Are We Living In A Burnout Society?
We cannot ignore the fact, that life has become much more dynamic and fast-paced than, say, 20 years ago. This is especially true in large urbanized areas, where money seems to rule the world and where status symbols and filled up agendas is a clear expression of success. Many people love this sort of lifestyle, they get sucked into the dynamics of living a luxury lifestyle, in which careers, networking, and lifestyle parties dominate their lives.
Nevertheless, what few people realize is that this lifestyle might frequently lead to a burnout syndrome. The burnout syndrome is a psychological term for the experience of exhaustion and reduced interest. A burnout does not come suddenly, but it is built during years of too hard work and an imbalanced lifestyle. Generally, there are 12 different phases leading to a final burnout, starting with the compulsion to prove oneself, continued with neglecting your own needs, denial of your own problems, withdrawal from society, a feeling of inner emptiness, depression, and finally the burnout. You can read more about the burnout at Wikipedia, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnout_(psychology).
Still, many people believe that a burnout cannot happen to them. The figures, however, speak a different language. Psychologists are already fully booked due to patients experiencing severe depressions and burnouts. The pressure, that one is experiencing in day-to-day life in big cities can become too much under circumstances, and not giving in to this pressure and the fast-paced lifestyle could in the end result in the loss of friends.
The question is, how can we prevent a burnout from happening? This can be quite difficult, since a busy and thrilling lifestyle as well as status symbols is often advocated by employers, colleagues, friends, and family. Nevertheless, I have found that three, important, principles help me in regulating my life and find a time to relax when I most need it.
1. The evening and weekends are mine
When ever I can, I try not to work during the evening or weekend. Sometimes it is inevitable, as I need to get some work done. But I keep this to an absolute minimum. Generally, I consider the evenings and the weekends to be my own private time, and any employer should not be in the position to dictate their employees to give up their free time outside the regular office hours. In some industries, it is difficult to obtain this kind of freedom. Therefore, I have chose not to work in these industries, and to carefully select the employer I am working for.
2. I do not care what others think
It is easy to get sucked into how others think you should lead your life. Often, people live beyond their standards, because they want to belong to a specific social class, or circle of people. However, salary structures have dramatically changed over time, and so have the general living standard. Whereas doctors, for example, were able to lead a luxury and comfortable life years ago, this is not always the case anymore; on the contrary, in many countries doctors are nowadays faced with low honorariums and long working hours.
3. I will keep my agenda half full
Many people have filled up agendas, even in their spare time. I try to keep my agenda as clean and empty in my private time as possible. Certainly there are things I need to plan, such as concerts, birthday parties, and other events. But I try to keep enough spare time for spontaneous undertakings, such as fitness in order to reduce some tension or meeting up with friends. I frankly know very few people with this mindset.
Psychologist have experienced a great increase of patients experiencing a burnout. In a sense, the numbers are alarming, and in a sense today’s society is much more prone to burnouts.
Question to the readers: what are your experiences with burnouts? Do you think we are living in a burnout society, and what can be done about it?