Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On the Couch Again

(Can you hear the Willie Nelson melody behind the title?)

I'm getting a fair amount of things done this week, but for some reason my current default position is sitting or lying on the couch.  In between work and errands and tri training, and the odd swipe at domestic sanitation and rearrangement, that's where you'll find me.  Unless I'm on my backyard swing/couch, or in my hammock/couch, weather permitting.  Much tea is being drunk.  Several books are in the process of being read.  Some phone conversations are being conducted.  And my new computer is too often in my face.  But the mode is definitely sedentary.  Oh, and the wardrobe?  Except when I have to leave the house (all too frequently, in my estimation), suffice it to say that my daytime and nighttime apparel are pretty much indistinguishable.

I'm not sure what that's about.  But I've decided it's not entirely healthy.  I'm getting stiff from lack of movement, despite yoga and almost daily brief but intense workouts.  And my mood goes south after a few hours of this sort of inertia.

My preliminary self-diagnosis is spiritual exhaustion--akin to the burnout we used to read so much about.  

Whatever happened to burnout?  Is it one more thing we can no longer afford in the present economic circumstance? 

According to that incontrovertible source, Wikipedia, burnout is recognized by the ICD-10: International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization, 1994, as "Problems related to life-management difficulty."  And anyone who has read more than a couple of posts here almost certainly knows that I have a few of those.  Problems, that is.  And difficulties.

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have theorized that the burnout process can be divided into 12 phases, which are not necessarily followed sequentially, nor necessarily in any sense. . .exist other than as an abstract construct.

  • A compulsion to prove oneself
  • Working harder
  • Neglecting one's own needs
  • Displacement of conflicts (the person does not realize the root cause of the distress)
  • Revision of values (friends or hobbies are completely dismissed)
  • Denial of emerging problems (cynicism and aggression become apparent)
  • Withdrawal (reducing social contacts to a minimum, becoming walled off; alcohol or other substance abuse may occur)
  • Behavioral changes become obvious to others
  • Depersonalization (life becomes a series of mechanical functions)
  • Inner emptiness
  • Depression
  • Burnout syndrome
Uh-oh!  This is sounding familiar.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about dealing with burnout:

While individuals can cope with the symptoms of burnout, the only way to truly prevent burnout is through a combination of organizational change and education for the individual.  Organizations address these issues through their own management development, but often they engage external consultants to assist them in establishing new policies and practices supporting a healthier worklife. Maslach and Leiter [Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 52: 397-422 (February 2001)] postulated that burnout occurs when there is a disconnect between the organization and the individual with regard to what they called the six areas of work life: workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values. Resolving these discrepancies requires integrated action on the part of both the individual and the organization.
But which of my many organizational contexts is the culprit?  And if, as I suspect, my problems are multi-situational, could the problem be moi?

Maybe a few more days' rest, tempered with a bit more movement, will allow some insight. 

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