Have you started your individual action plan yet? There’s still time! Start by May 18th, finish by June 30th – it’s your last chance for gold King County!
Have you started your individual action plan yet? There’s still time! Start by May 18th, finish by June 30th – it’s your last chance for gold King County!
Several years ago, I started a job that, for all intents and purposes, was my dream job. At least, it’s what I spent four years of college and two years of internships preparing for. This was my big break, and I was not going to squander it.
I’m of the mindset that while I may not be the smartest or most talented person in the room, I’ll earn my spot at the table with my impressive work ethic. So, I got in early to my office job, stayed late, worked weekends — all the while obsessively worrying about my performance and my future.
Looking back, it’s obvious that my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. But back then, I wore my workaholism like a badge of honor. The way I saw it, I had an awesome job and would work as hard as it took to do well.
As time went by, any semblance of a balanced life went out the window. I had no energy or desire to hang out with my friends, I was neglecting my health and I had become disillusioned with my work. There wasn’t one single catalyst — it wasn’t that I stopped liking the kind of work I did, generally speaking.
Instead, it was a classic case of burnout: multiple, chronic stressors over an extended period of time left me totally drained and no longer performing at my best. In a few short years, I went from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to seriously burnt out. Here are signs you could be headed down the same path.
What Exactly Is Burnout?
As it turns out, my story isn’t uncommon; many millennial women are experiencing job burnout before they even turn 30. The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.”
“A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress,” says Dr. Ballard, who is the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”
Left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for.
Dr. Ballard let us in on 10 signs you may be experiencing burnout:
A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.
2. Lack of Motivation
When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout. Other ways this manifests? It may be harder to get going in the morning and more difficult to drag yourself into work every day.
3. Frustration, Cynicism and Other Negative Emotions
You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to. While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.
4. Cognitive Problems
Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate. When we’re stressed, our attention narrows to focus on the negative element that we perceive as a threat. In the short term, this helps us deal with the problem at hand, Dr. Ballard says, “but our bodies and brains are designed to handle this in short bursts and then return to normal functioning. When stress becomes chronic, this narrow focus continues for a long time and we have difficulty paying attention to other things.”
This “fight or flight” tunnel vision can negatively affect your ability to solve problems or make decisions. You might find that you’re more forgetful and have a harder time remembering things.
5. Slipping Job Performance
Not sure whether you’re burnt out? Compare your job performance now to your performance in previous years. Because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time, taking this long-term view might reveal whether you’re in a temporary slump or experiencing more chronic burnout.
6. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work
This tends to play out in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with other people, such as getting into arguments, or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.
7. Not Taking Care of Yourself
When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep. Self-medication is another issue and could include relying on sleeping pills to sleep, drinking more alcohol at the end of the day to de-stress or even drinking more coffee to summon up the energy to drag yourself into work in the morning.
8. Being Preoccupied With Work… When You’re Not at Work
Even though you might not be working at a given moment, if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day. In order to recover, you need time to yourself after the actual task stops … and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.
9. Generally Decreased Satisfaction
This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life. You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck when it comes to whatever is going on at home, in the community or with your social activities, Dr. Ballard says.
10. Health Problems
Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.
And If You Are Experiencing Burnout?
Dr. Ballard let us in on what to do if you recognize the above symptoms in yourself.
Take Relaxation Seriously
Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.
Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life
Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going — whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).
While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
Get Enough Sleep
Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too: We’ve seen that sleep can actually improve your memory.
Recovering from chronic stress and burnout requires removing or reducing the demands on you and replenishing your resources. Sleep is one strategy for replenishing those resources. For inspiration, check out our tips to get better sleep.
Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout — it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.
Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them
Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors, Dr. Ballard says, and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well.
Some burnout really is the fault of work. “In a survey we did in 2011, more than two-thirds of respondents said that their employers had taken steps to cut costs as a result of the recession,” like hiring freezes, layoffs, cutting work hours, rolling back benefits, requiring unpaid days off, increasing hours, etc. All that increases demands on workers,” he says. “Those are the two components that play into burnout: There are more demands and fewer resources.” To find out whether it’s time to move on, figure out whether your position is a “mismatch between your needs and what you’re getting working for that particular organization.”
