can happen if stress gets out of control
Over The Cliff (Part
I ) we discussed:
Part II we shall concentrate on:
section explains what happens during these, and suggests strategies in brief
to avoid or cope with them.
is the gradual process by which a person, in response to prolonged stress and
physical, mental and emotional strain, detaches from work and other meaningful
relationships. The result is lowered productivity, cynicism, confusion...a
feeling of being drained, having nothing more to give.
Burn-Out is said to occur when
highly committed people lose interest and motivation. Typically
it will occur in hard working, hard driven people, who become emotionally,
psychologically or physically exhausted.
Have a look at the
following instances, if you seem to fit into any or most of the
following then beware you have been working too hard and maybe a future
- You forgot to
keep your date with Brooke Shields.
- Again you
couldn't say no to your boss when he handed 6 extra files for the week
- Forgetting your
marriage anniversary was nothing new, but this time round the block you
forgot your own Birth Day and no body bothered to remind (wish) you.
- Cant remember
the last vacation you went on.
- You and the PC
have become one.
- You think 'Bajpay'
is some new type of pie.
- You lose your
nights sleep worrying when you delegate work to your colleagues.
- Its become
impossible to last the day without 5 cups of coffee.
- You got lost on
the way home last night.
- You regularly
say hallo to the night watchman.
- Your sweetheart
cant remember when she last heard the three magic words from you. I love
Did you identify
yourself, if not well and good, if yes time to slow down buddy.
burn-out will manifest itself in a reduction in motivation, volume and quality
of performance, or in dissatisfaction with or departure from activity
doesn't occur in a single day, it will normally occur slowly, over a long
period of time giving adequate warning and time to take evasive action. It may
express itself physically or mentally.
of burn-out are shown below:
growing tendency to think negatively
incorrect belief that you are accomplishing less
feeling of lack of control over commitments
of a sense of purpose and energy
detachment from relationships. This may cause further conflict and stress,
adding to the problem.
This occurs when
you methodically do what you are supposed to but withdraw emotionally from
what you are doing. In the health care industry this could be characterized by
a nurse who follows correct medical procedures and is cordial with the
patients, but no longer cares about them personally. If you begin to see
others as objects rather than human beings, beware, you may be on the burnout
you working very hard, then you should take great care not to burn-out. Those
in helping professions or positions that have significant inter personal
contact are more susceptible e.g. customer service departments, health care
can avoid mental burn-out by ensuring that what you do remains fun: there is a
limit to your mental energy that you should respect. One of the first
thing that you should do is decrease the pressure on your self by slowing down
your sense of time. Try out the following:
not work in front of the clock: When you have a clock staring at you or
over you shoulder, your perception of time is that it goes by quickly.
Hide the clock and work at your own pace. You will accomplish more in less
time than if you monitor yourself. Of course, you still have to keep loose
track of the time, cause have it form the horses mouth your wife wont like
it if she has to wait for an hour with the entire weeks grocery at the
not set unrealistic time frames: When you foresee a particular assignment
to be an hour long it might take up two. Examine the contingencies and
allow enough time. After estimating the time it will take to do something,
multiply that by 1.5 and you will have a more realistic time frame.
- Avoid working
under deadline pressure: Any time you face a deadline, time will seem to
run faster. In some cases you can't do anything about them. Try to arrange
time so that you don't face them as often and you will gain a greater
sense of control over your time.
- Get the required
equipment: Do not grudge invest in equipment which will help you attain
your goals quickly and easily. Get a Pentium III if your 486 drives you
crazy while launching your word processor. Very soon you will discover
that the money that you spent has got you greater returns as higher
productivity lower stress levels and peace of mind. Make these investments
intelligently and don't add to your stress by indulging in champagne
taste in beer budget.
you get better at what you do, people may want increasing amounts of your
time, and will rely on you more and more. It is easy for commitments to get
bigger: people tend to be quite happy to consume other peoples mental
resources without worrying about the consequences. You must learn to say 'No'
to commitments that you do not want to take on - otherwise you will be in
severe danger of burning out. The next time your boss dumps some more
responsibilities try one of the following:
- "Do you
think that with my current commitments I can do this new project
appreciate your confidence in me, but my other responsibilities would
prevent me from doing an excellent job."
