Burnout — Could This Be You?

Burnout — It happens to the best of us. On this episode of My Crazy Office, Kathi and Katherine explore the topic of burnout; how to spot it, how to treat it, and how to manage someone who has it. What do you do if you feel so depleted that going to work fills you with a sense of dread? How do you manage a top performer who suddenly seems burnt out at work? Listen here.

Are You Your Last Priority?

If you are a hardworking, career-minded professional, you may be very good at taking care of others, and not so good at taking care of yourself. In this podcast, Kathi and Katherine address what it looks like if you are the last priority at your job and in your life, and how to take steps to change that.

#29: Preventing Burnout in the High Performer – My Crazy Office, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about burnout prevention for high performers on this week’s episode of the My Crazy Office podcast.

First we give advice to an employee who is great at their job but drowning in work.

Then we discuss how managers can protect their stellar employees from working too hard and burning out.

Give Your Brain a Break

As we approach a holiday weekend and the rollout of summer, now is a good time to take concrete steps to give your brain a break. “A break from what?” You may ask. A break from being “on” and in hyper-alert mode for four months straight. 

I’m willing to bet that most of our brains could use a break. For weeks now, they’ve been scanning the news, scrolling through apps, ingesting forecasts, responding to texts, sifting through email, sitting on video conference calls, monitoring chat threads, reviewing to-do lists, and ruminating over what we haven’t been able to accomplish at work.

Giving your brain a break is like taking a mental vacation.  You want to let your brain rest and restore itself, rather than constantly pressuring it to react and respond to all of the information and tasks it’s been holding. Giving your brain a break is crucial because every mind needs time for reflection and regeneration. Your mind needs rest now so that it can help you do your best work and make your best decisions in the near future.

Here are a few simple (but not easy) things you can do to give your brain a break:

  • Take a vacation from the news – Much of the news we ingest is designed to get our attention – it’s sensational. Overtime, it inflames and agitates the brain’s nervous system. If you can, refrain from consuming news for an entire day or a weekend. If you can’t do that, try limiting your intake to once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • Take a break from social media – This means staying away from social media for a day or two. Some people take week-long breaks. Try taking a picture of your family and NOT posting it immediately. Or play a round of miniature golf, and don’t message anyone while you’re playing so that your brain can be present for the whole experience. 
  • Spend time in nature – Time spent in a natural setting walking, picnicking, hiking, swimming, biking or simply sitting and taking in fresh air is a balm for the brain. Listening to the sounds of nature – water rushing, birds chirping, leaves rustling – also helps the mind relax and refresh. 
  • Put your unsolved problems in a box – This technique is designed to help you let go of those problems that cannot be solved by ruminating on them. It’s an interesting exercise in letting go – if only for 24 hours. Write down an unsolved problem and put it in a physical box or container. Consider it an act of decluttering your brain. You will free up space for more creative ideas.
  • Immerse yourself in music or art – Playing music you love, taking in art or photography or film that you are passionate about can relax your mind and release emotions. It’s especially helpful to the emotional sections of the brain that benefit from soothing sounds and beautiful images. 
  • Do something that makes you laugh a lot – Is there a movie you find hysterical? A writer who cracks you up? A comedian who you find endlessly funny? Maybe there’s a friend whose humor brings you to tears (of laughter). Laughter is a great release and relaxant for the brain. Whatever tickles your funny bone, do it. 

During the last four months, our brains have been working overtime. We’ve used them to handle the pandemic, to respond to social, political and economic upheaval. We’ve used them to plan our days, take care of our loved ones, show up for work, and do the best that we can under strange and adverse conditions. I invite you to apply these ideas (or your own) to give your brain the rest it needs. It will thank you.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Is Someone Getting on Your Last Nerve?

My husband was noticeably irritated with me last night. He said that I was “yawn talking.” Do you know what yawn talking is? It’s when you keep talking even as you yawn. Apparently, I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and it’s extremely annoying.

My initial reaction after being accused of “yawn talking,” was to strike back. If I do that, then he “burp talks.” But that isn’t really the point. The point is, we’ve been sheltering in place for too long, and we’re getting on each other’s nerves. Critical words, verbal tics, grating habits, and nonverbal gestures that we might normally have shrugged off are getting to us.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard numerous complaints from my clients about other people’s bad behavior. It could be a boss who is making more-than-usual unreasonable demands. A family member who is acting out. A coworker who is chronically late – even for Zoom meetings. Perhaps you have an upstairs neighbor who is playing loud music or moving furniture late at night.

None of these may be new behaviors, but they feel more irritating today. It’s the emotional by-product of extended captivity in the name of staying safe.

If your nerves are frayed, your temper is quick, and you feel overly reactive to the behavior of others, you are not alone. The question is, what can we do to calm our systems down?

Here are a few tips:

Shift your energy – I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Confined living creates pent up energy which needs to be released one way or another. Run, jog, dance, squirm, have a pillow fight, take a bath, step outside, take ten deep breaths. Do something to shift the energy and relax your system. The more rigorous the movement, the better the release.

Ask yourself, “how important is it?” – If someone criticizes you, interrupts you, ignores you, makes a sarcastic remark, or offends you in some way, try to pause and ask yourself if it’s worth getting upset about. Is this a matter of life or death? Is your welfare truly threatened by this person/event/remark?

Let someone talk you off of the ledge – Sometimes you may know that you are over-reacting but you can’t help yourself. At these times, it’s smart to call a trusted friend or confidante, voice your complaint, and let them calm you down.

