Whether at work or in your personal life, these tips will help you reboot your connections. [View Image]
Do you ever feel like shipping your loved ones off to relatives or disappearing into a federal witness protection program to get space from co-workers so you have time for yourself? You’re not alone. After the pandemic squeezed us physically and psychologically closer, too much togetherness can plunge us into relationship fatigue—mental and physical exhaustion and depletion of emotional energy brought on by the stress of interacting with and helping others at the expense of taking care of ourselves.
When we interact with colleagues and family members through email and Zoom 24/7 days on end, chances are the things we say and our decisions are different from the ones we make after our brain has a rest period. Why? Relationship fatigue wears out the brain and depletes our mental energy. And it’s more difficult for our strained mind to make even ordinary decisions such as what to wear, where to eat, how much to spend or how to prioritize work projects. Professional and personal responsibilities start to feel like additional demands and obligations that we resent. Relationship fatigue can cause us to shift important interactions to the back burner, bark at others, take shortcuts or opt out of decision making at home and work altogether—possibly jeopardizing job performance and the company’s bottom line.
Signs Of Relationship Fatigue
Studies show healthy collegial relationships produce greater job satisfaction, morale and job performance. Co-workers share work-related information more quickly and more accurately when relationships are collegial, whether with peers, supervisors or subordinates. The better the professional relationships, the better informed people are about workplace issues and the more satisfied they are with their jobs. But relationship fatigue can devolve into bitterness and conflict. Here are the signs:
Foggy Thinking. Trouble concentrating and the ability to think clearly are hallmarks of relationship fatigue. Exhaustion and loss of meaning in your career or in maintaining relationships is common.
Impatience. You lose patience for ordinary mistakes and the ability to work as a team member. You’re moody with a short fuse, and you snap at colleagues and family members. Co-worker job requests start to feel like unreasonable demands.
Self-Centeredness. Stuck in your own perspective, it’s difficult to muster empathy for a co-worker’s point of view. You communicate your feelings as facts, refuse to entertain another perspective and turn a deaf ear to other ideas because you’ve already make up your mind. You force your point of view by commanding, finger pointing or criticizing.
Isolation. Your depleted emotional reserves make it difficult to enjoy the company of others, so you withdraw from colleagues and social situations. Studies show co-workers are happier and their relationships endure when they have fun together, but fun and lightheartedness are out of reach.
Fear. You lose the motivation to stretch outside your comfort zone, resistant to novel experiences, afraid to venture outside predictability. Relationships can be stressful because they require a degree of vulnerability, humility and uncertainty.
10 Steps To Reboot Healthy Collegial Relationships
Chances are you’re not aware you’re having relationship fatigue when you’re working. Perhaps you get swept up in commitments and don’t realize the toll—both mental and physical—an overabundance of job interactions take on you. You can’t fire your boss or take over the company and restructure it, but you can be a better manager of your interpersonal relationships. Here are 10 tips to reboot your mental health when job pressures are crashing down on you:
A Final Word
It’s good economics to think of your professional connections as a bank account and ask yourself, Am I managing these professional investments? Compare your recent deposits with the withdrawals. As with a bank account, relationships require periodic deposits—time, attention, support, understanding, heart-to-heart talks, encouragement even forgiveness—to stay solvent. These deposits offset withdrawals—deadlines, emotional demands, job pressure, criticism, misunderstandings and disagreements—that naturally occur in workplace interactions and can mitigate relationship fatigue.