Category Archives: Personal Conflict

Bypass the Burn: 7 Ways to Avoid Burnout

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Ever find yourself barely limping along with what feels like an infinite to-do list stretched out in front of you? Sometimes the end appears like a mirage in the desert, wavering in the distance. You’re approaching something alright, but unfortunately it’s not the finish line. It’s burnout, which is oftentimes unrecognizable by those whom it afflicts until it arrives in the form of depression, loss of motivation, insomnia, alcohol or substance abuse and a host of additional health-related consequences. If you feel like you’re literally teetering on the brink of sanity, a bout with burnout may be in your near future.

Here are 7 ways to avoid burnout:

Morning rituals: Instead of doing the equivalent of jump-starting your brain by rolling over and checking your email or Twitter feed, consider easing into your day with a morning ritual like meditation or sitting at the table with a cup of coffee, or partake in one of these activities that make mornings less sucky.

Take a break: This might sound obvious, but according to a recent Forbes article that states only 25 percent of Americans take their paid vacation, routinely taking breaks is apparently something a large portion of the population struggles to implement into their lives. In a society that’s all #TeamNoSleep #Grindin’ and other ridiculous hashtag lifestyles that promote excessive work over one’s well-being, it’s easy to fall into that trap of constant work. It’s OK to be motivated to reach a goal, but allowing your mind and body to take a break is less of a hindrance to success than having that body and mind break down in the process. Whether you seek respite from the daily grind by taking a weeklong Caribbean cruise or a brisk 15-minute walk around the block, regularly scheduled breaks are essential to avoiding burnout.

Establish and enforce boundaries: Typically, people who are prone to burnout have an issue with setting limits. Before they realize it they’ve committed themselves to 30 hours of work in one day, which obviously spells disaster. To this I say, exploit the power of saying no. Say no to squeezing in that extra assignment, helping a friend on your only off day or just stretching yourself too thin in general. Prioritize by using a list of wants versus needs and talk it over with someone you trust to make sure you stay on track.

 

Read this rest of this article over at ClutchMagOnline.

Image: Dskley/Flickr

A Quote To Live By

 

imperfect blogging day 11Day 11 of the Imperfect Blogging Challenge highlights the importance of quotes. My favorite is:

“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront; you cannot confront what you don’t identify.”

This quote infiltrates my thoughts and actions each and every day. For me, it represents a simple, three-part equation that leads to personal growth. To fully explain what it means to me, allow me to break it down into two parts.

“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront.”

I think about this when I find myself constantly complaining about the same issue or when someone vents to me about something that’s been nagging them forever. Talking through it, around it, and about it is like covering a bullet wound with a band-aid. Much like the bullet, the problem won’t vacate the premises until its located and removed with surgical precision. If not, it is guaranteed to do potentially irreparable damage to whatever surrounds it, be it friends, family, jobs or health. Focusing on the first half of the quote drives home the importance of nipping a problem in the bud before it snowballs out of control.  I’ve been duking it out with some pretty durable self-doubt lately and simply writing about this quote is shedding a little light on how I’ve been breathing life into my ongoing dilemma.

“You cannot confront what you don’t identify.”

How can you resolve an issue if you don’t know what it is? Oftentimes, I annoy myself to no end with over-analyzing, but in the case of identifying the source of an issue, this trait serves me well. It encourages me to dig beneath the surface for more clues. Sometimes this comes in the form of writing down my problem then reading back what I wrote. And as weird as this may sound, lately I’ve begun keeping video diaries. They’re definitely for my eyes only and the probability of them winding up as a YouTube soliloquy is absolutely zero. So while I may cringe at how the camera magnifies that huge zit or how badly my hair needs a trim, watching these videos of myself also increases my self-awareness and sometimes what I thought was a monumental, irreversible issue really isn’t. Continue reading

Are You Addicted to Struggling?

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Growing up, several disappointments caused me to construct a wall around myself to dull the impact of any future letdowns. For a long time, that wall was my Employee of the Year, never calling in sick or sleeping on the job. I programmed myself to believe that happy times were earned by bad experiences and if something good were to happen, then impending disaster waited around the corner for me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. But what I thought was a stealthy source of protection actually dismantled my ability to embrace blessings and happy moments in my life. This may sound insane, but I’ve come to realize that I’m addicted to struggling. Yep, the support group, 12-step program type of addiction.