Try to find the humor – This isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort. I am forever grateful to those people who can find the humor in difficult moments. Laughter relaxes the nervous system and puts small problems in their proper perspective. If you can find what’s funny in a tense exchange, both parties will benefit.

There is no miracle cure for our frayed nerves at this time. We don’t know exactly when we will be less confined, more mobile, less fearful. While we do our best to manage our lives during the pandemic, let’s all commit to doing what we can to soothe our over-worked nerves.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Living in the Waiting Room

I don’t know about you, but I hate to wait. When faced with a long line at a store, a movie, a food bar or even a gas station, I’m the person who opts out, returning at another time when I won’t have to wait. In fact, until March of this year, waiting for anything seemed like an immense waste of time to me.

That was before the pandemic hit. Before we were all told to shelter in place. Before we understood the importance of social distancing. And before we were asked to wait in line at stores, at banks, at any place where people congregate to conduct their essential business.

Now, waiting is a form of caring, of preventing, of dealing with a situation we don’t yet have under control. We’re waiting for signs that it’s safe for the economy to slowly re-open. We’re waiting to see how schools will operate. We’re waiting to discover when and how sports teams, service businesses, and the entire entertainment industry will re-emerge.

It’s hard to be waiting in so many ways for so many things. The human brain is a planning brain and we desperately want to know what comes next. That unquenchable thirst for answers can mutate into uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, frustration, impatience, agitation, restlessness and even depression.

Today, we are all Living in the Waiting Room. We won’t have to be here forever, but it will be a while before we can re-launch our lives in any significant way. What follows are some thoughts about making the Waiting Room more tolerable:

Bring many forms of entertainment to the Waiting Room– good books, fun movies, knitting projects, crossword puzzles, word games, musical instruments, dance routines, sketch pads, new recipes – anything that takes your attention away from fretting, worrying or obsessing and allows your mind to be creative.

Take physical breaks from sitting in the Waiting Room – Go outside, take a run, go for a hike, yawn, stretch, shake your head and arms, walk around, pound a pillow. Physical movement helps move emotions through your body. Feelings of impatience, frustration and agitation can be reduced by increasing blood flow.

Connect with other people in the Waiting Room – We’ve heard over and over that we are in this together. Nothing confirms that more than striking up conversations with others who are waiting. Even if the novelty of video conferencing has worn off, it’s still essential to reach out to the people you care about and make contact. Human connection lessens anxiety and makes us feel less adrift.

Try not to obsess about when you’re getting out of the Waiting Room – This is a hard request. You know that person in the waiting room who paces back and forth, looks at the time, stares at their phone, insists on being the first to be informed? Don’t be that person. Understand the limits of endless news briefings, medical predictions, scare tactics, and conspiracy theories. None of those items are going to get us out of here faster. And everyone is working on getting things moving again.

One other thing about the Waiting Room – each person, each family has their own set of concerns, their own set of pressures that they are juggling.  Appreciating that we are all dealing with different conditions is part of living in the Waiting Room. You don’t have to feel guilty if your conditions are less difficult than others, but you can be respectful and appreciate the wide range of challenges that each person in the Waiting Room is managing.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Self-Care During Troubled Times

As many of us move through another week of being Sheltered in Place, it becomes increasingly more challenging to break away from the continuous demands of home, work, family, child care, elder care, animal care, and take a moment for ourselves. Without any boundaries or breaks between home life and work life, hard workers just work harder, depleting their energy to the point of either freaking out, blowing up or collapsing from exhaustion. You may find yourself feeling depressed, unfocused, or less productive than usual. For any and all of these circumstances, self-care can help.

Self-Care may seem like a luxury when you are busy trying to juggle work obligations with home responsibilities during a global crisis. Many of the outlets that normally nourish us – gyms, restaurants, places of worship, shopping malls, spas, museums, music venues, nail and hair salons, parks – are not available. We are left to create self-care moments on our own.

Here are nine ways to practice the most basic form of self-care – taking breaks during your day:

  • Go for a 10-minute walk before you start your work day
  • Take a 10-minute relaxation break in the middle of your day using Calm, Headspace, 10% Happier or any other meditation app you like.
  • Insist on a real lunch break during which you refrain from using any screens and actually taste your food.
  • Indulge in a 10-minute music break — Play your favorite songs, and dance or sing along.
  • Buy some flowers for your home and take regular flower breaks – smelling them, touching them, enjoying their beauty.
  • Spend an extra 10-minutes after your bath or shower and give yourself a facial (refer to YouTube for simple facial techniques)
  • Make yourself laugh – Watch your favorite funny animal video, a clip from a comedian or TV show you enjoy, or anything else you know will make you laugh.
  • Let yourself cry – I know, this may seem self-indulgent or weak, but releasing tension or sadness through tears can be very cleansing. You may become tearful as you watch a feel-good movie or an ASPCA commercial. Whatever sparks it, try to give yourself permission to emote.
  • Take a pet break – If you have a pet at home, spend a few moments just sitting with them. Pet them, smile at them, and take in their affection.

Do any of these appeal to you? Did you think of others on your own? Whatever your idea of self-care is, I encourage you to instate a few practices every day. In order to take the best care of others, you need to take care of yourself. 

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Taking Action: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 6

Kathi and Katherine talk about taking action on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

Why is it so difficult to take the actions we know we should take?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.