Going to the well understanding & preventing burn out


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Creativity is the energy of change, and anyone can enlarge and enhance their capacity to tap into this energy through learning about how it works and engaging in creative experiences. This is essential information for all of us now, living at this time when the speed of life is accelerating and the pace of change a source of significant psychological stress. Uncertainty and instability are part of the price we pay for revolutionary new technologies that continue to transform the landscape of our lives, through redesigning the way we do business, connect and communicate. In light of the stresses we face it is more important than ever to understand the process of burn-out so that we can prevent it. The good news is that the creative process is a way of engaging with the tensions of the unknown and shaping our attitudes and habits of mind in ways that make us more effective, empowered and energized.

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Going to the well understanding & preventing burn out

  1. 1. Going To The Well: Understanding & Preventing Burn-Out www.lifestage.org
  2. 2. Objectives • Discuss the creation and implementation of a role and the process that leads to burn-out; • Define and explain the process of burn-out; • Provide information about evidence-based practices that can prevent or reverse the process that leads to burn-out;
  3. 3. “My candle burns at both ends/ it will not last the night.” Edna St. Vincent Millay Burnout is a condition that affects us physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
  4. 4. The Speed of Life “Technology is evolving at roughly 10 million times the speed of natural evolution. For all its glitz and swagger, technology and the whole interactive, revved-up economy that goes with it, is merely an outer casing for our inner selves. And these inner selves, these primate souls of ours with their ancient social ways, change slowly. Or not at all.” Brian Arthur, “How Fast Is Technology Evolving?” Scientific American (February 1997): 107.
  5. 5. The pace of change influences our thoughts, feelings and sense of self “Today's technological evolution no longer solely affects what we are doing, but also who we are,” Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum.
  6. 6. The pace of change demands continuous adaptation “Just as technology changes beyond all recognition in the space of a single life-time, so too do family structures, social life, education, sexual behavior and everything else. What is at stake in the breakneck speed of social change is too important simply to leave it to wash over us like a tide about which we can do nothing. We need to understand how it works, where it is taking us, and what we can do to alter its direction when necessary.” Richard Wilkinson, “Linking Social Structure and Individual Vulnerability,” Journal of Community Work and Development 5.33 (2004): 38.
  7. 7. The “well” of human creativity is a renewable resource The uncertainty and tension generated by the rapidly accelerating pace of change are also core aspects of the creative process. With the right mind and skill set, we can engage with the tensions in creative ways that express our values, passions, and competence.
  8. 8. Engagement is the antidote to burnout. Creative engagement with aspects of life that connect with a sense of our significance.
  9. 9. Burn-Out: When energy demands exceed energy resources “Burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.” Christina Maslach et al, Job Burnout, Annual Review of Psychology, Feb. 2001 Vol. 52: 397-422 “Job burnout is a response to work stress that leaves you feeling powerless, hopeless, fatigued, drained, and frustrated.” Christopher Gergen & Gregg Vanourek, “Three Ways To Beat Burn-Out” Harvard Business Review, Dec. 1, 2008
  10. 10. Burn-out is a psychological, physical, stress-related health concern • “Nearly two-thirds of ailments seen in doctors’ offices are commonly thought to be stress induced; • Surveys indicate that 60 percent of Americans feel they are under a great deal of stress at least once a week. Costs due to stress from absenteeism, medical expenses, and lost productivity are estimated at $300 billion annually.” “Brain Facts: A Primer On The Brain and Nervous System,” Society For Neuroscience, (Washington, D.C. 2005): 29 www.sfn.org, accessed 8/21/10.
  11. 11. Psychological and emotional stress that leads to burn-out has a serious impact health effects Burnout is a stronger predictor of coronary heart disease than many other classical risk factors, including smoking, blood lipid levels, and physical activity. S. Toker, et al, “Burnout and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Prospective Study of 8838 Employees” Psychosomatic Medicine, 2012; 74 (8): 840
  12. 12. Personal perception of being under stress is linked to heart disease risk High stress increases the risk of heart disease at a rate equivalent to a 50 mg/dL increase in LDL cholesterol, a 2.7/1.4 mmHg increase in blood pressure or smoking five more cigarettes per day." Safiya Richardson, Jonathan A. Shaffer, Louise Falzon, David Krupka, Karina W. Davidson, Donald Edmondson. Meta-Analysis of Perceived Stress and Its Association With Incident Coronary Heart Disease. The American Journal of Cardiology, 2012; 110 (12): 1711 The individual variation in responding to stress is somewhat dependent on a person’s perception of external events. This perception ultimately shapes our internal physiological response.
