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What Everyone Ought to Know about the 3 Phases of Burnout

What Everyone Ought to Know about the 3 Phases of Burnout

Burnout is a prevalent and serious issue in our fast-paced, demanding world. It’s a state of chronic exhaustion and reduced motivation that affects both your personal well-being and professional performance.

To effectively determine if you have burnout and address it,  you need to understand the three phases that burnout typically has. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of each phase, you can evaluate where you stand in your burnout journey. And take action to heal and eliminate your burnout before it’s too late.

Please read on to learn about the three phases of burnout and how you can assess which phase you might be in. I’ve also developed a complimentary  “How Bad Is My Burnout?” quiz to help you figure it out. Understanding your burnout phase is the first step towards healing and reclaiming a healthier, happier and more balanced life.

Phase 1: The Honeymoon Phase

The initial phase of burnout is called the Honeymoon Phase. During this stage, you experience high levels of enthusiasm, motivation and commitment to your work or a specific task. You willingly invest long hours, take on additional responsibilities and display an overall positive outlook. However, the excessive workload and relentless pressure gradually begin to take a toll, indicating the onset of burnout.

To evaluate if you’re in the Honeymoon Phase, reflect on the following questions:

  • Are you frequently working longer hours than necessary, neglecting personal time and relaxation?
  • Do you find yourself taking on more responsibilities without considering the impact on your overall well-being?
  • Are you experiencing an increasing pressure to meet unrealistic expectations and constantly striving for perfection?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be in the Honeymoon Phase. It’s crucial to be mindful of the signs and proactively address them to prevent burnout from progressing further.

Phase 2: The Onset of Stress

The second phase of burnout is characterized by the Onset of Stress. During this stage, you begin to experience heightened levels of stress: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The initial enthusiasm you had starts to wane as the demands of work or life take their toll on your overall well-being and performance.

Signs and symptoms of the Onset of Stress may include:

  • Increased stress levels, manifesting as persistent anxiety and unease.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion, even after getting enough rest and sleep.
  • Difficulty concentrating and finding it challenging to complete tasks efficiently.
  • Emotional instability, like irritability, frustration or frequent mood swings.

To evaluate if you’re experiencing the Onset of Stress, consider the following questions:

  • Do you frequently feel exhausted, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, despite attempts to rest and rejuvenate?
  • Are you finding it harder to concentrate and struggling to complete tasks efficiently?
  • Are you experiencing emotional instability, such as heightened anxiety, irritability or a sense of frustration?

If you identify with these symptoms, it’s crucial to acknowledge that you may be entering the Onset of Stress phase of burnout. Taking action to address these issues and implementing self-care strategies can help prevent burnout from progressing further. You may want to consider professional help from someone like me to ensure you’re getting to the root cause of your burnout so that it doesn’t progress to phase 3. 

Phase 3: Chronic Burnout

The final phase of burnout is the most severe and debilitating, called Chronic Burnout. In this stage, you experience a state of chronic exhaustion on all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You may feel emotionally detached from your work, experience a sense of hopelessness and develop a negative attitude towards your job or work-related tasks. Physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia and frequent illnesses, may also manifest and are common.

Signs and symptoms of Chronic Burnout may include:

  • Chronic exhaustion, even after resting and time off.
  • Emotional detachment and cynicism towards work or previously enjoyed activities.
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and a lack of motivation.
  • Decreased job satisfaction and performance.

Physical symptoms related to stress, such as headaches, insomnia, dis-ease or frequent illnesses. (I’m purposely writing it as “dis-ease” to emphasize that disease is merely the body in a state of un-ease; bring ease back to the body, and healing begins. The energy healing work I do with clients works beautifully for this.) 

To determine if you’re in the Chronic Burnout phase, reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you constantly feel exhausted, regardless of how much rest and relaxation you build  into your routine?
  • Have you developed a negative attitude towards your work or tasks, finding it increasingly difficult to find motivation?
  • Do you frequently experience physical symptoms related to stress, such as headaches, insomnia, dis-ease or a weakened immune system?

If you resonate with these signs, it’s crucial to acknowledge that you may be experiencing Chronic Burnout and you need to take immediate steps to address it. Support from loved ones, practicing self-care, setting boundaries and seeking professional help are actions you can take towards healing and recovery.

My Experience

In my personal experience, I went through the first two stages of burnout without really understanding how serious burnout can become if ignored. At the time, I didn’t have the knowledge or a proper support system and before I knew it, I was in the Chronic Burnout phase experiencing all the debilitating symptoms mentioned above. 

The scariest part was a serious dis-ease taking its toll on me physically as I experienced excruciating joint and muscle pain, painful burning in my stomach and other GI issues, poor quality sleep, night sweats, fevers, exhaustion, shortness of breath, and frequent ankle and foot swelling. It lasted for almost 2 years as the traditional doctors and western medicine approaches kept treating the symptoms rather than the root cause. Multiple visits to “specialists”, and multiple rounds of steroids and antibiotics prescribed without any diagnosis or true healing, sound familiar?

I was suffering and struggling, yet kept prioritizing work and trying to “push through it”. That’s when a friend led me to energy healing as an option which – methodically and gently – provided the ease and relaxation I didn’t realize I so desperately needed. I began to feel better almost immediately and felt healing on all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The healing was on a deeper level addressing the root cause and big positive shifts were the result. Shortly after starting with the energy healing sessions, I was led to other professionals who actually diagnosed my dis-ease and provided comprehensive treatment plans that included healthy lifestyle changes for permanent results.

