We often don’t realize that we’re suffering from burnout until it’s too late. Here at 99u, we write a lot about burnout, a serious subject concerning many creative professionals. By Hamza Khan on May 14, 2014
The burnout process has been divided into 12 phases by psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North. In a Scientific American Mind article, the stages are outlined as such:
- The Compulsion to Prove Oneself; demonstrating worth obsessively; tends to hit the best employees, those with enthusiasm who accept responsibility readily.
- Working Harder; an inability to switch off.
- Neglecting Their Needs; erratic sleeping, eating disrupted, lack of social interaction.
- Displacement of Conflicts; problems are dismissed, we may feel threatened, panicky and jittery.
- Revision of Values; values are skewed, friends and family dismissed, hobbies seen as irrelevant, work is only focus.
- Denial of Emerging Problems; intolerance, perceiving collaborators as stupid, lazy, demanding, or undisciplined, social contacts harder; cynicism, aggression; problems are viewed as caused by time pressure and work, not because of life changes.
- Withdrawal; social life small or non-existent, need to feel relief from stress, alcohol/drugs.
- Odd Behavioural Changes; changes in behaviour obvious, friends and family concerned.
- Depersonalization; seeing neither self nor others as valuable, and no longer perceive own needs.
- Inner Emptiness; feeling empty inside and to overcome this, look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs; activities are often exaggerated.
- Depression; feeling lost and unsure, exhausted, future feels bleak and dark.
- Burnout Syndrome; can include total mental and physical collapse; time for full medical attention.
When we push our creativity and productivity to its limits, we can easily find ourselves teetering on brink of burnout. And there’s a fine line between being in the zone and falling down the slippery slope of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Therefore it’s worth occasionally referring back to this list to self-diagnose.