|A number of factors influence the development of burnout. I have found that the easiest way to understand these factors is to look at the following three areas; ourselves, our work and our life in general. I will list these briefly in this email and unpack them more in future posts.
Our life in general
Sometimes when all these three areas are demanding it creates a “perfect storm” for burnout in which the person has no relief. Without space to relax and recharge the person may find themselves on the road to burnout.
Which one of these areas is causing you the most concern at the moment?
What can you do to more effectively cope with the stresses that you face in this area?
In my consulting work I get asked to speak about burnout. This is partly due to being a psychologist and partly because I went through burnout 8 years ago and since then have spent a lot of time writing and speaking about it. In this series of emails I plan to have a deeper look at the topic of burnout. We will look at what it is like to experience burnout, some of the causes, how a person can recover from burnout, and, most importantly, how to avoid it.
With many occupations experiencing an increase in work intensity (more being expected with less resources), I often come across leaders who are stressed, tired and showing some initial signs of burnout.
Being burnt out is far more than feeling stressed and tired. It is a serious condition that can lead to a person not being able to work. In my case, this meant that I couldn’t work for a year. Although there are many aspects to burnout, the three main ones are1
Depersonalisation and cynicism
A Sense of Inefficacy
It is a very dark place indeed. Burnout involves these three aspects and includes feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, confusion, hopelessness, loneliness, guilt and disillusionment. For some people there can be negative health problems and even some extreme problem behaviours.
It is this unpleasant nature of burnout and the consequences that it can have on the person and their families that make it really important to take seriously and to ensure that we develop and maintain healthy coping strategies.
More on the causes of burnout next time.
1 Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter (2001) Job Burnout. Annual Review of Pscyhology, 52(1) 397-422
|“Never overestimate the strength of the torchbearer’s arm, for even the strongest arms grow weary.”
My mother turned 95 last week and I would like to focus on her in this final email on the topic of ‘being likeable’. Mum continues to be a likeable person. Sadly, many older people are affected by illnesses such as dementia which can have a negative impact on the way that they relate to others.Thankfully, mum has avoided any of these and is really healthy for her age.
The staff at the retirement village where she lives love her, lots of people visit her and she is held in very high regard. What are her secrets to likeability?
She remains positive
She genuinely cares for others
She advocates for the needs of others
She asks questions rather than always talking about herself
She sees her time as an opportunity to help others
She is generous
I guess that as I get older I need to be sure that I will be an older person who others will like and want to be around rather and not someone who they visit reluctantly out of obligation. I must be careful that I don’t become a grumpy old man.
Will you be someone who others will want to visit and spend time with in the retirement home?
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
Likeable people are generally easy to get along with and we feel better after having spent time with them. This does not mean that they never get angry or say things that they later regret; it just means that, in general they aren’t prickly. Prickly people, on the other hand, are difficult to be around and we generally feel worse after having spent time with them. Here are some characteristics of prickly people.
Prickly people are defensive and suspicious
Prickly people are hurtful with their words and actions
Prickly people are hard to hug
Attention Prickly People!