In December, I finally had my first paid piece published on xoJane and Clutch. Looking through an old list from 2010 reminded me that this goal had been a long time coming. But I barely acknowledged the fact that I accomplished my goal because I was worrying about hypothetical backlash from my family and inconsequential opinions of complete strangers. I couldn’t resist manufacturing a struggle instead of simply enjoying my moment.

Before I quit my 9-5 to pursue writing full-time, I envisioned my last day on the job as a par-tayyyy filled with celebratory Tuaca shots that would leave me doing carpet angels in the middle of my living room floor. Instead, my struggle mentality lured me into stressing over whether I’d be able to make a living writing and wondering to myself how long my husband would  support me before this idealistic “chasing my dream” notion got old. Continue reading

The Benefits of Having an Alter Ego

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Quite often the sheer act of existing feels downright overwhelming. Sometimes I wake up and before my eyes adjust to the morning light, a never-ending to-do list sidles into my mind and sprints off towards a mirage of a finish line. If you ask me, that’s just too much pressure before breakfast. At that point, I want to do nothing more than drift back into a peaceful sleep where deadlines, bills, emotions or any other concern that’s popular amongst the living mean about as much to me as a crack in a sidewalk.

But life beckons, and I eventually roll out of bed, sometimes sliding down the side of it, other times sitting up with an attitude and a curse word forming on my lips. It is then that I realize how badly I need a stunt double. Since Texas is a day’s drive from Hollywood and my house isn’t a movie set, I’ve decided to settle for the next best thing: an alter ego.

Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski. Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines. Eminem has the maniacal Slim Shady. And Lady Gaga has Jo Calderone. Now, I’m not sure what in the hell she needs with an alter ego because she seems to be quite the handful all by herself/selves, but that only confirms that having a little spare personality buddy can’t hurt.  And finally, if Beyoncé has an alter ego on her payroll, then goshdarnit, so can I. I’m far from a member of the Beyhive, but there’s no doubting the benefits that the Sasha Fierce transformation hath wrought upon her life.
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7 Ways Working a 9-5 is Like Being On a Reality Show

This is the one time I wanna be like Kim---no longer a cast member.

This is the one time I wanna be like Kim (pictured in gold)—no longer a cast member.

So today, I’m pissed and totally over the work drama, so let’s skip the fancy intro and get right to it. Here’s a list of seven ways jobs make their employees feel like they’re on the set of a sleazy reality show, only the lighting isn’t flattering and workers aren’t getting the hit singles, paid club appearances, Christian Louboutins and fresh sew-in weaves in exchange for their troubles.

1. Ain’t nobody f*ckin’ with my clique, clique, clique…: Ahhhh, cliques. The delightful dollop of people who consist of a lumpy, co-dependent, shit-talking mass of conjoined humans. They tend to share a brain, so it’s no wonder they don’t take too kindly to outsiders. They routinely convene about when and what to think, and the unfortunate soul who manages to permeate their wall of nasty judgments and constant gossip regrets it immediately and hopefully has the wherewithal to retreat just as quickly, lest they wish to give up their souls to the devil in exchange for the coveted honor of “fitting in.”

2. Bullies: Quite frankly, I don’t buy into the notion that adults can’t be bullied. Just like they appear on each cycle of Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model,” a narcissistic, sociopathic bully seems to be a workplace staple. I’ve dealt with my fair share of them, from an alcoholic, racist judge who thought it was cute to unplug my automatic stapler each time she passed my desk, to other co-workers who took more pride in delivering stare-downs and partaking in feverish whispering sessions than they did in actually working. Just like aggressive playground tyrants and reality show jerks, most of the in-office offenders don’t stop unless their targets knock them flat on their asses, whether in the form of an official complaint or a nice-nasty tongue-lashing. (Full disclosure: Both methods have worked for me.  There are other methods, but…nevermind.) Continue reading

Don’t Pity Me, Fool

                                     I'll pass on the pity.

I’ll pass on the pity.

At this very moment, there’s a voicemail on my phone that I haven’t heard. I know who it’s from and have been hoping the message and its owner will disappear if I continue to ignore them. Why? Because the person who called thrives on doling out pity and I am not here for it.

For the record, this isn’t the average pity. It is of the Incredible Hulk variety, complete with bulging, green muscles and an uncontrollable nature that when unleashed, freely tramples innocent bystanders. In other words, he takes no pity on those he overwhelms with pity.

A conversation with him goes something like this:

Him: “Hey stranger, how have you been?”

Me: “Hey there, I’m good. You?”

Him: “I’m doing great! You sure you’re OK? You sound kinda down.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m fine. Just feeling a little under the weather.”

