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Life is not always easy, in fact it often feels as challenging as having to walk a tightrope to get to where we want to go. We all have goals and dreams, but how we respond and how well prepared we are for when the going gets tough defines whether or not we achieve those goals.

Often we may even feel that we don’t have any other choice but to give up. We end up feeling stressed, even depressed or suffering from anxiety when things don’t quite go as expected.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Resilience and empowerment

It is possible to develop a resilience that will help you achieve your goals and reach fulfilment. Part of this involves learning and implementing techniques that will empower you to get yourself through the more difficult days and continue driving towards your goals.

If you are prepared and believe that you can get the best from yourself then you will be more likely to have the resolve to keep moving forward. To find out how you can be empowered to stand up to the challenges that life may put in your way, then Aspire Counselling would be happy to help you.  Psychology and counselling are not something to shy away from, in fact they can be key to empowering you.  Our therapies include Choice Theory Reality Therapy (CTRT), Lead Management, Mindfulness, Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

You can also visit our website to book an online or face to face session with us. http://aspirecounselling.net

Contact Aspire Counselling at info@aspirecounselling.net or call 6570 2781 to find out more about our services for men, women, adolescents, couples, families and corporates.

Even the best jobs can lead to burnout. The harder you work and the more motivated you are to succeed, the easier it is to get in over your head.

The following article appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, and was written by Dr Travis Bradbury.  The image shown accompanied the original article and is from Getty.

The prevalence of burnout is increasing as technology further blurs the line between work and home. New research from the American Psychological Association and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reported the following:

  • 48% of Americans experienced increased stress over the past 5 years
  • 31% of employed adults have difficulty managing their work and family responsibilities
  • 53% say work leaves them “overtired and overwhelmed.”

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) poll found that “burnout from my current job” was one of the top reasons that people quit.

Burnout can get the better of you, even when you have great passion for your work. Arianna Huffington experienced this first hand when she almost lost an eye from burnout. She was so tired at work that she passed out, hitting her face on her desk. She broke her cheek bone and had to get four stitches on her eye.

“I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion.”   –Arianna Huffington

Burnout often results from a misalignment of input and output; you get burnt out when you feel like you’re putting more into your work than you’re getting out of it. Sometimes this happens when a job isn’t rewarding, but more often than not it’s because you aren’t taking care of yourself.

Before you can treat and even prevent burnout, you need to recognize the warning signs so that you’ll know when it’s time to take action. Here they are, in no particular order.

Health problems. Burnout has a massive, negative impact upon your physical and mental health. Whether you’re experiencing back pain, depression, heart disease, obesity, or you’re just getting sick a lot, you need to consider the role your work is playing in this. You’ll know when burnout is affecting your health, and you’ll just have to decide whether your approach to work is worth the consequences.

Cognitive difficulties. Research shows that stress hammers the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function. Executive function impacts your memory, decision-making abilities, emotional control, and focus. When you notice that you’re making silly mistakes, forgetting important things, having outbursts of emotion, or making poor decisions, you’re likely burning out.

Difficulty with work and personal relationships. Stress bleeds over into everything you do, particularly how you interact with people. Even when you feel that you’re keeping your stress under control at work, it can rear its ugly head at home. Often it’s your relationships that suffer. Stress makes many people more likely to snap at others, lose their cool, and get involved in silly, unnecessary conflicts. Others are more inclined to withdraw and avoid people they care about.

Taking your work home with you. You know that sickening feeling when you’re lying in bed thinking about all the work that you didn’t get done and hoping that you didn’t miss something important? When you can’t stop thinking about work when you’re at home, it’s a strong sign that you’re burning out.

Fatigue. Burnout often leads to exhaustion because of the toll stress takes on your mind and body. The hallmarks of burnout fatigue are waking up with no energy after a good night’s sleep, drinking large amounts of caffeine to get you through the day, or having trouble staying awake at work.