Your Experience

What’s your experience in dealing with stress and potential burnout while trying to balance a fulfilling career with an equally fulfilling personal life? Do you think you may be prone to burnout or in the middle of one of these burnout phases? Understanding the three phases of burnout – the Honeymoon Phase, the Onset of Stress, and Chronic Burnout – provides a framework for evaluating where you might be in your burnout journey. 

If you’d like more help in understanding and evaluating burnout in your life,  here’s the link to take the complimentary “How Bad Is My Burnout?” quiz that I created to help you determine which phase you’re in. 

Recognizing what stage you’re in is the first step. Then, you’ll become aware of the signs and symptoms to watch out for as you take proactive steps to address them and heal your burnout, and prevent it from recurring at some future time when life gets challenging. 

Learn from my experience, and don’t ignore your burnout in the earlier stages. You can’t “push through it” hoping it’ll get better by chance.  

Remember, seeking support from loved ones, practicing self-care, setting boundaries and seeking professional help from someone like me are crucial in navigating and overcoming burnout. Prioritizing your well-being and taking appropriate action will pave the way towards a healthier, more fulfilling career and joyful life. Remember, it’s never too late to address burnout and embark on your own healing journey of self-restoration.

 

Photo by twinsfisch – Unsplash

The Connection Between Burnout and Your Physical Health and Wellbeing

The Connection Between Burnout and Your Physical Health and Wellbeing

In today’s fast-paced world, burnout is becoming more and more common. And the connection between burnout and your physical health and wellbeing is undeniable. 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It’s a condition where you’re completely depleted and feeling hopeless, frustrated and fatigued. Chronic stress that’s tied to burnout has a significant impact on your body and mind, and it’s essential to understand the effects of this type of stress to prevent burnout and maintain good health.

Chronic Stress Causes Burnout

Chronic stress is the most common cause of burnout. It’s the result of prolonged exposure to stressors, like work-related stress, financial stress, relationship stress, or health-related stress. 

In your body, chronic stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, triggering the body’s “fight or flight” response. When this happens, your body releases stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, to help you respond to the stressor. These hormones increase heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, preparing your body for action.

While the fight or flight response is needed for you to respond to acute stress that lasts from a few hours or days to a few weeks, it can be harmful when it’s chronic (lasts for months or years). 

Burnout’s Detrimental Effects on Your Body

Chronic stress can lead to the overproduction of stress hormones, which has detrimental effects on your body. These effects include:

Cardiovascular problems

Chronic stress is known to increase the risk of heart disease by causing the heart to work harder than necessary. It can also lead to high blood pressure, which can damage the arteries and increase the risk of a future heart attack or stroke.

Immune system dysfunction

Stress hormones can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to getting sick by picking up contagious infections and illnesses from others. 

Increased inflammation

Chronic stress can also increase inflammation, which has been linked to a range of chronic health conditions, including chronic joint pain, autoimmune diseases, heart disease and cancer.

Digestive problems

Stress can also lead to digestive problems like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux and excess stomach acid. Chronic stress is linked to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stomach ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Mental health issues

Chronic stress can have a significant impact on your mental health, leading to brain fog, the inability to concentrate, mood swings, anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. It can also worsen symptoms of existing mental health challenges and conditions.

Sleep problems

Stress can disrupt your sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and other sleep issues. Lack of sleep can, in turn, worsen stress and lead to a vicious cycle.

Muscle tension and pain

Chronic stress can cause muscle tension and pain, especially in the neck, shoulders and back. It can also worsen existing chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Managing Burnout and Chronic Stress

It’s important to understand that the effects of chronic stress are cumulative. The longer stress is present and not addressed, the more damage it can do to your body. So don’t ignore the signs of burnout and chronic stress. It’s crucial to take steps to prevent burnout and manage stress levels quickly.

Here are some ways to manage stress and prevent burnout:

Prioritize self-care

Self-care is essential for maintaining physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Taking care of yourself can help reduce stress levels and prevent burnout. Some examples of self-care include exercise/regular movement, getting good quality sleep, eating a healthy diet and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or intentional breathwork.

Practice time management

Effective time management can help reduce stress levels by allowing you to prioritize tasks and manage your workload effectively. This includes setting realistic goals, breaking tasks into manageable steps, delegating tasks to others, and scheduling time for breaks and relaxation.

Set boundaries

Crucial for preventing burnout is the setting of boundaries. It’s important to learn to say “no” to requests that are not essential or that will put too much strain on your resources. It’s also important to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, and allow and plan your time to include rest and relaxation. Hint: add it to your calendar.

Seek social support

Talking to friends, family or a professional can help reduce stress levels and prevent burnout. Having a support system can provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that often accompany burnout..

Practice being present (mindfulness)

Being present, or mindfulness, is a practice that involves being fully conscious of what you’re experiencing in the now – your present moment experience. And being fully engaged with it without distraction. If you’re lost in thought, reliving the past, worrying about the future, or going through the motions, it interferes with how you act in the present. 

The famous philosopher Lao Tzu said “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Being  present by focusing and listening to others during conversations, or with practices like meditation and deep breathing can help you feel more connected, reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Fully enjoying the little things in life, like savoring a hot cup of tea or coffee, or joyfully appreciating the blooms and wildlife in a garden during spring or summer, are other examples of being present. 

Take breaks

Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reduce stress levels and prevent burnout. It may not always be feasible, but a 5 to 10 minute break every hour is ideal. Taking a short walk, practicing deep breathing while stretching your body, or taking a brief nap helps recharge your batteries and keep stress levels in check. Listen to your body’s cues and don’t push through what it’s telling you it needs. Take that 10 minute nap if you’re exhausted. You’ll feel better afterwards.