  13. 13. The perception that we have some power over our response to events lowers stress levels By controlling our perception of events – and engaging with our creative capacity to change the way we think - we can do much to avoid the harmful consequences of role strain and role stress. Safiya Richardson, Jonathan A. Shaffer, Louise Falzon, David Krupka, Karina W. Davidson, Donald Edmondson. MetaAnalysis of Perceived Stress and Its Association With Incident Coronary Heart Disease. The American Journal of Cardiology, 2012; 110 (12): 1711
  14. 14. The process of burn-out is related to the creation and implementation of roles we take in life Anything we want to change about our lives involves the creative process. To acquire a healthy habit, learn a new role or get better at an existing one, calls for imagination to see inwardly and for creative energy to act in new ways.
  15. 15. Roles are expressions of creative energy A role is self-renewing when we are able to implement and perform it in ways that feel rewarding, engaging, expansive and meaningful.
  16. 16. Role Conflict When multiple roles with contradictory expectations collide
  17. 17. Role Fatigue The energy expended to perform the role at desired levels begins to exceed rewards or the perception of value; Photo by FionaMeng www.fionameng. deviantart
  18. 18. Role Strain Performance of the role is diminished because of ongoing imbalance between energy expended and energy received;
  19. 19. Symptoms of Role Strain • Energy imbalance develops into a general sense of low self-worth and questioning one’s competence; • Discounting past accomplishments, difficulty seeing one’s value in the past and present; • Distancing from emotional engagement with work and work partners; • Deepening sense of vulnerability and uncertainty;
  20. 20. Role Stress All available energy is required just to “tread water” in the role – the perceived reward for continuing to engage is diminished or gone.
  21. 21. Symptoms of Role Stress • Emotional armoring; • Worry and fear leading to irritability and anger; • Negativity and pessimism; • Defensive coping, e.g. suspiciousness and mistrust in the face of new information or change; a “what’s the use, why bother?” script in response to new ideas;
  22. 22. Burn-Out There is no energy to fuel performance of the role; Feelings of demoralization, emptiness and disengagement with regard to the role.
  23. 23. The need for renewal can be expressed in a variety of ways • Physical Symptoms - physical exhaustion, Sleeping difficulties, Somatic problems • Emotional Symptoms - irritability, anxiety, depression, guilt, and a sense of helplessness • Behavioral Symptoms - Aggression, Callousness, Pessimism, Defensiveness, Cynicism, Avoidance. Substance abuse • Work-Related Symptoms - Poor work performance, Boundary problems, Absenteeism, Tardiness, Risk-taking • Interpersonal Symptoms - Perfunctory communication, Difficulty focusing, Social withdrawal, Lack of a sense of humor, Dehumanization
  24. 24. Internal states combined with external circumstances are factors in the burn-out process Over-commitment , e.g., difficulty saying no, setting boundaries, or being realistic about what is possible to achieve; Perfectionism ; Difficulty working out interpersonal conflicts; Resource issues – cutbacks or changes in available resources; Being dominated or micro-managed; Difficulty delegating or asking for help; Self-criticism or excessive, unfair criticism from others; Work has diminished connection to one’s passion or purpose; Too much change in a short period of time; Work no longer contributes to one’s sense of significance; A need for structural or procedural change that does not come;
  25. 25. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein “
  26. 26. What leads to new insights & discovery also recharges creative energy for renewal – it is most accessible to us when we break up our routine. "Only when the brain is confronted with stimuli that it has not encountered before does it start to reorganize perception. The surest way to provoke the imagination, then, is to seek out environments you have no experience with, e.g. chemist Kary Mullis landed on the principle of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, not in a lab but on a northern California highway.” Gregory Burns, Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How To Think Differently Harvard Business Review Press, 2010
  27. 27. For effective renewal: its not how long, its how well we relax and recharge “The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.” Tony Schwartz, “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive” New York Times, Feb. 9, 2013
  28. 28. “In physical training, muscle strength grows during periods of rest and renewal” The same principles that apply to athletic performance also hold true for business and work performance. It is in periods of sleep and downtime that our minds recharge. The key is to have the biggest waves between activity and rest.“ Tony Schwartz, “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive” New York Times, Feb. 9, 2013
