Stop the Madness

I’m sure you have heard your friends and colleagues talk about their busy lives; busy at work, busy kids (having to bring them everywhere), busy social activities, busy talking care of elderly parents, busy preparing gourmet dinners….. Sounds familiar? Maybe not only friends and colleagues, what about your reality?

Last week I delivered a workshop for the local Professional Women’s Network (PWN) on “Burnout: Warning Signals and Coping Strategies”. 16 women, of whom most of them could recognize this busyness described, and the majority had experienced deep level of stress or a burnout of some degree.

A challenge is that we want to perform in all arenas of life; in the workplace, at home, with friends and wider family, and personally (e.g; sports).  Women tend to be “worse” than men, wanting perfectionism and putting very high expectations on themselves. But, in the long run, it doesn’t work, there has to be slack somewhere. Women in Europe have a higher percentage of sick leave than men (in certain countries as much as 80% more than men!), so something has to change.

One arena that could implement change is the workplace. I’m attaching an excellent article on that subject. Some companies have understood the importance of creativity, and that over-worked employees are not creative. E.g. one business expects; “IF YOU CANNOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO YOUR JOB IN 40 HOURS, WE WILL FIRE YOU.” Read all about it here:

Another arena is our heads.. Be conscious that we have a choice. Choose your employer, or how you want to respond to the conditions at your workplace. Prioritize; what needs to be done, what is a nice-to-do; « do I need this to be perfect or not? » In my workshop the participants had several suggestions to how one can manage life better and avoiding the feeling of overload:

  • Remember what is important
  • Meditation
  • A good laugh
  • Keep things in perspective
  • Setting limits
  • Time off; self-time
  • Celebrate

The last point is important, yet often forgotten; celebrate our successes, and celebrate what goes well, be grateful for the little (and big) things in life. This is a contributor to positive thinking and good mental health. Good mental health impacts good physical health. On that point, there has been a study done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). They interviewed 30,000 adults in the U.S. over an eight-year period. Participants were asked how much stress they’d experienced in the previous year, and if they believed that stress was harmful to their health. Public death records were used to find out who died over the eight-year period. The interesting results were;

  • People who experienced a lot of stress had a 43 percent higher risk of dying—but only if they also believed that stress was harmful to them.
  • People who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful were no more likely to die. In fact, they had a lower risk of dying than anyone else in the study—even people with relatively little stress.
  • Conclusion : How you think about stress matters. When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.

When I say “stop the madness” I think we can start with ourselves. If you suffer from too much “busyness”, consider what matters to you. Make baby step changes in the direction you want to go. Communicate to others what matters to you. If enough people do just that, it will have an impact on the surroundings – as we have already seen in the article attached above. And, you can always get a coach to help you out, feel free to contact me!