Seek professional help

If stress levels are severe or chronic, it may be necessary to seek professional help. As an intuitive healing coach who specializes in burnout and stress relief, as well as a Corp HR burnout survivor, I believe everyone suffering with burnout deserves help to recover more quickly and effectively than suffering alone.  I know first hand how important getting the right  professional is to help you develop coping skills, manage stress and prevent burnout.

In Closing

The connection between burnout and your physical health and wellbeing is clear. Chronic stress has a significant negative impact on your body, and can lead to a range of health problems like cardiovascular disease, immune system dysfunction, increased inflammation, digestive problems, mental health issues, sleep problems, and muscle tension and pain. 

Because of this direct link, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent burnout and manage stress levels before it’s too late. Prioritizing self-care, practicing time management, setting boundaries, seeking social support, practicing being present, taking breaks and seeking professional help are all effective ways to manage stress and prevent burnout. By taking care of yourself and managing your stress levels, you can maintain good physical and mental health and wellbeing and avoid the detrimental effects of chronic stress.

Additionally, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout. These can include physical symptoms like exhaustion, headaches, and muscle tension, as well as emotional symptoms like irritability, cynicism, and a lack of motivation. Burnout can also lead to a decrease in productivity, quality of work, and job satisfaction.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of burnout, it’s important to take action sooner than later. Get  professional help, adjust your workload or take time off to rest and recharge. Ignoring burnout can lead to long-term and serious health issues and a decreased quality of life.

 

 

Photo by Alexander Grey, Unsplash

Burnout and Mental Health: How to Recognize the Signs and Take Care of Yourself

Burnout and Mental Health: How to Recognize the Signs and Take Care of Yourself

Burnout is a common experience that many people face, especially if you work in a high-stress profession or environment. Burnout can have a significant impact on your mental health. And it’s important to recognize the signs and take action to prevent it from spiraling out of control.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion caused by excessive or chronic stress. It’s often characterized by feelings of cynicism and detachment from work, reduced effectiveness and productivity, and a sense of being overwhelmed, emotionally drained or physically exhausted.

Burnout can affect anyone, but it’s most common in professions that involve long hours, high-pressure situations, and a sense of constant demand. Healthcare workers, Human Resources professionals, business leaders, lawyers, and entrepreneurs are just a few examples of professions where burnout is prevalent.

The Relationship Between Burnout and Mental Health

Burnout and mental health are closely intertwined. In fact, burnout is now recognized as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization (WHO), which describes it as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

If you don’t address it, burnout can lead to serious mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and even substance abuse. Burnout can also exacerbate existing mental or physical health conditions, making it more difficult for you to manage your symptoms.

Recognizing the Signs of Burnout

The first step in addressing burnout is recognizing the signs. Here are some common indicators that you may be experiencing burnout:

  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
  • Feeling cynical or detached from work, coworkers, or loved ones
  • Reduced effectiveness and productivity at work or in daily life
  • Dreading Sundays or holidays as you think about returning to work
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions; brain fog
  • Feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Lack of joy in life activities that gave you joy before 
  • Increased irritability or anger; lashing out at others
  • Physical symptoms, like headaches, muscle tension or digestive issues
  • Poor quality sleep including inability to fall asleep, waking during the night and can’t fall back asleep, or feeling exhausted after a full night of sleep

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action to prevent your burnout from getting worse.

Preventing Burnout and Promoting Mental Health

Preventing burnout and prioritizing your mental health requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are some strategies that can help:

Seek Support:

Don’t be afraid to get professional help. This may mean working with a healing coach like me who specializes in burnout prevention and recovery by revealing and healing the root cause. When I had burnout during my previous HR career, I wish I found the right support sooner rather than suffering for as long as I did. 

Practice Self-Care:

Taking care of yourself first is essential for preventing burnout. Selfish is not a bad word! This means getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, staying active, and consistently practicing relaxation techniques like meditation.

Set Boundaries:

In my experience, hard-working, ambitious and giving people who value their work find this difficult. It may be the people pleasing values or work ethic they were taught that causes these work and personal life imbalances. Sometimes you don’t even realize how off balance until it becomes a major problem. It’s important to set boundaries around your work and personal life to prevent burnout. This may mean limiting your work hours, saying no to additional assignments or “growth opportunities”, or taking breaks throughout the day when you need it.

Prioritize Meaningful Activities:

It’s important to prioritize activities that bring you joy and meaning outside of work. This may mean spending time with loved ones and friends, pursuing a hobby, or volunteering for a cause that you care about.

Create a Supportive Work Environment:

If you’re in a position of leadership, it’s important to create a supportive work environment that promotes mental health and prevents burnout for your employees. This may mean offering flexible work arrangements, providing realistic work expectations, creating a culture of open communication and support or paying attention to any signs of burnout and addressing it before it escalates. 

Conclusion

Burnout can have a significant impact on your mental health, but it’s a preventable and treatable condition. By recognizing the signs of burnout early and taking action to prevent it from getting worse, you can protect your mental health and overall well-being.

 

Photo by Elisa Ventur, Unsplash

What is Energy Rapport™?

What is Energy Rapport™?

I’d like to explain how I came up with the name of my company and my signature system, Energy Rapport™ Coaching – and what better way than in a short video (5 minutes).

You see, for a good portion of my life I either ignored or resisted my connection, or relationship, to energy. And by energy I mean the energy levels that we recognize in ourselves. Low energy when tired or scared, high energy when excited or creative or happy.

But it goes deeper than that, it’s the subtle energy that influences us as energetic beings. And this higher, lighter energy we can tap into to support us when we need it.

It could be from mother Earth or the Heavens above – think about how good you feel hiking in nature or after getting some sun and sea air. Or how you feel when witnessing an absolutely gorgeous sunset or sunrise where the whole sky looks like it’s on fire! 

