Management Articles


Burnout: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

By: Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  Visit her on the web at and for FREE ezine.

Studies show that people with high EQ (emotional intelligence) are less likely to burn out. Managing our emotions and those of others, and how we react and respond, are crucial to our stress levels, resilience and ability to cope.

The prevention, cause and cure of burnout are all related to emotional intelligence. Working with an EQ coach to strengthen such skills as flexibility, intuition, resilience and personal power will make each minute of each day easier, and the effects are cumulative. Most of us would agree it's "the little things" that get to us and wear us down.

Also being flexible; remember, it’s the branch that bends that doesn’t break!

Burnout comes from not pacing yourself and your emotions, and not managing your reactions to people and projects. We're built to work, and run and play; we're really quite hardy. But what our emotions push or pull us through can be very wearing.

Think of a task you love to do, where you settle into the chore -- chopping wood, baking a pie, writing a book – and you look up 5 hours later wondering where the time went. Maybe you’re a little physically tired, but you’re happy in your heart and soul. The closer you get to “flow” like that, the less stress you experience, and you can learn this competency.

Low Personal Power also contributes to burnout. The opposite of Personal Power is "feeling helpless and hopeless.” This is the “victim” mentality, and makes you vulnerable to every passing thing. You learned somewhere along the line to think “helpless and hopeless,” and you can start learning, tomorrow, how to reclaim your Personal Power and greatly lessen your stress.

Resilience can prevent burnout. Resilience means weathering the ups and down, rejections, losses and disappointments, and being able to bounce back. Resilient people know how to start and stop, how to work alone and in a team, how to focus and be creative, how to think divergently and convergently.

If you have only one mode, only one style, only one way of dealing with things, it's like applying the same single piston over and over. When you've worked on your emotional intelligence, you can move around in the "engine" and use others parts, greatly extending the wear and tear and lifetime of the engine -- which is the all-important you!. Just imagine how good that would feel!

One of the first keys to burnout is not being able to get a good night's sleep. Let that be your warning signal to get help and make some changes.

Few things can help with all areas of your life as much as improving your emotional intelligence. You've gotten your degree, your credentials, you work out and look your best, you get your physicals, take your vitamins and get massages, now top it off by finding out what emotional intelligence is and increasing yours. You’ll be far less likely to burn out.

© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2003

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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