During a Q and A session with co-President Jason Crawford at our company retreat, a team member asked about avoiding burnout at work and how we seek to avoid it.  

The immediate thought and answer that jumped to mind related to the way we view “stress.”  While stress can be used in lots of different ways, the Google Ngram Viewer on the word is fascinating.  The word “stress” is used 8 times as frequently today as in 1880 and the word “stressed” hardly appears until 1920 and absolutely balloons around 1980. 

The way we view stress is REALLY important.  Lately, I’ve been hearing the word stress so frequently, that I’ve wondered to myself, “what would happen if we exchanged the word “stress” for “stretch?” 

“I’m really stressed,” becomes “I’m really stretched?”  Here’s the reality; the things that stressed (or stretched) us long ago, often don’t even register on our stress meters later.

Think about how a child moves from addition to subtraction to multiplication to division and beyond.  Or a Project Manager completing their first project.  Even a new parent learning how to navigate feeding and caring for a child.  

For most people, these situations or seasons would be quickly placed in the “stressful” category.  While everyone approaches and manages stress a bit differently, we do have a powerful ability to flip the way we look at stressful situations on their heads.  

What if I’m being stretched?  What if I’m just doing something I’ve not done before?  How ridiculous would it be for a child learning to walk to carry stress about not yet being able to walk?  

3 Powerful Ways of Avoiding Burnout That Pave the Pathway for a Healthier Day to Day Life:  

1. Exchange “I am stressed” for “I am being stretched.” 

Sure there are some situations and relationships that can’t be “grown through”. They’re just flat messy and in those cases, #2 is a powerful antidote.  

2. Be kind to yourself. 

Whether you’ve never done it before or the person/situation on the other side is an endless wild card, it’s a great opportunity to say “I’ve never seen this before and I’m going to do my best to learn how to navigate this.”  

3. Ask for help. 

This isn’t a time for “hero” ball.  Help could come in one of three ways: 

a) reducing the load – either shifting projects to someone else or eliminating tasks that are no longer necessary   

b) increasing efficiency – working with a co-worker, mentor or coach to see if there are more efficient ways to get from a to b

c) prioritize and batch – consider ways to simplify internally and externally

Regardless of which seem worthwhile or ridiculous, the biggest step is to ask for help.  Discuss with your manager or coworkers that you feel like you’re being stretched to a degree that it’s not healthy or sustainable.  You’ll be surprised at how helpful most people will be in providing relief through processing and ultimately finding ways to address the issue.  

What are some other ways that are helpful for you in managing stress?  Comment below!  

Cheers to being stretched so that we can grow into the season ahead!

Josh Block

Josh Block

Josh Block is a Michigan native, husband, father of two, speaker, company president, and leadership advocate. He believes that healthy leaders, thriving teams and fulfilling work carry remarkable power to transform people and families.

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