There are so many tools, techniques and resources to connect to energy, to build a rapport with it. And it begins with awareness and ease….and going with the flow. Life doesn’t have to feel like a struggle all the time.

As an example, in my late teens and college years, I remember napping when my body needed it. But in my corporate years, I just pushed through the exhaustion which only made things worse.

So, please take a few minutes to learn more about connecting to energy, Energy Rapport™. Click here to watch now. 

Hopefully it’ll provide a better understanding of how I’m helping people by teaching them how to utilize their energy for the best and highest possibilities in their lives.

What Everyone Needs to Know About Energy Healing

What Everyone Needs to Know About Energy Healing

What does everyone need to know about Energy Healing? Well, it’s effective and works. The end.

It really is that simple. But sometimes people want to know more about energy healing, and why I combine it with my coaching services for long-lasting results.

What is Energy Healing?

Energy healing can be described as relaxation technique that helps release stress & promote your body’s natural healing abilities. Yet it is so much more.

As kids, we learned Albert Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2, which proved to scientists that energy and matter are expressions of the same universal thing. In other words, energy is everything. And energy healing is directing higher vibrational energy that is all around us to bring about the body’s natural healing abilities on all levels: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.

There are various methods or types of energy, or vibrational, healing: Reiki, theta, sound, music, crystal, Healing Touch, acupuncture, homeopathy, flower essences, Chakra healing, and numerous other ancient methods. I use a combination of methods that I’ve been trained in to provide the best results based on each individual client’s needs.

Getting to the Root Cause

Energy healing is an ancient healing practice that’s been in existence for thousands of years. Unfortunately modern medicine, pill popping and other “quick fixes” that have been in existence for relatively short periods of time, are prevalent nowadays. And most times they don’t address the root cause, the energetic underlying, of what is causing a person’s mental or physical ailments. It will continue to show up, or worsen, until the root cause is healed.

I tend to work with people that have energetic distress, as I like to call it. In the fast-changing, uncertain and often turbulent times we live in, most people are experiencing distress. It’s energetic distress because it’s affecting one or more levels of the body in a subtle yet powerful way. It causes imbalances within us and challenges in our lives.

The levels of the body I’m referring to are:

  1. the mental body or mind (those thoughts that seem never ending at times),
  2. the emotional body (think of emotions as energy in motion),
  3. the physical body (where the slowing and blocking of energy flow creates denseness, discomfort and disease, or dis-ease…when the body is no longer ‘at ease’), and
  4. the spiritual body (your connection to something larger than yourself which varies by individual; it could be God, Spirit, the Universe, Nature, Higher Power, Intuition, Life Purpose, Passion, Love, etc.)

Energy Healing effectively works on all of these levels. It is a holistic approach to complete wellbeing and wellness, and can complement any current treatment plans you are following.

The Benefits of Energy Healing

Since Energy Healing works on the whole body, we see benefits in all areas. Commonly reported benefits of energy healing include decreased pain, ease of muscle tension, improved sleep & improved mental clarity. Additional benefits include:

  • It’s safe and non-invasive.
  • Promotes natural self-healing processes.
  • Clears toxins from the body.
  • Increases energy.
  • Relaxes the body and mind.
  • Relieves stress.
  • Soothes anxiety and distress.
  • Promotes feelings of calmness and wellbeing.
  • Reduces overthinking.
  • Promotes a focused, peaceful and positive outlook.
  • Releases worry and replaces it with a sense of safety and comfort.

As you can see, Energy Healing promotes your overall health, is an excellent form of preventative care, and can help support your journey to wellness if you experience stress, anxiety, headaches, muscle or joint pain, chronic illness, poor sleep, tension or other challenges.

Life Changing Results

I’ve found Energy Healing is beneficial for anyone who’s looking for relaxation and natural relief of emotional, mental and physical ailments. It’s especially useful for people who have a large amount of stress, and can’t seem to turn off their mind from work or worry. Once you being to feel better, the possibilities for life changing results come next.

You experience relief in one area, and then notice other issues have resolved as well, without much focus or effort on your part. I’ve helped many clients whose initial complaint was a physical issue, like chronic headaches or migraines.

After the physical pain lessened or completely resolved, usually very quickly, they reflected back on other areas of their lives had improved as we continued to work together. Things like performance at work, self-confidence, emotional wellbeing and feeling more empowered.

Personally in my previous Corporate HR career, I experienced a large amount workplace stress that led to a physical illness. I credit Energy Healing as the catalyst for my disease going into a remission. And for experiencing stress reduction and hope again. It created the space where I could breathe easy again, start taking my power back and plan for a pivot in my career.

Going from HR to being a Life Coach, I now help hard-working professionals suffering physical and other ailments, mostly due to work stress and misaligned purpose (root cause). I use a powerful combination of Life Coaching plus Energy Healing techniques for life changing results. I find this combination to be more efficient, effective and meaningful than either practice on its own.

How to Get Started with Energy Healing

If Energy Healing is new concept for you and you’d like to learn more, follow me on LinkedIn (@kathyzering), Instagram (@energyrapport) or Facebook (@energyrapport) and reach out in a PM if you’d like to explore working together.

Still have questions about Energy Healing and how it could benefit you? Let me know in the comments.

Why Does Your Work Mean So Much?

Why Does Your Work Mean So Much?

Why does your work mean so much? I get it – the clients I work with are ambitious, hard-working, driven, and growth-oriented. I am too. In the past, a bit too ambitious, and overworking to the point of exhaustion and eventual burnout.