Figure Out When Enough Is Enough
Consider talking to your manager or HR about EAP services, mental health benefits or stress management training — or at least about how to improve communication and create a better, more positive work environment. Angle the conversation about how those cultural shifts will enable you to continue to serve the company and become an even better employee.
“I do think there are times when, no matter what you try to do, the organization is unable or unwilling to make those changes,” Dr. Ballard says, “and in those c
By JC Peters for Spirituality & Health Magazine
Increasingly over the past couple of years, I’ve been having outbreaks of hives and itchy skin. I finally sat down with an allergist, who gave it to me straight. I am allergic to pineapples, apples, and — get this — anything that touches my skin. Anything that rubs, scratches or irritates my skin will create the itchy, irritating hives. He said, “Your problem isn’t actually the allergies. It’s stress and anxiety, so I would get that under control if you can.”
Funny. I’ve been trying to get my stress and anxiety under control since I collapsed into a heap of wracking sobs in front of my math teacher in high school because I was in school full time, socializing full time and working eight-hour days on the weekends, so couldn’t complete my math homework. Ironic, perhaps, that a yoga teacher would struggle so much with stress, but ask any one of us and we will probably tell you that’s how we got into this field in the first place.
It’s not that we are “Type-A” personalities or workaholics. Our culture has been mainlining stress, and we are accidental junkies. We think relaxation is something you do on a vacation that you worked 80-hour weeks for years to “deserve,” and when we see it in everyday life, we recoil in fear and disgust and label it “laziness.”
Yesterday, I noticed a billboard for a coffee shop advertising an even faster way to pay. The image was a coffee mug and a doughnut moving so quickly the doughnut’s sprinkles were flying off. Sitting down for a coffee and a doughnut used to mean a pause from a stressful day, a quiet moment before having to rush off again. Now a “coffee break” is another cog in our Faster Machine.
What appears to be happening is a slow but certain takeover of our sympathetic nervous system (SNS), sometimes called the “stress state,” from the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which governs healing and rest. Both systems are always present in the body, but one is usually functioning more than the other. Calling the SNS the “stress state” gives it a bit of a negative connotation, which isn’t quite right. We need stress to survive, and having appropriate periods of stress gets us out of the house in the morning, helps us follow our dreams, and yes, if necessary, helps us run away from a bear.
The problem is that our SNS easily gets stuck in the “on” position. Even when we appear to be relaxed, the SNS is still highly functioning, preventing the PNS from taking over and allowing us to rest, digest, process emotion, and stimulate the immune system. Nightmares and clenched jaws indicate that we can even sleep in a stress state. If you’re like me, being at a low buzz of stress feels so normal that deep relaxation and stillness is so unfamiliar it’s almost uncomfortable. Our stress habits are so strong that, ironically, being comfortable is beyond our comfort zone.
The good news is that even though the SNS is very easily triggered, there are triggers for the PNS as well that we can practice more often to rehabilitate our stress addictions.
The most important tool we can use to retrain ourselves is awareness. What does it feel like to be in a relaxed state? What triggers me back into a state of stress? What are the signs?
In order to see these signs, you must first know what it feels like to be relaxed. Actually relaxed.
Viparita Karani, or Legs Up the Wall, is a yoga pose that strongly stimulates the PNS, and all you need is a floor and a wall or even a bed or couch. If you can get out to a restorative yoga class, even better, but this is one you can do everyday. Always check with your doctor first if you are pregnant or have any health concerns.
Sit with one hip touching the wall. Roll down onto your forearms as you swing your legs up the wall, and shimmy as close to the wall as you feel comfortable. No need to touch the wall with your bum.
Lie on your back, hands on your belly, out to the sides or up overhead, whichever one feels most comfortable to you. Lifting your legs off the floor tells your body in no uncertain terms that you are not “on the go” right now. Your sprinkles are going to stay firmly on your doughnut here.
If you have a bolster or pillow, slide it under your hips and adjust it for comfort. If you have a blanket, drape it over your legs for warmth and support. If you have an eye pillow or a scarf, place it over your eyes. Warmth, comfort, quiet, and darkness are a few excellent PNS triggers.
