Monthly Archives: December 2017

When You’re Tapped Before Age 30: 5 Behaviors That Burn Us Out

A version of this article was originally published on Forbes. Sign up for Caroline?s newsletter to get her writing sent straight to your inbox.

In all likelihood, you know what burnout feels like: Exhaustion, disinterest, poor performance, irritability, lack of empathy.

The media often claims it?s caused by bad work environments; bad coworkers; bad bosses. This is partially true: Employees with large caseloads experience burnout more often. And individuals whose jobs revolve around people?such as social workers, customer service representatives, teachers, nurses and police officers?are particularly predisposed it.

Yet research also shows that some employees are more likely to burn out than others in identical work environments. Burnout is weakly correlated to stressful life events but closely linked to traits such as neuroticism and low self-esteem. The evidence for burnout?s internal risk factors is, indeed, well established: A study published in Work and Stress concluded that ?Employee personality is consistently related to burnout.?

Common burnout prescriptions?like rest, medication and vacation?can temporarily relieve our symptoms. But until we permanently alter the behaviors exacerbating our exhaustion, we?ll remain rutted in perpetual recovery . Because, after all, what we do is inextricably linked to how we feel.

Below are five changeable behaviors that fuel burnout:

1. Lack of focus

Millennials are particularly vulnerable to existential distraction. Author Kelly Cutrone told Forbes, ?They don?t know what they are striving for, which makes it really hard to move forward.? Or do anything, for that matter (I?d know!).

Or sometimes we know our calling at our core but don?t pursue it. One study found that incongruence between implicit and explicit motives decreases wellbeing. Translation: saying or doing stuff we don?t actually want is unhealthy. If you?re still parading as a will-be [insert parents?/prestigious profession here] but deep down know that?s not your passion, your burnout will call your bluff. Individuals who act on their internal motivations, in contrast, are less likely to suffer from job burnout.

Choose what you want to do carefully, and then commit wholeheartedly. One study found that professional commitment even has a buffering effect on the development of illness.

2. Self-obsession

Self-obsession materializes in several ways. The most obvious is narcissism, which is linked to burnout among students. In the workplace, narcissism can manifest as conviction of specialness, entitlement, poor teamwork or lack of compassion.

Another common but disguised symptom of self-obsession is rumination: neurotic self-attentiveness and/or heavily emotion-oriented coping. One example of ruminating is dwelling on personal injustices. Teachers who ruminate report higher stress levels and burn out more frequently.

How do we overcome self-obsession?

Help people. You don?t need to feed Africa to benefit from altruism?a trait overwhelmingly linked to higher wellbeing and lower stress. Instead of airing your grievances every time you?re out, listen to and support the people around you. Volunteer. Call your mom.

Be kind to yourself. Interestingly, self-compassion??treating oneself warmly during times of hardship??is negatively correlated with rumination; you can be kind to yourself without fixating on yourself. Instead of freaking out about something you did wrong at work for days, take responsibility, forgive yourself and move on. Simple but hard!

3. Perfectionism

Unhealthy perfectionism?fixation on flawless performance, dread of failure and obsessive approval seeking?predicts burnout. Likewise, acting ?Type A? is related to emotional exhaustion, higher burnout levels and reduced job satisfaction. It?s also, incidentally, an established risk factor for coronary heart disease.

Moreover, because perfectionism causes highly negative feelings when we don?t attain goals, it lowers individual initiative and decreases job passion over time. That is, though perfectionism is typically considered a professional attribute, it?s ultimately demotivating.

Is the anxiety-fraught emotional energy you?re spending on every one of your tasks worth the cost?

4. Seclusion

When we?re exhausted, it?s tempting to watch Netflix alone after work to ?rejuvenate??for months. Self-care is critical, especially when recovering from burnout. But, counterintuitively, one of the best ways to take care of ourselves (and prevent future burnout) is social interaction.

Workplace friendships increase individual innovation and weaken the relationship between unhealthy perfectionism and job burnout. Teachers with higher perceived levels of coworker support report less stress.

By contrast, workers? inability or unwillingness to be intimate with others?what some researchers call social pessimism?predicts poor subjective wellbeing at work.

Instead of adopting a sweeping, unrealistic resolution like ?always say yes to invitations?, consider what kinds of people and social engagements energize you. Remember that hanging out with anxious people may, in turn, make you anxious. Cherry-pick who you?re around, and prioritize these relationships.