That’s why I’m writing this blog. To point out the benefits and other qualities of work, including the deeper psychological meanings that drive our choices and behavior. My intent is for you to gain an increased understanding about why your work means so much; and subsequently provide you with clarity so you can make choices about maintaining balance and harmony between your personal and professional lives, while still being able to excel and find fulfillment at work.

Benefits of Your Work

We spend a good amount of our time working, maybe 35, 40 or 50 hours or more per week; that allocation of time in and of itself gives work a prominent role in your life.

Work has many benefits and fulfills many needs; it’s a source of income that allows you to support yourself and loved ones with basic things like food and shelter. It also provides the funds to do activities you enjoy and to build wealth long-term.

At work, you learn new skills, meet new colleagues and clients, and definitely get challenged by different work situations.

Work allows you to contribute to the good of others and important causes. Many people link their work to a higher cause, it’s their bigger purpose and strong motivator. For example, I have a friend who became a pharmacist and eventually a pharmaceutical company executive with the higher purpose of helping to find a cure for cancer.

Work gives you a sense of identity and connection; it anchors you to your “work family”. It provides a sense of stability too, especially if you’re going through a challenging time.

When my mother died, and years later my father died, I was in my high pressure corporate HR career. The outpouring of sympathy from my colleagues helped so much. And the ability to focus on work activities in the following months was beneficial to healing my grief.

The Deeper Meaning of Work

This passage below really resonated with me. Internationally acclaimed poet and author David Whyte, wrote the following in his book: Consolations, The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

“Work is frightened with difficulty and possibility of visible failure, failure to provide, to succeed, to make a difference, to be seen and to be seen to be seen.

Work, therefore is robust vulnerability, and a good part of the time, a journey leading us through very unbeautiful private and public humiliations.

We find the core essence of work, firstly through its fear-filled imagining, secondly, in the long necessary humiliations of refusal, courtship and apprenticeship, thirdly in the skill and craft we learn by doing and finally in the harvest of its gift and its gifting and, the surprising ways it is both received and rejected by the world and then strangely, given back to us.

Profit, recognition, wealth: are beautiful by-products only when they come as the children of this falling in love, this patient courtship; this falling down and getting up, this learning to live with and this long careful parenting of our work.”

I think this really speaks to the deeper significance of work and “to be seen and to be seen and to be seen”; especially true for those of us with a strong work ethic.

Balance and Harmony in Work, and in Life

I hope you now have a better understanding about why your work means so much. Keep this in mind when making choices about maintaining balance and harmony in your work, and in your life.

It is more difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance in certain organizations and industries, depending on the company culture, its values, and expectations. Before taking on a new role, ensure it’s a good fit for you.

Throughout your career, pay attention; stay aware of things like overwork, overstress, burn out, lack of boundaries, unhealthy competition, unrealistic expectations and work politics and how they are affecting you. Address them quickly and swiftly for your own wellbeing before they escalate.

I’ve seen the good and the bad of being hard-working and driven, during my HR career and now as a life coach working with career-focused professionals. It’s wonderful to work with people who have high standards and integrity. However, sometimes that quality leads to the imbalance that causes mental and physical exhaustion and illness.

If this blog resonates with you and brought you a deeper understanding of the role of work in your life, and what may be causing some of your challenges, let me know more in the comments.

 

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Do You Need a Life Coach or a Therapist?

Do You Need a Life Coach or a Therapist?

You’ve decided to invest your time and money into improving yourself and your life situation. Do you need a life coach or a therapist?

Well, as with most things, it depends. It depends on a lot of factors. We all need a little help sometimes. And it’s important to choose the right kind of help for your specific issues and what you’re hoping to get out of it.

So here’s what you need to know before reaching out.

What is Life Coaching?

I get this question a lot from people who are curious about life coaching or working with me, and they’ve never worked with a life coach. They usually know about therapy from personal experience, from friends or family going to therapy, or from seeing it in movies or TV shows (remember Frazier or even the Sopranos).

Life Coaching can be therapeutic, but the two professions are very different. I like to describe life coaching as a partnership with the life coach asking insightful questions that clients wouldn’t ask themselves, so that aligned and helpful answers can come to light. I believe you know yourself best, you just need a little help in the form of coaching questions and other support to experience that clarity or a-ha moment where things begin to make sense and can begin to change.

Life coaches also help you evaluate your current situation so you can get crystal clear on your true desires and goals. They encourage your progress, and provide you with accountability, support, structure and tools so you can produce your desired results more quickly and efficiently.

How is Life Coaching Different from Therapy?

The Core Difference

Most therapy involves a diagnosis of some mental or psychological disorder – a problem that needs to be treated because it’s disrupting one or more areas of your life. Life coaching typically takes someone who is already functioning well, but may still be suffering, and helps them to develop and grow to the next level.

When my Mom died expectedly I found a therapist to help me with that tremendous loss. I continued to function at work well, but my personal life was disrupted by my grief and sorrow; I didn’t think I would ever get past it. I needed support to work through the depressing thoughts and to function in this new world without my Mom. Therapy was the best choice for me at that time.

Past, Present, Future

Another difference is that therapy typically goes into depth about various issues, usually dealing with the past so that you can function better. And life coaching focuses primarily on the present and future and is more action-oriented and results-driven.

Types and Specialties

There are various types of therapy, like talk therapy, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy. There are also specialties within life coaching based on the coach’s skillset, training and experience.

In my life coaching business, I work with hard-working professionals dealing with a lot of stress and pressure (like me when I worked in my corporate HR job). I combine life coaching tools, like what I call thought-healing (or what others call mindset or mindfulness), and I combine it with my specialty, energy work, that is very effective at getting to the oftentimes hidden, or subconscious, root cause of what’s preventing you from achieving your goals. We meet weekly or biweekly for consistency and momentum, and before long goals like reducing stress, feeling better, improving relationships, or having more fun in life are achieved.