Negativity. Burnout can turn you very negative, even when you’re usually a positive person. If you find yourself focusing on the down side of situations, judging others and feeling cynical, it’s clear that negativity has taken hold and it’s time for you to do something about it.

Decreased satisfaction. Burnout almost always leads to a nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Projects and people that used to get you excited no longer do so. This dip in satisfaction makes work very difficult, because no matter what you’re putting into your job, you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of it.

Losing your motivation. We begin jobs in a honeymoon phase, seeing everything through rose-colored glasses. When you’re in this phase, motivation comes naturally. In a burnout state, you struggle to find the motivation to get the job done. You may complete tasks, and even complete them well, but the motivation that used to drive you is gone. Instead of doing work for the sake of the work itself, your motivation stems from fear—of missing deadlines, letting people down, or getting fired.

Performance issues. People who burn out are often high achievers, so when their performance begins to slip, others don’t always notice. It’s crucial to monitor your slippage. How were you performing a month ago? Six months ago? A year ago? If you see a dip in your performance, it’s time to determine if burnout is behind it.

Poor self-care. Life is a constant struggle against the things that feel good momentarily but aren’t good for you. When you experience burnout, your self-control wanes and you find yourself succumbing to temptations more easily. This is largely due to the way that stress compromises your decision-making and self-control and also partially due to lower levels of confidence and motivation.

Fighting Burnout

If you recognize many of these symptoms in yourself, don’t worry. Fighting burnout is a simple matter of self-care. You need good ways to separate yourself from your work so that you can recharge and find balance. The following will help you to accomplish this.

Disconnect. Disconnecting is the most important burnout strategy on this list, because if you can’t find time to remove yourself electronically from your work, then you’ve never really left work. Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire evening or weekend off from handling work e-mails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times to check in on emails and respond to voicemails. For example, on weekday evenings, you may check emails after dinner, and on the weekend you may check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are playing sports. Scheduling such short blocks of time alleviates stress without sacrificing your availability.

Pay attention to your body signals. It’s easy to think that a headache is the result of dehydration, that a stomachache is the result of something you ate, and that an aching neck is from sleeping on it wrong, but that’s not always the case. Oftentimes, aches and pains are an accumulation of stress and anxiety. Burnout manifests in your body, so learn to pay attention to your body’s signals so that you can nip burnout in the bud. Your body is always talking, but you have to listen.

Schedule relaxation. It’s just as important to plan out your relaxation time as it is to plan out when you work. Even scheduling something as simple as “read for 30 minutes” benefits you greatly. Scheduling relaxing activities makes certain they happen as well as gives you something to look forward to.

Stay away from sleeping pills. When I say sleeping pills, I mean anything you take that sedates you so that you can sleep. Whether it’s alcohol, Nyquil, Benadryl, Valium, Ambien, or what have you, these substances greatly disrupt your brain’s natural sleep process. Have you ever noticed that sedatives can give you some really strange dreams? As you sleep and your brain removes harmful toxins, it cycles through an elaborate series of stages, at times shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams). Sedation interferes with these cycles, altering the brain’s natural process. Anything that interferes with the brain’s natural sleep process has dire consequences for the quality of your sleep, and you need adequate, quality sleep to avoid burnout.

Get organized. Much of the stress we experience on a daily basis doesn’t stem from having too much work; it stems from being too disorganized to handle the work effectively. When you take the time to get organized, the load feels much more manageable.

Take regular breaks during the workday. Physiologically, we work best in spurts of an hour to an hour and a half, followed by 15-minute breaks. If you wait until you feel tired to take a break, it’s too late—you’ve already missed the window of peak productivity and fatigued yourself unnecessarily in the process. Keeping to a schedule ensures that you work when you’re the most productive and that you rest during times that would otherwise be unproductive.

Lean on your support system. It’s tempting to withdraw from other people when you’re feeling stressed, but they can be powerful allies in the war against burnout. Sympathetic family and friends are capable of helping you. Spending time with people who care about you helps you to remove yourself from the stresses of work and reminds you to live a little and have fun.

