General

What Kind of Support Do Real-Life Heroes Need?

Recently, I had the profound honor of presenting to an amazing group. The folks at the Sexual Assault Resource Council of Oregon (SARC) provide both preventive education and crisis response services. In my view, they are real-life heroes. However, I consistently get an interesting reaction from others, when I mention this engagement:  Most folks seem to find that even the group’s name, “Sexual Assault Resource Council” brings to mind the worst of human vileness, and so they cringe away from having to think about it at all. Yet the people at SARC, who actually confront these ugliest of realities every day, appeared not just professional, but also relaxed, friendly, cheerful, and energetic. In pre-talk interviews, they told me: “We love the fact that we share passion and deep knowledge about this field.” “We rely on each other.” “We expect each other to bring our best selves.” It was also clear to [...]

By |2019-08-15T21:46:12+00:00August 15th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Will Your Next Vacation Provide Enough Rest and Recreation?

Vacations are supposed to be for R and R: rest and recreation, yes? But one of my clients recently said to me: "The vacation I just finished was fun, I guess... but I'm exhausted now, and I spent way too much money. Now that I'm back at work, I'm more stressed than ever." The client who told me this -- we'll call her Rebecca -- had just completed a one-week adventure cruise to Alaska with a good friend. They'd planned it together, and it was packed with experiences they were excited to share. But Rebecca's job has gotten a lot more stressful in the past year. Organizational changes and the resulting office politics have sent the level of tension and uncertainty in her division through the roof. She felt she urgently needed to the relief and fun of her week off with her friend. So it was disappointing to realize [...]

By |2019-06-27T00:05:10+00:00June 27th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Burnout and Bullying: What You Can Do about the High Costs of “Incivility”

Bullying at work is highly correlated to burnout.  Rudeness, genteelly referred to as 'incivility," is a big part of bullying at work. Most discussions of bullying look at the toll it takes on children. Adults do not thrive when bullied, either!  And bullying happens at all kinds of workplaces. It's especially common when the workplace has a strong hierarchical structure: medicine is a prime example. I was very pleased to be quoted about basic burnout prevention in this article. and I thnk there's a lot more to be said on the subject. How can we end incivility -- rudeness-- at work? Someone who has done a lot of great work on this question is path-breaking burnout researcher Dr. Michael Leiter, PhD.  He's been working with the VA, and other organizations, on a project they call CREW: Civility, Respect and Engagement in the Workplace.  His group has been able to document [...]

By |2019-05-21T19:02:37+00:00May 21st, 2019|General|0 Comments

When You Don’t Fit at Work: Are You and Your Work Environment Mismatched?

At Burnout Solutions, we spend most of our time looking at what you, personally, can do to enjoy life and work again.  It is certainly true, however, that some of the stressors that lead to burnout are external --- you didn't cause them or control them.  Two very famous researchers on burnout point out that the stressful part of these situations can be the poor fit between our own needs and what the organization demands. In our book we discuss this concept of fit. Here's an excerpt, including a quick assessment you can do to evaluate for yourself  how well you and your workplace fit together.  Finally, we offer some quick suggestions on non-work areas which may also need your attention, in regards to fit. What are the external factors that lead to burnout? Research has shown that in the workplace, there are six types of stressful situations most likely to lead [...]

By |2019-01-23T04:40:01+00:00January 21st, 2019|General|0 Comments

Caution! “Every Day Is a New Day” May Be a Dangerous Attitude

This kind of advice can be dangerous stuff: Be professional - shrug it off! Don't let them see you sweat. Keep your game face on. Treat every day as a new day. For example, Anastasia, a teacher, told me,  "I want what I do to make a difference every day! (But I'm afraid that I am not making any difference at all!)" Her solution? "Suck it up, put on that game face, and treat every day as a new day." Here's why I believe, for all of us, that approach adds emotional overload to your daily stress burden.  Simply said:  "treat every day as a new day" sidesteps the emotional meaning in the difficult parts of your day. What do I mean by sidestep?  I mean squashing or stuffing down or ignoring our own distress.  I mean, we pretend, as hard as we can, that those feelings don't exist, or don't [...]

By |2019-01-13T22:23:12+00:00September 25th, 2018|General|0 Comments

Is That Pesky Monkey on Your Back Really Yours?