Sessions

Lastly, sessions with a life coach will feel a lot different than ones with a therapist. Life coaching provides structure and accountability while therapy is more open-ended.

In my coaching sessions, I combine inner (energy) work and outer work – but there’s an underlying structure tied to the client’s prioritized goals. This structure helps us celebrate successes and progress, and discuss challenges or unhelpful blocks slowing down progress. And in each session there’s always homework for the client to accomplish between sessions.

So, Which One Is Best For You?

Do you need a life coach or a therapist? Actually, you don’t have to choose, if you need both. I have life coaching clients who are also actively in therapy, that’s perfectly fine. I’ve also had clients who I referred to other professionals, including therapists, for more specialized support.

The most important message here is to get help. I’m a big proponent of getting help rather than suffering alone. Especially in the challenging times we’re living in, life can be hard.

Some of us grew up being taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness and have a hard time with it, but you must push past that limiting belief for your health and wellbeing. It’s that important!

Over the years, I have had a hard time seeking out help, but I’ve come to learn and now know that most people love to help other people. It’s unhealthy to suffer for long periods of time, thinking whatever you’re grappling with will get better on its own; it usually won’t. There are resources out there for you, you just have to find the best one for your specific needs.

If you’re not spending time investing in your mental and emotional health, with a life coach or a therapist, you will not only continue to feel terrible but you’re blocking your ability to be the best version of yourself, in your personal life, your relationships and in your career.

Do you have any questions about life coaching not answered above? Drop them in a comment below.

Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Do you ever feel pressure building up at work or at home? Pressure is great for growth; you need it to keep moving in the right direction toward your goals.

It helps you to expand and create in the way that only you can. You want to use pressure to benefit you, and don’t let pressure become stress.

The Pressure Cooker at Work

The thing about pressure, if it goes unchecked and just keeps building and building without any release (think of a pressure cooker), that’s when it can turn into the unhealthiest kind of stress called chronic stress. The stress that causes health and other issues.

You don’t want to let pressure become this type of stress. Learn about the 3 types of stress and what to do to if you’ve got chronic stress here.

As I look back at my previous career and work habits, I could sense the pressure building, feel it, and yet felt powerless against it. Over time without actively addressing it, the stress became chronic, taking its toll on my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

It’s common to feel this type of pressure regularly when in a high demand job or fast-paced work environment. The important part is to address the pressure before it turns to stress.

Pressure is a Sign of Growth and Change

Lately that familiar feeling of pressure has returned in my work life. I’ve begun some new coaching work. I typically work one on one with coaching clients, however, I started some coaching work for an external company where I must learn their systems and processes.

It’ll take some time to acclimate to all this newness, and I continue to remind myself that it’s part of the growth process and only temporary. This reminder helps in times when the pressure rises.

When you take on new assignments or when you’ve switched jobs to a new company, how was it for you? Those first 30-60-90 days can be rough.

You’re attempting to do the work you were hired to do, but getting up to speed with who’s who, how things are done, new systems and processes – it all takes extra time and extra effort.

When Pressure Becomes Stress

You may experience increased pressure due to other external forces too. Maybe someone was laid-off and now you have to take on the work they performed. Or maybe you’re experiencing more pressure from leadership, or a higher than normal work demand, or a lack of job security.

Even a lack of flexibility and autonomy in your work and your work schedule can leave you feeling stressed and as if you have no control. Over time or with too much pressure all at once, it can become overwhelming and stressful.

The effects of work-related pressure turning into stress is evident in your physical, mental and emotional health. Common ailments can include musculoskeletal problems like chronic back pain, joint pain and carpel tunnel syndrome. Gastrointestinal disorders, like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers typically have a stress component.

Mentally and emotionally, issues like anxiety, burnout and inability to get good quality sleep (sleep disorders) are a result.

Pressure becoming stress also has adverse effects on a company’s performance and bottom line too. Increased healthcare costs and absenteeism are a result of chronic stress in the workplace.

Business leaders and owners should have an interest in managing the pressure and stress in their environments. But many times they get caught up in it as well.

Act with Intention: Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Here are some strategies to implement so you don’t let pressure become stress.

First off, stay present and conscious in the moment. In other words, realize that something is causing pressure. Pay attention to situations that you know will likely impact you.

Also, be realistic about what you can and can’t control. If the pressure is getting to you, take a few minutes to list out what the causes might be and circle the ones you can control.

Next, take action. For those items you can control, try a new strategy or approach to change the outcome. For instance, if you feel stuck in an unproductive weekly meeting and can feel the pressure beginning to rise as you think about the other work you need to be doing, have a direct conversation with the meeting leader. Give some suggestions for improvement like having a clear agenda with time allotments for each item. Or maybe suggest less frequent meetings with email updates weekly.

And for the things you can’t control, let them go. If you have a tendency to take on things that aren’t yours or that you have no way of influencing, it’s best to recognize that early on and let it go.

For instance, being late to a meeting due to a traffic accident causing traffic backup on the road, or technical problems on a webmeeting due to bandwidth overuse – let it go. Getting frustrated or upset doesn’t help. These things are beyond your control, and you when you recognize that and let it go, it takes the pressure off and allows you to move forward in a calm healthy way.  

 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Focus on Growth in Uncertain Times

Focus on Growth in Uncertain Times

A helpful strategy for uncertain and uncomfortable times is to focus on growth. Just like how it’s best to focus on the solution to a problem rather than the problem itself, I’m suggesting you focus on how you’re growing and developing instead of how uncertain things are. Growth brings a sense of confidence, stability and security.

