The stress-vulnerability model is often used to understand the causes of mental health issues and burn-out.
As you can guess, two dimensions are involved: “Vulnerability” refers to our basic sensitivities and is determined by our genetics as well as life experiences. “Stressors” refers to the situations or challenges faced in our lives.
Many employers are focusing more time and money on preventing negative stress instead of treating already burnt out co-workers. Great for the individual and the bottom line!
However stress prevention is often focused on the situational stressors, such as workload with very little attention given to understanding individual vulnerabilities.
A study from 2019 published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research found that ambition or “being passionate about doing well” is a strong vulnerability factor for burn-out. Key themes for situational stressors were “teamwork,” “manager,” and “work and personal circumstances.”
In summary the study shows that a discrepancy between individual vulnerability (ambition) and situational stressors can lead to burn-out. Therefore, burnout prevention needs to target the individual’s vulnerabilities as well.
Through my own Achievement Detox and coaching of high performers, I have learnt a couple of things when it comes to ambition and burn-out:
- Like any overused strengths your ambition or achievement superpower can damage your health, relationships and even your results.
- Learning to control your need to achieve does not mean turning your ambition off, you’re simply using it in a smarter way
- By taking your achiever hat off once in a while and letting other unique personality traits such as your creativity or kindness shine, you become a more interesting and productive person.
Do you or your team want to work smarter to prevent burn-out? Book a webinar, workshop, or coaching session with me.
Source: Vulnerability and Stressors for Burnout, September 2019. The Canadian journal of nursing research