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Research shows that people suffering from emotional exhaustion experience higher levels of work-life conflict. They may find that they have less patience to engage with family and friends at the end of the day and become frustrated with them more easily — a problem that is exacerbated by the current Covid crisis. Learn what factors tend to drain them and experiment with ways to reduce the strain.
Think about what values and qualities drive you and practice being centered and present for short periods of time to create more experiences of joy and connection. Emotional exhaustion lies at the heart of burnout. As your emotional resources are used up in trying to cope with challenging situations — such as overwhelming demands, conflict, or lack of support at work or at home — your sense of well-being and capacity to care for yourself and others is diminished.
In fact, research shows that people suffering from emotional exhaustion experience higher levels of work-life conflict. They may find that they have less patience to engage with family and friends at the end of the day and become frustrated with them more easily — a problem that is exacerbated by the current Covid crisis, not only for those toiling away on the front lines but also working from home, while balancing personal responsibilities with no outside help. This can lead us to feelings of guilt and loss. Take my coaching client, Evelyn.
While she feels lucky to be financially stable for the time being, work remains an emotional struggle. The unsettling prospect of having to leave a job she once loved to protect her happiness is heightened by her status as the primary earner in her family and the contracting job market.
The weight of these circumstances has left Evelyn emotionally exhausted. Prior to the lockdown, Jack took care of the children while Evelyn was at the office. At the same time, her mind churns with anxiety about her job. She feels unable to shake her growing sense of dread and feels like a less joyful person than she used to be.
On her worst days, she barely recognizes herself. Pushing back against emotional exhaustion requires a combination of three approaches: reducing the drain on your emotional resources, learning to conserve them, and regularly replenishing them.
Imagine that you have an internal fuel tank and a gauge on your dashboard that lets you know how full it is. Some conditions cause your fuel to burn up quickly, just as extreme weather, rough terrain, carrying a heavy load, or accelerating and braking rapidly would use gas at a greater rate than normal on-the-road scenarios.
The first step in reducing emotional resource consumption is recognizing the circumstances e. Turning back to the case of Evelyn, there is not much she can do to change or avoid the shifting cultural dynamics at work in the wake of the acquisition or the additional stressors created by the pandemic and recession. But she has realized that engaging in doomsday conversations with a particularly negative colleague heightens her anxiety, so Evelyn is no longer indulging in these exchanges. The next step is learning to operate with greater emotional efficiency with emotion regulation techniques, such as recognizing and acknowledging your feelings and reappraising stressful experiences.
Evelyn uses two strategies to reframe what she experiences and how she thinks about it to conserve her emotional resources. The first is stepping outside of her own perspective and considering the larger context of her situation. When she remembers that she is one of many people going through such turmoil, it feels less personal. The second strategy is staying connected to her core values and using them to navigate difficult situations.
Evelyn cares deeply about being honest and reliable. In coaching, we helped her find tangible anchors for these values by reflecting on what comes to mind when she thinks about the words honesty and reliability.
She settled on an antique clock on her shelf — a gift from her beloved father — that still keeps perfect time. For her, it represents honesty and reliability. Whenever she looks at the clock, she renews her connection to these values and feels more capable of showing up as a positive and supportive leader her team can rely on. The other critical strategy for preventing emotional exhaustion is making sure that you refuel. To overcome her fears about potentially having to find a new job, Evelyn is reaching out and renewing connections with people in her network.
Through these conversations, she feels a stronger sense of belonging to her professional community, gathers valuable information about options available to her, and feels validated as a person who has much to offer.
As a result, she feels much more hopeful. Doing so promotes relaxation, psychological detachment from work, and feelings of control and mastery. But you must. Evelyn and her family came up with a creative ritual for joyfully reconnecting with one another. Research shows that people who do this at work experience lower levels of emotional exhaustion. But they will increase your resilience and resistance to emotional exhaustion.
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You are reading your last free article for this month. Subscribe for unlimited access. Managing yourself. Tips for protecting, conserving, and replenishing your energy. on Managing yourself or related topics Psychology and Work-life balance. Monique Valcour is an executive coach, keynote speaker, and management professor. She helps clients create and sustain fulfilling and high-performance jobs, careers, workplaces, and lives. Follow her on Twitter moniquevalcour.
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