You can stay here for up to 20 minutes if you are comfortable, but five minutes is enough. When you are ready to come out, do so slowly, bending your knees and rolling onto your right side before you come all the way up. Take your time and remember this feeling of relaxation as you notice what triggers you back into your SNS.
Now we have a program for stress rehab. Good luck, and godspeed you keep your sprinkles on.
By Ms Deb and Kelly Twedt
In their latest version of “Biggest Loser” SweetHeart-Valentine Edition, Kaila Tang, Public Health Nurse, took the grand prize of $220 and the title of winner (or is it Loser?) of the Sweet Heart-Healthy Heart Biggest Loser Contest. Congratulations Kaila!
Originally inspired by our own Seattle/King County “Healthy Incentives” program, White Center made their 3rd effort at promoting overall health, weight loss, and employee well-being with an added focus on trying to be extra “Heart Smart” this go round. (And a little monetary incentive never hurt anyone.)
Each time, Ms Deb & Kelly Twedt combine their creative ideas and coordinate the Biggest Loser Contest; each contest has a special theme. From January 14th – February 14th, 11 participants found various ways to sneak in work outs and reduce sodium/caloric intake, while making conscious decisions to feed their bodies better.
The rules are simple and fair. Participants pay a $ 20 participants fee later. The participant with the highest % of weight loss is the winner—and WINNER TAKES ALL!!!
We, have an initial, confidential weigh-in, and a final weigh-out in 30 days .
Ya look good, ya feel good! The team work and support was immeasurable! Even WC’s fabulous, non-participating coworkers gave encouragement by bringing fresh fruits and healthy snacks to munch on!
On Thursday, Feb 14th we also had a Heart Healthy luncheon and all staff brought their favorite low sodium, low fat dish. It was Yummy!
If anyone’s wondering when the next Biggest Loser Contest is, make note! Maybe…A May 2013 Swimsuit Biggest Loser???? And how about a challenge to the other Public Health sites to jump on board and see how many losers you can find at your site!
Come Join Us! White Center @ Green Bridge is ready!!
I get a fresh box of food each week and this week I found Sunchoke’s. I have never cooked with them, so needed some help. They sound just wonderful and I am going to try this recipe for my ski outing on Mount Saint Helen’s on Sunday. Sounds amazing!
Raw sunchokes, sometimes called Jerusalem artichokes, are spotlighted as the featured ingredient in this unique sandwich. Crunchy pecans and a smooth creamy avocado sauce pair up in supporting roles. Serve the sandwich with a salad and fruit for a tasty light meal.
Sunchoke Pecan Sandwich is one of the delicious recipes in Zel Allen’s cookbook The Nut Gourmet: Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion published by Book Publishing Company in 2006.
Yield: 3 to 4 sandwiches
1 ripe avocado
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 120 ml) organic canola oil
2 cups (480 ml) coarsely shredded sunchokes
1/2 cup (120 ml) raw or toasted pecans, coarsely chopped or coarsely ground
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 to 8 slices whole grain bread (pita is a good option too)
12 to 16 large basil leaves
3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 to 4 butter lettuce leaves
To make the avocado sauce, wash the avocado, cut it in half, scoop out the flesh, and place it in the blender. Add the lemon juice, salt, and cayenne and blend briefly. With the machine running, slowly add the canola oil, using just enough to create a thick, creamy sauce. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar and stir the mixture.
To make the sunchoke filling, combine the sunchokes, pecans, and red bell pepper in a medium bowl. Add enough of the avocado sauce to moisten and hold the mixture together. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
Spread a thin coating of the avocado sauce over one side of each of the bread slices. Spread the sunchoke mixture over half the bread slices and top with the basil leaves, tomato slices, and lettuce. Place the remaining bread slices over the filling and cut the sandwiches in half..
When I think of Valentine’s Day two things come to mind, Red and Chocolate. I think both are good for you. Red because it’s the color of daring, edgy, fast living and chocolate, well because not only is it one of the best foods on the planet, it’s also good for you.
Chocolate played a special role in both Maya and Aztec royal and religious events. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the gods and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies. All of the areas that were conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a “tribute”.
