There are many theories about the sources and causes of stress and/or burnout. I propose that underneath all those ideas is a systemic disconnect between one’s strengths and ones dreams. Any combination other than being connected and acting from strengths as well as keeping a conscious focus on dreams can create the symptoms of stress and lead to burnout. The most disastrous is the state of being out of touch with one’s dreams and working from ones’ weaknesses.
When I talk about being out of touch with dreams, I’m looking at the place in your life, often appearing at mid-life when your dreams of having a beautiful home, perfect children, loving and attentive spouse or of six figure income and international fame and instead you find yourself cleaning dirty toilets, drudging through boring projects at work, and dragging yourself to the movies because you just can’t think of anything else to do.
When one is also out of touch with operating from one’s strengths, the stress doubles or triples exponentially. When you find yourself working with people in, say a sales or customer service job, and your greatest strength is introspection and left-brain mathematical concepts, you may be working from weakness. On the other hand, if you’re highly social and love being with and interacting with people, and, you are in a cubicle all day updating spreadsheets or programming computers, you haven’t connected your purpose to your inherent strengths.
When one is off purpose with both dreams and strengths, stress burnout is inevitable. If stress is keeping you from your Big Dreams, here are a few tips for treating those symptoms and getting back on track:
- Add something beautiful to your life on a daily basis, such as flowers or music.
- Do some enjoyable activities whenever possible.
- Walk, work, and eat at a relaxed pace.
- Take a short break after meals to relax.
- If possible, go outside at least once per day and notice the simple things such as the weather or scenery.
- During the day, whenever you remember, notice any tension in your body (jaw, neck, shoulders). Breathe deeply and gently stretch and relax any tense areas.
- If you notice your mind racing or worrying about the past or future, take a minute to breathe deeply. Gently focus on something in the moment such as the feel of your breathing, the visual scenery, the sound of birds.
- Take breaks during the workday to relax.
Wear comfortable and loose clothing when possible. Take off your shoes when you can.
- Avoid holding in feelings day after day. Instead, find a safe place to feel, express, and embrace them.
- ABOVE ALL, BE GENTLE AND PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. SOME PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES FALLING BACK INTO EXCESSIVELY STRESSFUL HABITS FROM TIME TO TIME. THAT IS PERFECTLY NORMAL. SIMPLY NOTICE THAT CHANGE IN A NON-JUDGMENTAL WAY AND REFOCUS ON THE STRESS REDUCTION PRACTICES THAT WILL PROMOTE A HEALTHY WAY OF LIFE.
May this summer find you focused on those dreams, living from your strengths, and dancing.