Bringing It All Together

If these strategies don’t work for you, then the problem might be your job. The wrong job can cause burnout in and of itself. In that case you’ll have to decide what’s more important: your work or your health.

How do you beat burnout? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

If you’d like to learn how to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ), consider taking the online Emotional Intelligence Appraisal® test that’s included with the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book. Your test results will pinpoint which of the book’s 66 emotional intelligence strategies will increase your EQ the most.

“I really struggled to get out of bed today. Did you?

I didn’t get up until noon. It was the same yesterday. Then I was hard on myself for it and as a result, I had a miserable day.  Today, the same happened, but I decided to be kind to myself. The difference? I gave myself a break and refused to feel guilty or bad about it. Today I’m happier, smiling even, working and I believe that tomorrow will be easier. And if it’s not I’ll try again. I need to be kind to myself.”

These are the words of a sufferer of Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and ADHD.  Many will be able to relate to them. No one says you should feel bad if you can’t live a perfect, happy life every single day. Let’s be realistic we all have our off-days. Be kind to yourself instead of getting more upset with yourself when you aren’t feeling at your best. Self-compassion is a useful way to help you get through your day.

Do seek help if you or someone you know needs help to learn coping techniques and strategies for days when not feeling at your best. If you can’t get out or bed, like the writer, it might be a sign that something isn’t quite right, or you are avoiding something. Aspire Counselling has a range of techniques that it can teach you to help you with your life. We do these in ways that will allow it to become habitual for you, so you won’t be dependent upon us. You will learn to manage your own life successfully.  You’ll find these techniques useful in everyday life too.

For details on our Counselling and Psychotherapy services, email Aspire Counselling at info@aspirecounselling.net, call us on  6570 2781 or visit our website where you can book online face-to-face or video counselling sessions.  https://www.aspirecounselling.net

SOBERNATION – August 19, 2016 by Chris Boutte

From the moment I became sober back in 2012, I’ve been on a constant journey to improve who I am as a person. This is something I learned from going to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Meetings, a sponsor, and the steps taught me that drugs and alcohol were but a symptom of my disease. I had a major problem with living life.

My journey throughout the last four years has been incredible, and I am a much different person. Like a good addict, I always think I need more. Today I am grateful that I can focus that on self-discovery and self-improvement rather than self-destruction. This path led me to research something called mindfulness.

My name is Chris Boutte. I am currently the Lead Alumni Coordinator for American Untitled design (11)Addiction Centers, and I’m based out of Desert Hope in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am not a doctor or therapist. Heck, I only went to college for a semester. I’m a bit of a recovery

However, I am a bit of a recovery nerd, so I spend a lot of time researching the disease of addiction and learning how to strengthen my own recovery. For a few months, I kept seeing articles about something called mindfulness and how it could be used to improve work, relationships and life in general. Out of curiosity, I wondered if it could help people recover from addiction. I happened to find a book called The Mindful Path to Addiction Recovery, and it intrigued me.

Since reading the book and learning how it can benefit people struggling with addiction, I decided to enroll in a six-week mindfulness course. I loved it so much that I then enrolled in the next course, which is about teaching mindfulness to others. Since practicing mindfulness, I feel my recovery has improved greatly, and I also realized that AA and NA had already taught me some mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

One of the best descriptions of mindfulness comes from Jon Kabat Zinn who founded the Stress Reduction Clinic as well as the Center for Mindfulness. He says, “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness practice is all about increasing one’s ability to have very short instances of moment-to-moment awareness for longer periods of time. Some of you may be wondering what this has to do with anything, and others may already be thinking about how this helps with addiction recovery.

Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these questions. Opinions vary considerably as to why the alcoholic reacts differently from normal people. We are not sure why, once a certain point is reached, little can be done for him. We cannot answer the riddle.” -Alcoholics Anonymous Page 22

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was written in the 1930s, but now we have many more answers due to technological advances and research into addiction. Addicts and alcoholics have an issue with the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain has a slew of responsibilities, and one of them is impulse control. I truly believe that I had addictive traits long before drugs and alcohol came into the mix, and impulse control was always an issue. Us addicts instantly react on our impulses, which is why there’s often no thought before the first drink or drug. By increasing our moment-to-moment awareness, we’re able to pump the brakes before we pick up that first drink or drug.