The next time you’re beginning to stress over a particular situation or challenge, ask yourself these questions, “How is this challenging time or situation causing me to grow?” and “What am I learning from this?”

Uncertainty is all around us

It’s a fact of life. Uncertainty always exists. We’re always dealing with the unknown, in positive or negative ways.

For instance, you’re about to start a new assignment at work. You have certain expectations but it’s with colleagues you’ve never worked directly with before. It could be the best work experience ever, or the most challenging that tests your ability and forces you to learn and grow.

Or even something as simple as a trip to the grocery store could be full of uncertainty. There could be traffic, road closures, or a traffic accident that prolongs the whole trip, or the store could be out of stock of the staples you need.

Finding and losing balance is necessary for growth

When we’re in the middle of uncertainty, we feel out of balance. Something feels off.

Some people feel excited, like the uncertainty of a vacation to a place you’ve never been. Other people may feel anxious or stressed in that same scenario.

Our journey here in life is about finding and losing balance, and that is necessary for you to grow and develop. This fact alone helps put things into perspective and provides a more productive way of dealing with life’s challenges.

Think about when you were a child unable to walk yet. You had no balance or coordination.

One day, you gained enough balance to stand. Next, you threw yourself off balance to take that first step. You got balance again, then with your next step, threw yourself off balance again. Eventually you mastered walking and moved on to the next thing you could learn.

Growth nurtures confidence, and propels us toward the next opportunity for continued development.

How the Covid-19 pandemic is causing growth

I tend to look for the positivity in things. I’m not making light of the illness, deaths, physical and financial loss, and breakdown of systems (healthcare, political, social, financial) that we’ve been experiencing for most of 2020. I acknowledge this Covid-19 global pandemic has been one of the most trying times in recent history.

In a recent conversation I could hear my friend’s jaw drop when I stated how this Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a lot of positive things.

In disbelief, she said, “Oh really? Like what?”

I see families spending more time together going on hikes and bike rides; non tech-savvy people “going” to church or other meetings via webmeeting and some even holding their own Zoom meetings who never even heard of Zoom 6 months earlier; people are reevaluating their careers and current roles and organizations given the response to this pandemic and what their own core values are.

I see a slower pace that allows for more reflection and meditation/prayer; more enjoyment of reflective hobbies like gardening, reading, walks, music, dance, yoga; less traffic and stress over hectic schedules and routines (like commuting business professionals who now have 1 to 3 extra hours in their day as they work from home). There’s also less pollution, less driving, less air traffic, less noise and less unnecessary shopping.

There’s an intentional slowing down to enjoy sunsets, full moons, comets, beautiful clouds, beautiful trees and gardens.

Most importantly is this sense of global community – we’re all in this together no matter where on this earth you reside.

This pandemic is certainly allowing us all to expand and grow. And an intentional focus on growth is helpful during this time.

The loss, death, illness, and breakdown of systems is putting you off balance. And the focus on growth can be that step toward creating balance again.

Act with Intention: focus on growth

If you struggle in tough times, when things seem to not go your way, here are some things to do.

1. Determine what you’re focused on. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself “what has my attention right now?” This helps you become more present with what it is so you can begin to address it.

2. Pay attention to your thoughts and language. I’ve heard people say things like “Things never work out for me” or “Why do I have so many problems”. These are limiting and unhelpful thoughts and language that once you’re aware of, you can change them in the moment. Read more about harnessing the power of your thoughts here.

3. Change limiting and unhelpful thoughts and language to statements of intention. Some people call them affirmations or incantations, but they are basically statements of intention to get your egoic and monkey mind to focus and learn a new way. It’s a way to set a new intention of how you want things to be.

You can state them aloud when one of your limiting unhelpful thoughts or statements come up. And you can build them into a daily practice where you review them each morning or 3 times a day. Keep a list in your phone for easy reference.

Some examples are: “I release everything that’s not serving my highest good”, “I know that this struggle is a normal part of life’s ups and downs, and it’s only temporary” and “This challenge is allowing me to grow and expand.” One of my favorites is “All I need is within me now.”

4. Lastly, ask helpful questions to focus on growth. The next time you’re beginning to stress over a particular situation or challenge, ask yourself these questions, “How is this challenging time or situation causing me to grow?” or “What am I learning from this?”

 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Why Taking Responsibility Feels So Good

Why Taking Responsibility Feels So Good

Responsibility is part of your personal power and that’s why taking responsibility feels so good. When you’re feeling powerless, stress and anxiety increase, and it’s a small step to blaming and complaining about others or the situation. Responsibility is about responding to your circumstances from a higher place, a place aligned with your goals, your dreams, your values, and your contribution to others and society. The empowering nature of responsibility amplifies feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Response – ability. What responsibility really means

The word responsibility broken down is response – ability. It’s simply the ability to respond. It’s when you intentionally and consciously make choices and take actions for the benefit of others or for yourself. You choose behaviors and make decisions to bring about change, change for the better. For instance, say you’re leading a team at work and one of the team members seems disengaged in meetings and is missing deadlines and deliverables. Do you immediately blame the individual or ignore the situation, hoping it’ll improve on its own? Or, as a responsible team lead, do you have a private conversation with him to share your observations and find out if there are legitimate reasons for the lack of engagement and poor follow-through?

