Burnout or Stressed Out?

For many years now, the last week of November has been the busiest of the entire calendar year.  Projects wrapping up.  Work shaping to start in January.  Preparations for the holidays. Interruptions due to winter weather.  And in my case, two birthdays to celebrate.  (Happy birthday boys!)

With full days like these, it can feel as though your to do list will never be done. There are never enough hours in the day.  You feel limited by the lack of capability to be in two places at once.  Stress is in us and all around us.  

How do you know if what you're feeling is merely the product of a busy time or something more?  I have experienced both stress and burnout... neither of which I recommend.  The two are very different in how they feel and it is vital that one begins on the path of healing as soon as possible.    

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, author Monique Valcour identifies the difference between the common conditions of stress and burnout.  Check out the full article here.  

According to Valcour, burnout is comprised of 3 things:

1.  Exhaustion - "profound physical, cognitive, and emotional fatigue" 

2.  Cynicism - "an erosion of engagement" or depersonalization in which create distance between yourself and the source of stress

3.  Inefficacy - "feelings of incompetence and a lack of achievement and productivity" 

Whether you are experiencing the stress or burnout Valcour's suggestion of increasing self-care, seeking out connections, using the power of perspective and reducing your exposure to stressors are excellent methods of maintaining good health in a busy time.