When stress isn't successfully managed

by

Opinion

Our bodies are incredible things, and are quite often telling you something. Have you ever stopped to listen to your own?

As I sit here wondering how I’ve managed to get sick for the second time within 10 days, not wanting to call in sick, because hey —I already did that last week, I’m taking a listen.

I want to start this by saying I am by no means a mental health professional. If you need the help from a professional, please seek the help.

Anyways, back to the process of listening to myself.

I’m analyzing the state of my skin and sleep, which might seem like a weird combination, but they’ve always been a telltale of my stress levels. Spoiler alert: they aren’t good. Add in a low immune system, and heightened mental health levels, and suddenly I’ve got one word staring me straight in the eye: burnout.

According to the most recent definition of burnout by the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is defined as follows:

“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

Ok, so this might seem a little strange — writing about the realities of job stress, while writing for my employers’ company. However, I think if you take a look back at that definition, you’ll realize one important point — “has not been successfully managed.”

Those five words right there are key to a lot of struggles we have when it comes to these discussions. Why can I do the same amount as a colleague, and the same colleague not experience the burnout I may be feeling? Why can some have jobs that cause them to never stop, and say they wouldn’t have it any other way?

It all boils down to how we manage it.

Did you listen to your body when it started telling you to take a break? Did you walk half way across the yard instead of hopping on the quad, just to get a little breathing time?

I haven’t been listening. I’ve had a lot of great things happening in the last couple of months, between kidding goats, getting back into the travelling swing of conferences and shows, suddenly having a bunch of social events on the go again, and everything else in between leads to not a lot of time spent with myself. In that period of time, I haven’t necessarily stopped, breathed in, and asked what I needed of myself to keep this pace up. And that’s on me. I’m notorious for realizing I need to ask myself this question once the burnout has already started kicking in, rather than avoiding the burnout altogether.

In my own personal definition, I think burnout ties into numerous aspects of life. It’s not just personal, and it’s not just work. There are only so many blocks you can stack on that Jenga tower before they all come tumbling down.

So, here I am, asking something of you. Let’s keep each other accountable. Calving is in full swing in many areas. Seeding is right around the corner. The busy busy busy is coming. It’s exciting. It’s stressful. It’s many feelings. Let’s try to take that time to acknowledge how we’re feeling during all of it. It’s amazing what five minutes of deep breathing can do for the mind. Your mind is a muscle that needs to be exercised, too.

On top of taking that time, remember the phrase successfully managed. What does that look like for you? We are all unique people, so successful management of the stress and going ons of life is going to be different. For some, maybe it’s booking an appointment with your therapist before it gets busy. For others, it may be as simple as taking that walk around the planter, or taking in the joys of a healthy calf. Do what works for you. But just remember: pay attention to you. Sometimes our bodies know what’s going on before our minds even do.

If you are looking for more information on burnout, check out this Mind Your Farm Business podcast, too.

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