A monkey on your back is a problem you have to solve or a task you have to do. Is your back bent under the weight of all the monkeys on your back? Photo by TJ Kolesnik on Unsplash If so, you’ll benefit from building this spine-stiffening muscle: The ability to gracefully but firmly hand back errant monkeys. Even if you’re ultimately responsible for the care and feeding of a particular monkey, today’s problem with the little beast may not belong to you. Because getting clear about monkey ownership is such a key anti-burnout skill, I highly recommend this lively little book. It teaches how to manage your monkey zoo with real-world examples from the realms of work, home, and volunteering. Here’s how Ken Blanchard sums up the problem: When a person goes to the boss with a problem and the boss agrees to do something about it, the [...]

By |2019-01-13T22:22:36+00:00May 17th, 2018|General|0 Comments

Afraid You’re Not Doing Enough?

Photo by George Bonev on Unsplash “There’s been a lot of big changes at work -- everything’s blowing up at once. buIt's too much for me. I really, really, really need to cut down on my constant availability. But I feel guilty even thinking that, when everyone around me is so stressed, too! I feel like I'm not doing enough.” my client told me this week. If you’re like this very admirable and effective client of mine, you’ve got a LOT on your plate. We get overwhelmed, stressed out, even burned out… but we feel selfish and small when we even consider putting our own needs first. GUILT! But… is that really Guilt? And whatever you call it, what can you do about it? I am a big fan of Brené Brown. She sees an important difference between Guilt and Shame. Guilt, she says, is a valuable (if [...]

By |2019-01-13T22:24:14+00:00May 9th, 2018|General|1 Comment

What You Measure is What You Get — and There’s Only One You

Are you holding yourself to an impossible standard?  How do you set priorities among everything you do and want? What you measure is what you get, so be very careful what you measure. There’s Only One You Usually, the phrase “there’s only one you” is a tag line in great feel-good movies that remind us that our own uniqueness is precious. There’s another side to that phrase, though. Perhaps like you, my overwhelmed, stressed-out clients often carefully partition their to-do lists among “work” and “family” and “volunteer/church” responsibilities. Many of us tend to create strong mental walls between those to-do lists. Of course, whenever we can fully focus on one sphere of responsibilities at a time, we are much more likely to be productive in that sphere. That’s a no-brainer. Nevertheless, all those responsibilities are being carried by the SAME PERSON. You. There’s only one you.  And if that “you” [...]

By |2019-07-30T20:53:37+00:00May 3rd, 2018|General|0 Comments

What Are You Modeling on This Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day?

Overwork and Stress? or Commitment and Joy? On this Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day – what values will you be modeling for the kids? They say kids learn much more from how we behave than from what we tell them in words. What was my daughter learning from my behavior? “I don’t ever want to be a mommy when I grow up,” my 5-year-old daughter calmly announced. “Why, honey?” “Because mommies are too tired.” I felt like my little girl had punched me in the gut. "Mommies are too tired." Truly, I’m not sure the phrase “too tired” was strong enough for how I felt, all the time. I was working full-time as a health-care provider. I was pregnant with my second. And, of course, other issues on the home front demanded my attention (aren’t there ALWAYS “other issues” on the home front?) I was sure I [...]

By |2019-01-13T23:15:34+00:00April 25th, 2018|General|0 Comments

Spread Too Thin?

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter spread over too much bread.” ─ Frodo, The Fellowship of the Rings, J. R. R Tolkien Here's a quick suggestion for relieving that uneasy, exhausted, spread-too-thin feeling. (Perhaps you even recognized the quote: Frodo was struggling to carry out a world-saving task that seemed far too big for his little hobbit body. More and more, he felt not just bone-tired, but soul-weary.) Relief for That "Spread Too Thin" Feeling Yesterday, a super-productive friend made me think of Frodo. She asked, “LinkedIn is having a big debate about whether people should use the phrase “I’m so busy” anymore. I found it very upsetting; it sounds like they are saying just don’t talk about the problem anymore. What’s your take on this?” Well, people certainly shared lots of good ideas in the #ImSoBusy debate. Here’s just a few: People might not share opportunities (for work [...]

By |2019-01-13T22:27:01+00:00April 10th, 2018|General|0 Comments