Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Are you the person your colleagues turn to for support or advice? Here are some ways you can take care of yourself while taking care of others.

A "toxic handler" is someone who voluntarily shoulders the feelings of their colleagues, a critical but often difficult job. If that sounds familiar, here are some actions you can take to keep playing your valuable role in a sustainable way.

1 Reduce symptoms of stress: turn to tried and true methods for stress relief such as meditation, exercise, enough sleep and healthful eating.

2 Pick your battles: ask yourself where you’ll have the most impact. Who is likely to be fine without your help? In which situations have you not even made a dent, despite your best efforts?

3 Learn to say no: you can make it clear that you feel for your colleague while telling them you’re not in a position to be most helpful to them right now. Refer them to another person or resources for support.

4 Let go of the guilt: if you’re stepping in repeatedly, you’re not helping people acquire the skills they need to succeed. There is only so much of you to go around.

5 Form a community: find other toxic handlers to turn to for support.

6 Take breaks: consider giving yourself a mental-health day off work or plan a vacation. You could also consider a temporary reassignment of your role.

7 Make a change: if nothing you are doing has resulted in a shift, your best option may be to leave.

8 Consider therapy: a trained psychologist can help you identify burnout, manage your symptoms of stress, learn to say "no" and work through any guilt.

(Adapted from When You’re the Person Your Colleagues Always Vent To at HBR.org.)

Harvard Business Review

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