  29. 29. The US Marines report remarkable results from training soldiers in mindfulness meditation. After 8 weeks of meditating 15-minutes/ day, the soldiers reported: greater capacity to deal with anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia; to stay calm and focused in the thick of battle, while improving overall mental and physical fitness. Danny Penman, “Mindfulness: Finding Peace In A Frantic World” www.franticworld.com
  30. 30. Writing For Your Life One study found that writers who focused on cognitions and emotions about stressful events developed a greater awareness of the positive benefits of the stressful event than the control groups. This effect was apparently mediated by greater cognitive processing during writing. “Journaling about stressful events: Effects of cognitive processing and emotional expression “ Philip M Ullrich & Susan Lutgendorf, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Vol. 24 No. 3 244-250
  31. 31. Guidelines for expressive writing that can produce cognitive shifts • Use writing to describe bodily awareness of emotions in relationship to events; • Free-writing based on a line from a poem or quote; • Shift between 1st and 3rd person • Use different color ink to express different perspectives or different states of mind that emerge when exploring an issue;
  32. 32. Longer-term health benefits of expressive writing that shifts perception • • • • • • • Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor Improved immune system functions Reduced blood pressure Improved mood/affect Greater psychological well-being Reduced depressive symptoms Fewer post-traumatic symptoms “Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing” Karen Baikie & Kay Wilhelm, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, Vol. 11 No. 5 (2005)
  33. 33. Long-term social and behavioral benefits of expressive writing: • • • • • • Increased engagement at work Quicker re-employment after job loss Improved working memory Improved sporting performance Higher students’ grade point average Altered social and linguistic behaviour “Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing” Karen Baikie & Kay Wilhelm, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, Vol. 11 No. 5 (2005)
  34. 34. Creative pursuits activate the brain chemistry of reward and achievement “We feel rewarded when we create new objects or actions, and since creativity is based on the decisions made by the creator, the reward system kicks in when we are in control and inventing things that we have thought of ourselves. Freedom and ownership are part and parcel of the neurochemistry of the arts.” James Zull, “Arts, Neuroscience and Learning,” New Horizons for Learning (March 2005): para. 10. 20 Nov. 2005 <www.newhorizons.org
  35. 35. “I have a theory that burnout is about resentment” Avoiding burn-out isn’t about getting three square meals or eight hours of sleep. It’s not even necessarily about getting time at home…And you beat it by knowing what it is you’re giving up that makes you resentful. I tell people: find your rhythm. Your rhythm is what matters to you so much that when you miss it you’re resentful of your work. Marissa Mayer, Vice President of local, maps and location services at Google Business Week, April 13, 2012
  36. 36. Know what gives you energy and protect it “You can’t have everything you want, but you can have the things that really matter to you. And thinking that way empowers you to work really hard for a really long period of time.” Marissa Mayer, Vice President of local, maps and location services at Google Business Week April 13, 2012
  37. 37. “Having what matters” replaces “having it all “I hate the phrase "having it all" -- no one has it all, and trying to is the surest way to make yourself feel like a failure. I try to think of it as "having what matters." What matters to me right now are my family and my work. I don't throw huge dinner parties or even go to many, and every plant in my house for the last decade has died. Maybe it'll be different when my kids are older, but keeping focused on the two things I care about helps me not beat myself up for the 17 things I'm not doing at any given moment. Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive , quoted in Arianna Huffington, “Beyond Money and Power (and Stress and Burnout): In Search of a New Definition of Success” Huffington Post 5/29/13
  38. 38. "The important thing to remember is that it isn't about balance, it's about integration,“ Padmasree Warrior, Cisco Systems' Chief Technology and Strategy Officer “Focus on making sure you're integrating all four aspects of your work, your family, your community and the yourself.”
  39. 39. Significance is a renewable psychological resource
  40. 40. Contact Jude Treder-Wolff to discuss an onsite experiential version of this training for your staff, organization or conference 496 Smithtown Bypass Suite 202 Smithtown, NY 11787 www.lifestage.org
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