5. Pessimism

Of all the above traits, pessimism is the one most closely and frequently associated with burnout. Cynical employees are less likely to seek challenges, social support and feedback at work. The consequence is insufficient resources and impending burnout. Pessimism produces more stress hormones, while optimism is associated with less burnout and job exhaustion.

In one study, asthmatics inhaled basic saline solutions. Those told the solution didn?t do anything experienced no symptoms. Of those told they were instead inhaling allergens, 47.5% experienced attacks. What we believe about our environments directly affects our energy, health and wellbeing?regardless of the reality.

It?s not fair or accurate to say that burnout is all in our heads. But our attitude pertains more to how we feel about work than we might think.

Burnout doesn?t just reduce job satisfaction. Chronically burned out workers exhibit poor memory and difficulty concentrating. They?re also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, headaches, gastrointestinal infections, sleep disturbance and neck pain. They disproportionately suffer from alcoholism and cardiovascular disease. One ten-year study concluded that ?burnout, especially work-related exhaustion, may be a risk for overall survival.?

But don?t take it from me or from science. Try eliminating even one of these behaviors for a week and see what happens. For this sapped nation?s sake, I hope you?ll share your success.

Ready to develop the habits you need to nail your career? Sign up for my weekly newsletter.

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Trump Staff Shakeup

The crisis surrounding the Trump White House and its possible ties to Russia deepened with the disclosure of unreported meetings between the Russian ambassador and Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump?s son-in-law and senior adviser. The disclosure raises questions about whether Kushner was intentionally concealing the meetings and, if so, why? Meanwhile, President Trump is reportedly retaining private legal counsel and considering a major staff shakeup.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Kushner proposed setting up a back-door channel to the Russians using their facilities during the transition.  He did so in a meeting last December with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak and Michael Flynn, who served as national security adviser to the president briefly before he was fired. The Washington Post reported that Kushner?s proposal took Kislyak by surprise. A former U.S. intelligence official quoted in the paper called Kushner?s idea, ?extremely naive or absolutely crazy.?

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee has stepped up its inquiry into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential race by requesting all Russian related documents, emails and phone records beginning June 2015 from the Trump organization, according to the Post.  Investigations are being conducted by committees in the Senate and House, as well as by the FBI.

The number of leaks pertaining to these investigations is extraordinary, and some appear to come from within the White House.   Below the surface members of Trump?s team have been deeply divided, which is not surprising given Trump?s management style.  Moreover, the sheer weight of these daily revelations is taking attention away from other issues, and they have disrupted any progress with Trump?s agenda.

The Russians want economic sanctions imposed on it by the U.S. eased, including those imposed by President Obama for its meddling in the U.S. elections.   In a meeting during the transition last December, Mike Flynn gave the Russian ambassador the impression that sanctions could be revisited after Trump took office.  U.S. intelligence has concluded that the Russians interfered in the November election to tip the scales in favor of Trump over Hillary Clinton.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Clinton of being behind anti-government protests in his country and tough on sanctions.

Kushner also held a previously undisclosed meeting with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, who is chairman of VneshEconomBank, a Russian government institution that is under U.S. sanctions.  Putin used that bank to finance the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which cost a record $50 billion, and he and Gorkov are close.

In March, Reuters reported that, ?at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded towers in southern Florida.?   Both Kushner and Trump have had to raise money to fund their extensive real estate businesses.  Last week, The Washington Post revealed, ?The investigative work now being done by the FBI also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.?   In a written statement, Kushner?s attorney said, ?Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.?

President Trump held no news conferences during his just completed trip overseas, leaving his aides to fend with reporter questions about Russia. Conservative Bill Kristol tweeted Saturday, ?It?s not only that the Trump administration wanted a back channel to Russia, it?s that the Trump family did.?

Next week President Trump will have many tough issues to deal with.  They include his unrealistic and callous budget proposal, his ineptness in dealing with health insurance, and whether the U.S. should withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change.  But no issues will be more difficult than the intensifying investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. election, questions about Trump?s firing of FBI Director James Comey, and Russia?s relationships with the Trump administration and family.

Not even a staff shakeup will bring the president any relief.

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Stephen Colbert Imagines Another Batch Of Donald Trump’s Postcards Home

Donald Trump has got the postcard-writing bug. Kind of.

On Friday?s ?Late Show,? Stephen Colbert imagined another batch of notes that Trump has been sending back to his family members and allies during his first big trip abroad as president.

?The Pope has a Golden Throne too!? he writes to his son, Donald Trump Jr., in one of his missives, referencing meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.

?But for some reason, his doesn?t flush,? he adds.

Check out the rest of the postcards in the clip above.

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– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.