Why work can make you sick
Our current working and living world demands a lot from us. Technology is not always supportive, but also makes many of us drifting.
Become Curriculum vitae Miriam Meckle reads, which is not surprising that she suffered from burnout: first a journalist, 1999 in recent chair holder of Germany, 2001 State Secretary and government spokeswoman of North Rhine-Westphalia, later Professorin and director at the Institute for Media and Communication Management of the University of St. Gallen and editor-in-chief of Wirtschaftswoche.
Burnout - not just for celebrities
But burnout attacks not only particularly successful celebrities: According to German health insurance companies, every second employee in our country is threatened by burnout. Burnout is a process that lasts for weeks and months, sometimes for years, and is triggered by long-term stress. Lone mothers with multiple burdens, self-employed without the ability to delegate, or housewives who manage family, household, children, and possibly the care of their parents, are likely to be at least as threatened as successful managers or celebrities like Miriam Meckel. Burnout hits the hard-working. Those who burn for what they do. Because, only those who have burned, can burn out.
One factor that has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, however, is the overburdened nature of modern technology and the feeling of being constantly on call around the clock. Here's one more eMail, there is still a tweet, as an SMS. You always have the feeling that you have to answer and communicate. And the boundaries between work and private life are becoming more and more blurred.
Overburdened by the modern technology?
For example, shortly before she developed burnout and had to go to treatment, Meckel had known in her book “The Happiness of Unreachability” that she was overwhelmed by modern technology. In it, Meckel shows herself as a slave of her Blackberry, who constantly forces her to communicate, does not give her time to take necessary breaks, and also penetrates every situation, however private. On page 139 of her book, she aptly describes where the journey is going:
Step by step, neo-nomads become the normal case in our working and living environment. Work is increasingly 'virtualised', keyword conference call. We can take everything we need to work with us wherever we go. On the one hand, this makes mobility easier and, for example, allows you to drive home on Thursdays or to the office on Tuesdays. On the other hand, it meant that private life does not begin at home, but that work continues under different circumstances and in a different environment.
Burnout - just the logical consequence of social development?
But is burnout really the logical consequence of a social development in which only the ball stays, who is constantly available and can react as quickly as possible? That sounds scary logical - and yet it is the wrong conclusion. For it is not our technical development or other people who are responsible for our excessive demands, but we ourselves alone. And only we can do something about it.
But reading Meckel's book always makes it clear that the real problem is not the technique, but above all our way of dealing with it: Simply put, the basic dilemma is our desire for love, social recognition and success.
From Narcissus to Goldmund?
Sarina Pfauth has Meckels problem in the Süddeutschen Newspaper aptly analyzed:
How can anyone even retire after a burn-out, if he has lived in such a rush of speed before? ... Does such a person disappear into the apparent insignificance of a petty-bourgeois life? No. Will Goldmund no longer be Narcissus? No.
Burnout for fear of being unpopular?
And Meckel herself admits this in a Spiegel interview, which she later gave after her burnout - and after the publication of another book on the subject - herself:
A burnout is also the result of the fact that you constantly swallow everything and do not want to hurt anyone, that you constantly allow others to intervene in one.
How can you avoid burnout? 8 tips
Conversely, this means that we can do something ourselves so that burnout does not even occur. These 8 tips are amazingly simple:
- To do sports: Movement stimulates the blood circulation of the brain, so that more synapses form, as a study by the Sport University Cologne shows. Design your workplace so that you have to get up again and again to achieve certain things, because every movement reduces stress!
- No chance for Aufschiberitis: Also get rid of unpleasant tasks or conversations quickly and reward yourself for it. Otherwise, the displeasure with one's own behavior grows every hour.
- Say no and delegate: Give one or the other task to employees, even if you think you can do even better. Even if you may have to explain more at the beginning.
- Make the working mountains smaller: You feel stressed when your thoughts always revolve around what still has to be done. Keep your thoughts on the task you are currently working on. Work through all tasks as if they were pearls on a chain and focus your attention exclusively on the current “pearl”.
- Have a break: Small breaks in between, in which one breathes deeply at the window, work wonders for relaxation.
- Set priorities: Prioritize and divide your tasks into essential, important and trivial. And learn to say no to both others and yourself - throw trivial tasks in the filing “P”.
- Move the lever: Try to make it a habit to switch: For example, when you leave the job, cross a virtual line. Once you have passed this, the work and all thoughts on it are ticked off - until you pass the line next time. So you leave the “old” field behind when you switch to a different environment.
- Sex instead of work: An investigation by the University of Göttingen has shown that about one in three men with an unsatisfying love life in work falls into work. This leaves the sex frustration forgotten, but creates for itself a lot of stress, which in turn has a negative impact on the partnership. Break through this devil circle, dedicate yourself to your relationship!
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German edition: ISBN 9783965960305
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