AA and NA Taught Me Mindfulness Without Me Knowing It

Like most addicts in early recovery, I was a hot mess. I was restless, irritable and discontent. I didn’t know who I was without drugs or alcohol, and I didn’t know how to act. I had a sponsor who constantly reminded me not to trust my thinking because it’s what put me in my awful situation. That made sense, so I started taking suggestions from others. The cliché sayings the men and women of the fellowship were telling me was my first glimpse of mindfulness, and I didn’t even realize it then.

“Take it one day at a time.”

Although mindfulness is about moment-to-moment awareness, this was a stepping stone. They told me to just stay sober one day at a time. I had an issue living in the past or worrying about the future. I’d often ask myself, “How am I supposed to stay sober forever?!” They taught me that I only had to stay sober for today. When I was craving, I only had to stay sober for that hour, that minute or that second.

The Three Questions

I had a lot of anger issues when I got sober. I blamed the world for my problems, and I also had an unexplainable ego. I truly thought that my way was the right way, which caused me to get into a lot of arguments and put myself in bad situations. Someone in a meeting taught me to pause and ask myself these questions:

“Does it need to be said?”
“Does it need to be said right now?”
“Does it need to be said by me?”
This took quite a bit of practice, but it taught me to pause. It taught me to be mindful of what I was about to do. While I still sometimes said things that I immediately regretted, it started to happen less and less.

How am I feeling?

Working on my fourth step taught me to be mindful of the way I was feeling. I used to get resentful, sad or anxious, and I couldn’t figure out why. Even if I knew why, I would judge myself for feeling the way I felt, or I’d judge the other person for making me feel that way. The fourth step really helped me get clarity as to why I was feeling these emotions, and it gave me the opportunity to work on my issues. Mindfulness and acceptance go hand-in-hand.

In the online mindfulness course I was enrolled in, I noticed many people were having trouble with the practices. Assuming that I was the only recovering addict in the class, I started to see that the fellowships of AA and NA had already given me a jumpstart on mindfulness practice.

How Mindfulness is Improving My Recovery

I am by no means a mindfulness expert, but I’ve been practicing mindfulness for a few months, and I can see how it’s been strengthening my recovery in a variety of different aspects. They sometimes say in meetings that after you get some time, it’s not about not picking up, it’s about dealing with life on life’s terms. Meetings, a sponsor, and step work are still a valuable part of my recovery, but mindfulness has been added into the mix, and it’s continued to improve my day-to-day life.

Stress and anxiety are feelings that aren’t limited to addicts alone. They’re part of human nature. There are days where I can feel overwhelmed from the time I wake up in the morning. Juggling work, a seven-year-old, friends, family, and recovery can sometimes cause my mind to race. Also like most people, I begin to worry about the future. “How am I going to pay this bill?” or “How am I going to complete this next task?” are regular thoughts many of us have. Mindfulness helps me recognize these feelings and bring myself back in the moment.

The best part about using mindfulness as a form of stress reduction is that I can literally do it anywhere. I’ve found that I begin having stress or anxiety the most in the morning on my drive to work, and it may not even be for reasons related to work. To come back to the present moment, I place my hand in front of my A/C vent in my car and feel the cool air coming through. I recognize the way the steering wheel feels in my hand. I start to notice the colors of vehicles around me and the weather. I may even mindfully listen to the song playing through my speakers as a way to be brought back to the moment, and I feel much better after only doing this for a minute or two.

My listening skills during conversations have become much better because I’m able to stay in the moment much better. I can listen to clients, coworkers, friends and my son with more focus. I’ve seen how this has helped me with simply providing somebody with my undivided attention rather than fiddling with my phone, thinking about other tasks or judging what the other person is saying.

