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Successful People Suffer from Burnout Too. But They Know How to Deal with It

Successful People Suffer from Burnout Too. But They Know How to Deal with It

Ever felt that it’s all getting too much? It’s not a pleasant feeling and often makes us believe that we’re failing in some way.

But I’m here to tell you that you’re not failing. In fact, many people we deem successful in work and life in general, suffer from burnout too they just have a way of dealing with the situation that quickly gets them back on track.

What it boils down to is adopting a mindset that cultivates looking after yourself, acknowledging that it’s getting too much but that’s okay, and taking positive steps to improve the situation.

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Why Can It Seem So Hard to Deal With a Burnout?

When we’re in the midst of a burnout we often feel exhausted both mentally and physically. This puts us in a space of feeling low about ourselves, and as I mentioned earlier, a sense of failure in either one area or many areas of our lives.

But a burnout should be seen as our body and mind’s way of indicating to us that we need to stop. It’s hard, but keeping a positive perspective while going through what feels like a massive fall into a deep pit, will allow you to get out much quicker.

Experiencing Burnout? Here’s What You Need to Do

Everyone goes through this at some point in their life and usually involves experiencing chronic stress, exhaustion, lack of motivation, frustration, health problems and decreased satisfaction. However, going through this can help you re-evaluate your choices, see more clearly how you intend to live your life moving forward and teach you how to avoid any similar situations in the future.

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This is primarily how successful people choose to look at difficult times in their lives and here are the best things you can do when burnout occurs.

Be Serious About Relaxing and Taking it Easy

We hear it everywhere these days with mindfulness being the vogue word at the moment, but carving out time to relax is important for our mental and physical health. Often we overlook this by thinking we don’t have time. Meditation is for people who have time to meditate, but not me. Well, it’s time to stop the excuses. Everyone has time – and not just to meditate but to take that walk or run that bath – anything that puts us in that state of relaxation.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is paramount for our optimum functioning throughout the day. Stress is a big factor in our inability to get enough sleep but not getting enough is what can cause more stress. This can be a vicious circle but admitting, acknowledging and prioritising sleep is key to overcoming burnout and helping you deal with it much better.

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Learn to Say No

Successful people learn to say no. When they feel the burnout looming they start to eliminate potential stressful situations before they happen. Many of us are afraid to say no especially at work but you’ll be way more useful to people when you’re coping than when you’re falling into the pit. It’s about putting yourself first in the short term in order to create a better you in the long-term.

Unplug Yourself

Disconnecting is a great way of eliminating the degree of burnout you experience. Make sure you spend time unplugging from your phone, emails or any gadgets that are bombarding you and not allowing you to switch off. It’s all too easy to carry on checking messages even after we’ve left work with phones always at our fingertips. But be more mindful of unplugging yourself as protection from further stress. Aim for peace of mind.

Re-evaluate Your Priorities

Usually when we’ve got to a point of burnout, it’s because we’ve neglected our priorities. Think or remind yourself about what’s important to you. Have you been neglecting your home life? Your relationships? Yourself? Successful people know that their happiness is just as important and shouldn’t be sacrificed. Getting that re-balance back in our lives is getting you more on the fast-track to a more content and happy outlook.

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Be Attuned To How You Feel

In order to prevent burnout from happening again, it’s important to learn to recognise the feelings you’re getting in the lead up. Successful people are aware of the signs and try to steer themselves away before it gets too far. If you’re feeling stressed, negative, tired and demotivated then don’t ignore these feelings. Instead identify them and recognise that they need to be dealt with.

Is it Other People or is it You?

Successful people take responsibility for their circumstances. We often blame others when we reach a stage of burnout but we need to take responsibility for how we react to situations or realise we’re putting this pressure on ourselves rather than other people doing it. This isn’t to spend time blaming yourself and beating yourself up, but rather see it as empowering and knowing you have more control than you imagine.

Make Time for Exercise

Exercise is probably one of the best things you can do in the midst of a complete burnout. Despite being mentally and physically exhausted, exercise can combat this and release those endorphins that lower stress. Whether it’s going for a walk, going swimming or pounding the pavements, getting your body moving will help give you that much-needed clarity and headspace.

Re-evaluate Your Attitude

Mindset and attitude is key to how successful people deal with burnout. We can easily get caught up in the spiral of negative thoughts that just make us feel worse. While going through a burnout isn’t pleasant, making sure your mindset and perspective is one of ‘what can I learn from this?’ and ‘I will get over this and make the necessary changes’ is important to recovering more quickly and moving forward in a positive way.

Featured photo credit: Sam Churchill via flickr.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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