Him: “Oh nooooo!!! That’s AWFUL! I hate to hear that! Are you sure you’re gonna be OK? If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know. I feel SO bad for you.”

Me: *Silence* Continue reading

Motivated by Shame pt. 1

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Although life taught me early on that procrastination could lead to unfavorable results, the lessons of the past still haven’t kept me from dashing out of my front door with 10 minutes to get to work on time, hairbrush in one hand, breakfast in the other.  It seems that no man, woman, or child can curb my relentless addiction to waiting until the last possible minute to handle my business.  But one dirty little motivator always manages to get me back on track when I least expect it. ‘Tis true that I can be motivated by shame.

Exhibit A (as if anyone needs convincing): My 11th grade government teacher. Mrs. B**** tasked us with creating a presidential campaign slogan and including it on design for a pin. My slogan was a creative play on my first name, but my design left a LOT to be desired. I knew this heading into class that day, as I had struggled to complete the assignment out of sheer laziness and oh–here’s that word again–procrastination. I sheepishly handed in my paper and eased into my seat, prepared for a lecture, but what Mrs. B had in store for me would stick with me for life. Continue reading

My Husband Makes Me Lazy

Since my first job at the age of 16, I’ve always maintained a pretty solid work reputation as someone who excels and is extremely reliable.  At home, on the other hand, I’m ashamed to confess that I suffer from a semi-permanent damsel-in-distress status.  Hours of deep thought went into finding the cause of this phenomenon and I finally found the answer: My husband makes me lazy.

Seriously, he’s to blame. At work, I know the answers. People ask me stuff. But somehow, when I cross that threshold and see him standing there, my brain silently packs its bags and vacates the premises. I suddenly have no clue how to do anything and the tiniest problems plague my empty head until I resort to wailing his name from the opposite end of the house, perfecting the sound of distress like only a wife could. Aside from lifting heavy stuff, killing scary bugs and giving me advice on everyday dilemmas, I’m ashamed to admit these are some of the other things I ask him to help me with:

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Feet, Thou Art Loosed

My feet, buried in the sand:-)

My feet, buried in the sand:-)

Recently, I talked with a 26-year-old woman who didn’t wear sandals until she was 22 because she was embarrassed by her feet, in particular the shape of her big toe.  Thinking about how her hang-up might impact her son who inherited the same unique big toe, she finally shoved an uncovered foot up the butt of her insecurity and wore shoes that exposed her feet.

She didn’t know it, but I was right there with her, battling the constant shame I have of my ugly toes.

For a long time, I refused to show my feet. I would scan the Avon magazines left lying around the office, admiring the models’ flawless, dainty toes. Talking with friends invariably leads to a discussion on physical hang-ups, so I know of quite a few people who say they’d jump at the chance at cosmetic surgery. Mostly everyone mentions nose jobs, boob jobs and tummy tucks, while I keep my desire for a toe replacement to myself. (Is that even an option?) Continue reading

Burpees or Babies?

During a short MegaBus commute between Dallas and Austin today, I listened to a baby’s throaty, gurgling laughter and thought ‘Awww, how cute!’–until an hour and a half (and several frayed nerves) later passed and she was still guffawing. Oh, the joys of babyhood, a time in life in which one finds humor in a freezing cold double-decker bus instead of sharing my annoyance with the lady behind me for mindlessly breaking the silence by screaming into her cell phone in Spanish.

As both the baby and the loud-mouthed lady continued to blabber, I recalled running around the block with my trainer early this morning as we approached a park filled with the sound of excited children.

“Kids,” she muttered, “they scare me.” At the moment, I was trying hard to convince myself that the cramp in my side wasn’t a burst appendix, so all I managed was a breathy, “Yeah.”

Translation: The thought of having kids scares me more than any horror film ever could, for a number of reasons:

What about life?

Work + Marriage + Side Hustle + Friends + Family + Personal Interests + Sleep + Endless List of Other Important Stuff = Where the hail am I supposed to fit a kid in this equation? The answer must be linked to one of those imaginary numbers I heard about in algebra class.

What about what pregnancy/childbirth does to a woman’s bawdy, specifically those who are 30 and up?

Before someone else mentions it, I know Halle Berry just did it (again), but so what?!? Yeah she’s 40+, but she’s been physical perfection for quite some time. I’ve just now become dedicated enough to regular exercising to develop some visible muscle definition and get through several 30-second sets of nonstop burpees without seeing spots. Vain as it is, I’m afraid that if I have a kid, my not-so-youthful body won’t soon recover from the trauma of giving birth. Continue reading