The Ultimate Perks

For me, the primary benefit of mindfulness is acknowledging happiness and joy. Due to human evolution, our brains are designed to focus on the negative as a form of survival. Mindfulness has taught me bring attention to my happiness and serenity. In early recovery, I remember being more mindful of just feeling well physically and mentally because I was free from active addiction, but eventually I stopped noticing it. Today, I can bring attention to my positive feelings more than ever, and it’s truly a great experience.

The byproducts of mindfulness are endless, and I hope this article helped shed some light as to how it can help you in your daily life no matter who you are or how much clean time you have. I highly recommend that if you’re like me and wish to add to your recovery tool kit, research some mindfulness practices and continue to strengthen your recovery.

SOBERNATION – August 19, 2016 by Chris Boutte

#sober #self-improvement #self-discovery #self-destruction

Recently, my husband severely injured his right hand, requiring emergency surgery and a stay in the hospital. This was stressful on many different levels: emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. I had to find friends to watch our kids, arrange follow-ups with doctors, and learn how to care for my husband who would have difficulty caring for himself for a while. It was overwhelming, to say the least.

Coping with the trauma of the event itself was something completely different. I’d observed my husband’s mutilated hand, and witnessed his agony, which was very troubling. Once I realized how bad the injury was, I had to go completely into crisis mode. That expends a lot of my extra energy and I ended up sobbing uncontrollably several times that difficult day.

With my recent Type I Bipolar diagnosis, I know that I have to stay away from stress as much as possible. But what happens when the stress comes to me? What happens when the unthinkable occurs? How does one with Bipolar Disorder cope with those events?

I’m certainly no expert in this area, but I found a few things that really helped me stabilize myself when I felt like the ominous string of sudden responsibilities would envelop me. I hope you find them helpful, as well

7 Tips For Coping With Stressful Events When You're Bipolar

1. Setting healthy boundaries. I started with backing off of all unimportant projects that were unrelated to the event, making sure I wrote them down to get to at a later date.

2. Rearranging priorities. This is when I really had to divide the necessary from the unnecessary. I started from the source of the trauma and worked my way out, noting the most important people that needed my care first.

3. Taking personal time. It’s important for me to continue to listen to what my body needs in order to stay balanced. I had to do my best to keep from continuously ignoring my own needs for those of someone else.

4. Staying organized. If you need to manage an unprecedented schedule, you’ll want to be as organized as possible. It’s harder to do when you’re in the middle of a crisis, so I like to stick to easy ways of keeping a schedule, like using a planner or my phone’s calendar app.

5. Getting enough rest. I can’t emphasize this one enough. Sleep can be paramount to coping well within difficult situations, and each day is going to bring something different. I planned for chaos, and stuck to my sleep schedule as best I could, and it made such a difference.

6. Asking for help. Reaching out only improved my situation. I had to call on my close friends and family members to help me cope and manage added responsibilities. It was a huge relief.

7. Talking to a therapist. My therapist helped me stay on track and reminded me that I needed to cut myself slack during that challenging situation. It also was really nice to have someone outside the situation to talk to about my struggles with the event.

It can be difficult to balance, and extra stress can cause all kinds of problems with your mind and body, poor judgment, to depression and irritability.

But don’t worry! You will get through this. With mindful planning, it’s possible to survive traumatic events without losing your entire ability to cope.

This article appeared on www.bhope.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie McKinnon

Melanie McKinnon is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She’s a blogger for The Huffington Post and has written for several notable websites, such as Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and The Mighty. Diagnosed with Type I Bipolar Disorder in July of 2015, she spends her time balancing her moods and responsibilities at work, as a writer and barre fitness instructor, and at home, with her spouse and three children. Her favorite things include meditation, Diet Pepsi, Arizona, and football. Through her writing, she hopes to encourage and inspire anyone fighting a daily battle. Read more from Melanie on her blog: MelanieMeditates.com.