- "I'd be
happy to handle this assignment for you, but realistically I cant do it
without neglecting the file that you handed me yesterday. Of tasks y and z which would you like me to do? Which can I put aside."
- "Of course
I can do this for you but currently I have x, y and z lined
up in queue. Will it be okay if I get back to you sometime next week or
will that be too long a wait for a file as important as this."
What ever you say
or do, do it with great tact and professionalism. All the while stay as
flexible as possible and be humble and true in your statements. Your boss will
appreciate it and your relation will improve resulting in a lower stressed
you are in Danger of Burning Out...
you feel that you are in danger of burning out, or are not enjoying what you
do, the following points can help you correct the situation:
your goals and prioritise them
the demands placed on you and see how they fit in with your goals
your ability to comfortably meet these demands.
you are over-involved, reduce the commitments that are excessive
people demand too much emotional energy, become more unapproachable and
less sympathetic. Involve other people in a supportive role. You owe it to
yourself to avoid being bled dry emotionally.
stress management skills
other areas in your life that are generating stress, such as work or
family, and try to solve problems and reduce the stress
the support of your friends and family in reducing stress
that you are following a healthy lifestyle:
adequate sleep and rest to maintain your energy levels
that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet - bad diet can make you
ill or feel bad.
adequate regular aerobic exercise
your caffeine and alcohol intake
develop alternative activities such as a relaxing hobby to take your mind
your own humanity: remember that you have a right to pleasure and a right
Stages of Burn-Out
you are in late stages of burn-out, feeling deeply demotivated and
disenchanted with your job or life, get help from a good psychologist.
You Have Burned Out...
you are so demotivated that for a time you do not want to continue with what
you do, then take some time off. Alternatively try to switch to another area
of activity within your organization. If you come back later, you may find
that you start to enjoy work again, and can take on only those commitments
that you want.
may, however, find that you have absolutely no interest in continuing with
what you are doing. In this case it may be best to drop it altogether. If you
are the sort of person who has burned out, i.e. highly motivated and hard
driving, then a complete change of direction may be appropriate. It is very
likely that you will find another area in which you will excel. You will
discover that you are only demotivated and listless in the area in which you
have burned out.
difference is that you will have already burned out once: next time you now
know the signs to look for and the things to watch. Providing that you learn
these lessons you will be able to pace yourself, and control your energy much
more effectively. This will help you to control stress so that you operate at
stress levels where you can give your optimum performance.
an individual has been under sustained stress for a long period of time, has
suffered serious life crises, or has reached a stage of exhaustion and
demoralisation, then breakdown may occur.
may show itself physically as a heart attack, angina or a stroke, or may show
as 'nervous' or 'mental' breakdown, where the sufferer becomes mentally ill.
In the latter case symptoms may not be seen by the individual, but may be
obvious to partners, friends and colleagues.
sounds sudden and dramatic - in the case of physical breakdown it may be.
Mental breakdown, however, may be slow in onset, and may be mild or severe.
The boundary between prolonged unhappiness or exhaustion and breakdown is
blurred - one definition of breakdown may be that the sufferer finally carries
out some act that makes it impossible to continue functioning normally in
of nervous breakdown may be:
uncontrollable, irrational behaviour
and excessive anxiety
activity - persistent performance of an irrational activity, or of a
normal activity to an irrational degree
depression - depression interspersed with periods of euphoria
and self-destructive behaviour:
up a good job
up good relationships
dependent on drugs
breakdown appears to be underway, seek professional help immediately.
Next Up: Action