It’s old and worshiped. It’s also good for you. A new study suggests that eating chocolate can help you stay thin. Researchers at the University of California-San Diego found that people who frequently eat chocolate have lower body-mass indexes than people who don’t. Other evidence indicates that chocolate can also ward off strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes. So here are 11 reasons to indulge in some good, dark chocolate today.
1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk
A Swedish study found that eating more than 45 grams of chocolate per week—about two bars worth—led to a 20 percent decrease in stroke risk among women. Chocolate contains flavonoids, whose antioxidant properties help fight strokes, the study’s author, Susanna Larsson, told HealthDay.
2. Chocolate reduces the likelihood of a heart attack
Other studies show that eating chocolate prevents blood clots, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attacks. Blood platelets clump together more slowly in chocolate eaters, the studies say.
3. Chocolate protects against blood inflammation
Eat one dark chocolate bar per week, and your risk of heart disease will decrease, a 2008 study found. About 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day keeps the blood inflammation-inducing proteins away. Just like your mother always told you.
4. Chocolate helps with math
British psychologists found that flavanols (a class of flavonoids, which are found in chocolate) helped people with their mental math. Study subjects had an easier time counting backwards from a randomly-generated number between 800 and 999 after drinking a cup of hot chocolate than they did without the cocoa. “The findings suggest students who binge on chocolate when cramming for exams may gain a real benefit from doing so,” the British Telegraph reported.
5. Chocolate may prevent cancer
Cocoa contains a compound called pentameric procyanidin, or pentamer, which disrupts cancer cells’ ability to spread. When researchers from the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University treated cancer cells with pentamer back in 2005, the proteins necessary for cancer growth were suppressed and the cells stopped dividing.
6. Chocolate reduces the risk of diabetes
The Italians know a thing or two about good eating.And a small study from the University of L’Aquila, in Italy, found that eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, which reduces the risk of diabetes.
7. Chocolate is good for your skin
“Some people say that I eat too many chocolate bars …” Remember that acne infomercial from the 90s? No? Well, it doesn’t matter. Not only does it not cause breakouts, it’s actually good for your skin! (Well, dark chocolate at least.) Flavonoids found in dark chocolate protect women’s skin from the sun’s UV rays, according to German scientists. But that doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen.
8. Chocolate can control coughs
The most delicious way to kick your cough, apparently, is chocolate. One of the sweet’s chemical components, theobromine, seems to reduce the activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers coughing fits. Scientists are even working on a cough-quelling drug that uses theobromine in place of codeine—a narcotic common in cough medicine.
9. Chocolate improves blood flow
In 2008 Harvard scientists forced test subjects to undergo “two weeks of enhanced chocolate intake.” A fortnight of chocolate face-stuffing, they found, sped up blood flow through their subject’s middle cerebral arteries. In other words, more chocolate means more blood to your brain.
10. Chocolate strengthens your brain
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University found that dark chocolate shields cells in your brain, and accordingly protects it from damage caused by stroke. Epicatechin, a compound found in chocolate, significantly reduced the brain damage in mice who suffered strokes, they found. Scientists at California’s Salk Institute also found that epicatechin improved mice’s memories.
11. Chocolate makes you live longer
Jeanne Louise Calment lived to the age of 122—the oldest anyone has ever lived. She ate two and a half pounds of dark chocolate per week. Harvard researchers found that eating chocolate actually adds two years to your life expectancy.
But don’t just start binging on chocolate! Most of the chocolate you buy in the grocery store is heavily processed, which means that it has lost many of its healthy chemicals. And some of the research supporting chocolate’s healthy characteristics was paid for by chocolate manufacturers.
My newest favorite thing is Words-With-Friends. It is scrabble game you can play on your phone, ipad, droid table, mobile web or facebook. It’s so super fun! You can have many games going at once with many different people. If the word you put on the board is not a word, it will reject it immediately. The game keeps score for you, tells you whose turn it is, and when one player has won, it’s game over….no discussion.
There are also apps you can add that will help you! There is word helper, and scrabble helper. These can come in quite handy, but some might feel this is cheating.
I am probably late to this game, given it was created by Zinga (of farmville fame). It’s really nice to have a fun game you can play anywhere at any time!