Avoiding emotional exhaustion at work
When we heard that she was leaving many people were surprised. She’d always loved what she was doing and she’d given 100%. She was a high-achiever, with a “can-do“ attitude, someone you could always rely on, engaged and passionate. So what happened to her? Why did it come to this abrupt end? She told me she was exhausted and didn’t care anymore. She’d mentally checked out and wanted out.
No matter how much you like your job, we all know that sometimes things do get a bit too much. We might be blaming our workload, the organisation, or the circumstances for that. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that our behaviour and the choices we’ve made also led to the state we’re in, despite our best intentions.
So how can we stay positive and energetic in the long run? What strategies do we have to manage our energy and avoid losing ourselves?
Here are some personal comments from Krauthammer consultants for you to read:
Coralie Krumpholtz, Training Consultant Germany:
I can only give 100% at work when I’m healthy, happy and full of energy. Therefore, I’m very disciplined about planning time for exercising, my loved ones, and meditation, even when my schedule is packed. I also always ask myself “is this my job or am I wasting my time with things other people are responsible for and could do much quicker?” In the evening, I plan my day and make sure I find a slot to meditate (such as getting up 20 minutes earlier or meditating on the plane/train). I know that these 20 minutes give me more energy than 20 minutes of sleep or checking my phone, so this makes it easy for me to free them up.
Juan Campoo, Training Consultant Netherlands:
Self-awareness and self-knowledge are important. If you know what causes you to be emotionally exhausted, then you can take proactive steps to avoid or overcome these situations. Also be aware of the specific things you do when you’re exhausted. Ask those around you to be aware of these too and let you know when you show these signs, after all, you can’t fight an enemy you can’t see. Lastly, these signs will show you your limits, or where you lack certain skills. Develop your skills: learn to say “no”, set boundaries, ask for support, delegate, and collaborate. Personally, I make sure to balance periods of activity and inactivity (which doesn’t include watching Netflix on my smartphone…) during the week and during the day to stay more resilient.
Dorinda Dekker, Open Programmes Advisor Netherlands:
High performance and deadlines are common nowadays. During moments of pressure, I learned how to listen to myself carefully, and pick up on signs like getting tired, irritated or in a rush mode easily. I act accordingly by distancing myself, trying to see things from different perspectives and involving others if needed. I’m convinced that stress and challenges also provide the power and drive to get things done or changed. To manage my energy and perform optimally in the long run, I bear this quote in mind: “you can only accelerate if you’re able to slow down”. That’s why I regularly enjoy a short break, a cup of tea or a nice conversation with a colleague!
Sebastian Kanthak, Training Consultant Germany:
I try to be in the moment as much as possible and I have one phrase for that: “where I am is where I want to be.” My energy level is filled up by doing a little workout every day and focusing on what’s positive right now. One quick tip: sit down wherever you are, breathe in and out normally and count your breathing 10 times.
Samuel Richardson, Training Consultant USA:
First, I have to acknowledge the cause of my emotional exhaustion. Second, I take preparatory steps to prevent myself from succumbing to those pitfalls. If I do succumb, I refer to past experiences to remove any anxiety I may feel. For me, it’s purely a mind-set.
I manage my energy by ensuring I maintain a healthy diet, make it a priority to exercise regularly, and lastly, I work at a pace that optimises the planned activities for the day. I trust those around me to carry out a given task and my ability to adapt to any given circumstance. I also remind myself that I’m not performing brain surgery.
Philippe Chapel, Training Consultant Belgium:
I love what I do and when it becomes challenging, I focus on why I love it. I learned to live in the “now” and keep connected with clear pictures of what I want to materialise. I take life as it comes and look for the (sometimes hidden) beauty in it. After a busy day, I take between 15 and 45 minutes to talk to people that make me laugh. Whatever the status of a task is, I stop working at 7PM and do relaxing/energising activities, unless I’m passionate about that task and want to keep going until it’s finished.
Ioannis Lagoudakis, Training Consultant Greece:
I’m a creature of habit and in order to cope when the tide of stress is high, I resort to the following rituals:
• Have a slow start in the morning: stay in bed for 5 minutes listening to Hans Zimmer or Max Richter music while the coffee is getting ready.
• Make sure I save 20 minutes for my lunch – either in the company of my colleagues at the office, or alone in the nearby park. No electronic devices allowed within reach.
• Before going to bed, I reach for my diary: what will I remember from the day? What are three things I have been grateful for?
Each of us is different and gets motivated or drained by different things. Therefore, if you respect your personality and know what’s good for you, you can take steps to build more of these activities into your day. It’s also important to set yourself boundaries. So use your time wisely, focus on your priorities, and have meaningful things to do. However, sometimes we simply have to accept that we all have our challenges.
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