Owning it

Most importantly, when you’re taking responsibility you take action and you own the outcome of that action (your choice or decision). Refusing to take responsibility by blaming others or the circumstances for your situation gives away your power. You ultimately are denying your ability to respond – to take action to change the circumstance for the better. It’s the law of cause and effect. You take action, create the cause, watch the effect and take responsibility for the outcome – good or not so good. In the earlier example, the responsible team lead took the action to have a private conversation to find out if there are legitimate reasons for the lack of engagement and poor follow-through. The outcome could be a turnaround in behavior and results just from that simple conversation. Or it could be continued problems with this person. Either way, a leader takes responsibility for both actions and outcomes, owns that outcome and may have to take additional actions if the situation does not improve.

Leadership, not victim-hood

Imagine if this leader never addressed the issue, and this situation jeopardized the entire project getting done on time and on budget, not to mention the poor morale from the other team members. These types of choices happen in our personal lives too. The choice to be proactive and empowered and take responsibility or do the opposite: be the recipient of things “happening to you”. Victims avoid taking responsibility; they feel powerless to effect change and so they don’t take any action. They may complain about the pain and suffering it’s causing them, and you might hear them say “why is this happening to me?” or “it’s just not fair”. Ultimately, they wait for someone else to fix the problem. This victim-hood has some benefits, like getting sympathy or attention from others, but long-term it can have a negative impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, your peace of mind, and your overall fulfillment in your career and life.

Why you feel good when you take responsibility

The empowering nature of responsibility amplifies feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment. The feel-good chemicals and reactions in our body go off when we stand in our power, for our own benefit and especially for the benefit of others. By taking responsibility, we build trust and confidence in what we can do. And helping others just feels good, plus it strengthens the trust and relationships we have with them. Even if you don’t get the result you wanted, you still feel good knowing you tried your best in the action you took. As the saying goes, “it’s better to try and fail than to never try at all”.

Act with intention: Take responsibility

Here’s a great exercise to help you nurture more responsibility in your career and in your life. Step 1: Pay specific attention to your language and behavior during challenging situations. Become aware of any blaming or complaining language or behaviors you exhibit throughout the day. Do you say things like “someone should fix this”, or “why is this happening to me?” Are you reactive or defensive a lot? Do you find fault in others or whenever something goes wrong do you immediately shout “it’s not my fault” or ask “whose fault is this”? Jot it down when you hear it or make a mental note. Step 2: Next, begin to change the language or behavior as it’s happening or immediately afterwards. When you hear yourself saying “why is this happening to me?”, change it to “What can I learn from this?” or “How is this challenge causing me to grow and expand?”. Come from a place and attitude of growth, learning, expansion and responsiveness. Other healthy responses are “what do I want as on outcome out of this?” or “what can I do to positively change this?” These statements and new behaviors will build your personal empowerment and responsibility. It’s best to use your energy productively and responsibly. Remember the law of cause and effect and take action, observe the effect, take responsibility (own the outcome) and adjust your actions going forward to bring about your desired results in your career and in your life.   Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Are You Ready to Make That Change?

Are You Ready to Make That Change?

Readiness is key in making a change. Are you ready?

Change can be a small step toward achieving a goal, a big change like starting a new job, or a giant leap like deciding to turn your world upside down in pursuit of a lifelong dream.

No matter the size and impact of the change, they all have one thing in common. You have to ready to make that change. If you’re not ready it’s not going to happen.

Are You Ready or Not?

No progress or inconsistent results may be a sign you’re not ready to change.

How is your progress toward achieving your goals this year? Do you have any goals with little to no progress toward achieving them?

For instance, maybe you do really well meditating for a month. But slowly the habit unravels to where you can’t seem to find the time to do it anymore.

Getting regular exercise is another goal people find challenging with limited results.Another goal people find challenging with limited results is getting regular exercise.

Another goal I see people struggle with is finishing work at a reasonable time, so you can intentionally spend some down time with family, friends or doing something fun that lights you up.

The Change Process

There is usually a progression we all go through when making changes.

First, you have to realize the need to make a change. If you don’t see something as a problem, there is no need to make a change. Let’s presume we’re past this step.

Next, you may recognize you have a problem but you’re in denial about the seriousness of not changing. It’s like the man who has a heart attack yet continues to prioritize his work above his health, taking work calls from the hospital bed. And later making no significant long-term lifestyle changes that would support his health.

Or you recognize the need to change, but you may get stuck in analysis paralysis. You’re weighing pros and cons, creating lists of things that may help, or changing your mind about whether it’s worth it to make a change. Maybe you’re just not sure how to proceed so you keep researching potential solutions and never settle on one to pursue. This can go on for weeks without taking any action.

It’s good to do research and find helpful options, just don’t get stuck spinning here.

Motivation is Key

Denial or analysis paralysis is where the readiness factor comes in. If you’re stuck, you may want to explore your motivation to change versus staying status quo.

What will it cost you if you don’t change? For example, if you continue to work long hours and on weekends and holidays, what is it costing you in your relationships, or in your health?

If you’re already working with a life coach, this could be a great exercise to do together. Once you get clear on your motivation, and are ready to take action toward making that change, having an alliance with your coach increases your likelihood of success.

If you stumble along the way or slip into old habits, your coach is there to offer support. She can help you adjust your goals and action steps to so you remain aligned with and on track to reach your goals.

Act with Intention: Take these steps now.

Here are some action steps to take if you’re not getting the results you want in your life.

1. Determine where things aren’t working. What goals do you have for yourself where you’re getting limited to no results? What’s it for you? Cleaning out your garage, getting regular exercise in, getting back to meditating every day, or intentionally working smarter so you can have more balance in your life?

2. Check your readiness. Are you in denial or still analyzing options to try? Are you ready to make that change?

3. Explore your motivation to change versus staying status quo. What will cost you if you don’t change? Write it down.

4. Take an intentional action step, try an option out – get some momentum going and stay consistent.

 

Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash