Guarding Against The Stress Of Success

Recognize the early signs of burnout -- and take proactive steps to prevent it

willing to give up your peace to suit their schedule? Call back when it suits yours.

  • When in doubt, throw it out. E-mail files, paper files, clippings, magazines, and catalogs — they pile up and we panic, thinking, “What if I trash something important?” Just do it. You’ll live to tell.
  • Reach out. There are support groups for every issue. You don’t ever have to be alone. For groups in your area, check with local churches, schools, and town halls or go to
  • Other ways to avoid burn-out and deal with stress:
  • Don’t skip your breaks and vacation days. Use this time to get away from work, whether for a few minutes or a couple of weeks. Spend your work breaks relaxing, meditating, praying, or just laughing with co-workers. And don’t bring work with you on your vacations.
  • Get your rest. Do your best to get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Breathe again. Slow, rhythmic deep breathing — taking air into your belly (diaphragm), not just your chest — is a great way to de-stress. Make a habit of breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Before you overcommit to others, take care of yourself. On airplanes, we are taught to put on our own oxygen masks before assisting others with theirs. If you are exhausted, sick, and stressed, you can’t really be at your best for your family or your job.
  • Take it easy. Make excellence, not perfection, your goal. Redefine success in terms of cooperative effort, not just individual competition. Strive to be effective and productive, but recognize that you cannot control other people and every circumstance.
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