And another thing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, juggling too many things, and resilience is low just one more thing can tip the balance.
I compare the situation to a kettle on the boil.
When a kettle is placed on a stove, it starts with a calm and cool interior. As the heat is applied, the water inside begins to warm up gradually. Pressure starts to build up.
As the kettle heats up, you can hear a gradual increase in the intensity of the boiling sound. Before the kettle reaches boiling point, the lid might rattle, and steam is released, like a pressure valve. As more heat and pressure builds up the kettle reaches boiling point.
We might start out calm and cool, for example in a new role or after a holiday but gradually the pressure can build up. We often don’t even notice the building pressure. As more things get added to the list it’s easy to start to feel increasingly overwhelmed.
Boiling point is when we can no longer cope with the stressors. It’s burn out.
You’ve probably got your ‘go to’ things for letting off steam, things like going for a run, walk or swim. Maybe you meditate, play music or video games, talk with friends or have a pint with some mates.
And unlike the kettle we need to do these things regularly to let off steam, so we don’t reach boiling point.
In a session I ran recently, I called it ‘And another thing…’ It was basically a confidential space for the other person to let off steam – get it all out. When we thought that everything was out, that there were no other factors contributing to the overwhelm, the challenge was to say ‘And another thing…’ and list something else, to keep releasing pressure and let all the steam out.
‘And another thing’ can be really small. On its own it’s manageable, but little things can add up quickly. It’s often the build-up of the little things that go unnoticed and before you know it you’re approaching boiling point.
What are the things you do to let off steam? I’m interested to learn. And how do you make sure you do them regularly, not just when you’re approaching, or worse, at boiling point? Feel free to write in the comments, drop me an email or book a time to talk.