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Volume 1-1

When your emotional center caves in and you have nothing left to give, you are suffering from…

by Andrew S. Linick, Ph.D., The Copyologist®

Ever awaken on a workday morning and find you're unable to get up or go back to sleep? You lie there a few moments trying to remember what woke you. "The agency. I have to go to the office. To heck with it. I'll call in sick. Why can't I get sick like other people do?

One by one, you tick off the important tasks: Getting the sales report ready; account staff brainstorming; hoping you don't have to deal with a specific client today; meeting with that other important client; and finishing the proposal before calling the new prospect.

Besides, if you miss today, the stuff will just pile up. You'll have twice as much to do tomorrow. You throw off the covers and your day has begun.

You seek to splash the lethargy away as you step into the shower, hoping to rediscover your old, vital, energetic, smiling self. But what finally leaves the house is an unsmiling figure—bent, tired, lips and shoulders grimly set to get through the day.

It's not going to be a great day. It'll be irritating. There will be too much work, too many interruptions, too many details, and too few rewards. You may find yourself yelling at your colleagues and even being short with your clients. It'll be a day of fatigue, and at the end of it, the long, dull evening stretches—what is left of it, once you finally leave the office. Just another day flowing into another.

Your family, friends and associates have become flat and stale. Now that you've gotten where you are, you begin to wonder what you've really won—what all the fuss was about.

Does any of this produce a shock of recognition? If you can put yourself in this picture, you may be burned out. Well you wouldn't be alone.

Psychologists have been telling us for years that burnout is common in the workplace—among account executives, graphic designers, and other industry professionals who become so involved in advising others that they don't see some important warning signs.

There are many signs of impending burnout. Simply feeling fatigue does not mean anything. If, however, you find you are suffering from at least three of the following symptoms, you may in the first stages of burnout.

Fatigue. You are aware of a chronic tiredness that never seems to leave you. The things you usually do to get over it just don’t work. You take the weekend off, but still have to drag yourself back to the office on Monday.

Aches and Pains. You may have trouble with lower back pain, or have more headaches, upset stomach. You feel a general stiffness and tightness throughout your body.

Increasing Self-Medication. You find yourself taking more drugs and medicines in an effort to get some relief.

Inability to Make Decisions. You wish you didn’t have to decide anything. Even deciding where to go for lunch seems to be overwhelming. You try to avoid deciding anything—you are immobilized.

Working Harder to Keep Up. Maybe if you push harder, you can catch up and get some relief. Instead, this just makes it worse.

Boredom and Low Motivation. Nothing is happening for you. Your job isn’t fun any more. It seems you are doing the same things over and over and getting nothing from them.

Increased Time Away from the Office. You need more days off. You often find yourself running late for meetings. Maybe you forgot one or two appointments. You are mentally absent—just not plugged in.

Accident Prone. Because you are not aware of your physical surroundings, you bump into chairs and tables or step on your dance partner’s toes more than usual. You may become involved in an automobile accident, or at least have a few near misses.

Lost Your Sense of Humor. Things just don’t seem funny any more. It’s difficult to see humor in situations, especially when it’s about you.

Worry. You find yourself doing an inordinate amount of worrying that something is going to happen. Something is going to happen to your job, your marriage, your health.

Feeling Trapped. You feel more controlled by your work and your family than fulfilled by it. There are too many have-to’s and no time for yourself. It feels like there is nothing you can do about your condition.

Feelings of Failure. Feeling that somehow you have failed yourself, or failed others. You are no longer able to distinguish between failure and a lack of success.

Guilt. Guilt about not spending enough time with your family or on all of the things that have to get done on your job. You aren’t meeting your own expectations. No matter what you choose, you feel guilty.

Declining Self-Image. You don’t like being who you are right now. Not only do you not like what you see on the outside, but also you don’t like what you are on the inside.

Alienation. You don’t like people very much right now, any more than they like you. So you cut off relationships, even those that could sustain you.

Cynicism and Griping. You find yourself doing more and more complaining and grousing to the people about what is happening in your world. You are very negative.

Anger and Resentment. You do more blaming. You lose your cool a little more often. You feel resentful about how life is treating you.

NEXT ISSUE: Testing for Flames
Copyright © 2006, 1987 by Andrew S. Linick, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

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