health, you should reassess how much you’re willing to take on. Don’t martyr yourself when no one is going to notice or be supportive of your struggle.

Seriously, routines can kill us. Exhaustion and stress can lead us to the emergency room. No one sees what we go through except us. This means that no one knows what we need but us. Click To Tweet Unfortunately, it took being diagnosed with fibromyalgia to slow me down. And now I have no choice but to ask for help and to honor what my body needs. No one can heal me but me. And everyone deserves a break.

“Without self-correction we cannot thrive.”

 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide To Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been a popular buzzword in wellness circles even though it’s a practice that has been used for hundreds of years. Various cultures around the world embraced mindfulness techniques to deal with everyday difficulties and to help honor religious beliefs.

Using a definition from “The Mindfulness Solution”, by Ronald Siegel, M.D., mindfulness helps us observe how we interpret distress, how to let go of destructive mental habits and replace them with more useful ones.

Mindfulness is a practice of slowing down, listening to your body, taking one task at a time, unplugging, etc. Being mindful means you focus on just “being” and not “doing.” Click To Tweet

Other benefits?

  • Reduces anxiety and social phobia.

  • Can be used with children, elderly and anyone with physical challenges.

  • It’s free. That’s not a typo. Yes, it’s free.

  • You don’t need insurance, a prescription or a specialized therapist.

  • Helps with personality disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Useful in drug and alcohol recovery

  • Encourages physical activity

  • Increases connections with others

Based on this checklist, I’m happy to tell you that you don’t need any tools, skills or special coach to begin mindfulness practices. The book I quoted above is a user friendly manual that includes mindful practices and exercises for relationship issues, health problems, chronic pain, aging and grief, plus many more.

On a personal note, having fibromyalgia and anxiety disorder, I have to practice a form of mindfulness daily. It’s so routine that I don’t even know I’m doing it. So, what has a lack of mindfulness cost me?

  • I tripped down the stairs carrying laundry because I wasn’t paying attention.
  • Fibromyalgia flares have cost me time at work and missing important family events.
  • Anxiety attacks in public places.
  • Forgetting to check my bank accounts because I’m multi-tasking every other damn thing you can think of! Overdraft fees add up!

How can you become more mindful? Let me give you distinct examples:

  • Mindful Walking: Although my friends enjoy when I Snapchat my walks with my pup, that actually disconnects me from the healing benefits of walking my dog. When I’m NOT taking pics and playing music, I focus on taking deep breaths, watching her stride, monitoring where she stops to sniff, turning my head to the sunlight & taking notice of my surroundings. Wherever you walk, be aware of how your body feels, how the sun or wind feels and what you see.

Example: I have worked with anxious clients on paying attention to their surroundings & examining them. How many white cars are passing by while you wait for the bus? What do the billboards say on your way to work? Count how many Hondas you see until you reach your destination. Wiggle your toes as you examine your surroundings. How do your toes feel as you wiggle them?

 

  • Mindful Eating: How many people eat lunch at their desk or eat breakfast standing up in the kitchen? It’s difficult having a chaotic schedule but slowing down our meals is actually therapeutic. Some mindful practices involve eating one raisin at a time and paying close attention to all aspects of the raisin. Is it chewy? Sweet? Can you resist eating it and just rest it on your tongue? I have taught clients to use gum or Starbursts as a way to “ground” themselves into the moment. When we’re nervous, overthinking or about to enter a scary situation, an edible object can be therapeutic, reminds us to slow our breathing and moves our body’s nervous energy elsewhere. Challenge: Try eating one meal this week without any electronics, television or distractions. I encourage you to watch your breathing and posture as you eat. Sit comfortably. Take smaller bites and chew your food more. Sip your coffee or tea one day this week taking notice of the flavor, temperature and the feeling it gives your body. See what you notice.

 

  • Kill JudgmentOne of the main tenets of mindfulness involves limiting judgment on our thoughts. For example, let’s look at this sentence: “It’s hot and there’s a lot of traffic today.” Is this statement a fact or a judgment with a million feelings behind it? This introduces you to the Acceptance Theory. If you accept that it’s hot, grab an ice water before hitting traffic and play your favorite Spotify list, how has your mood adjusted? Sitting in judgmental thoughts invites low energy, grouchy attitudes and impatience. Being more accepting reduces negative thoughts and doesn’t attach you to people or outcomes (remember one of the messages behind The Four Agreements: Don’t Take Anything Personal).

Try some of these mindful techniques and see how your mood changes.

Does your breathing slow down?

What facts can you turn from judgments to plain acceptance? Start telling yourself, “Well, it is what it is.” Become more neutral towards thoughts that used to get you angry or sad.

This week I’ll be sharing some mindful exercises on my Instagram Stories! Follow my page here!

 

 

Older posts

© 2018 The Focus On You

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: