Saturday, January 13, 2007


So, I’ve been told that I’m beginning to exhibit signs of the dreaded “burnout”. No one can define burnout per se, but is an expression bandied around in the development community to describe people who have been in the field too long. Classic symptoms are irritability, inability to concentrate, insensitivity and inability to stop working. I’ve definitely been irritable and working too hard, I hope that I’m not being insensitive. Generally speaking, field workers in Afghanistan should go on R&R every 3 months – otherwise you start risking burnout. UN employees get R&R every 6 weeks. I’ve been here for close to four months, and won’t get a break for another month. This happened for a variety of reasons: lack of money, job insecurity and everyone else’s vacation schedules.

The problem is that a lot of the techniques expats use to relieve stress aren’t available here. I can’t just go for a long walk for myself, hang out with friends, hit my favorite bookstore or coffee shop… I spend a lot of time alone, which I enjoy, but my options for company are extremely limited. It’s funny – in DC I was quite the social butterfly, but lately I’ve been turning down my limited social events to stay in and watch movies on my laptop or work. I have books that I’d like to read, but they just sit on my shelf and stare at me reproachfully.

I almost canceled my plans with Dave today, but having recognized the burnout signs, I forced myself to go out and hang out with him. I had a great time with him and it helped a lot to just talk to someone about life without focusing too much on work. I need to find a stress reliever that is available here, or I’m never going to make until April. I could get a gym membership (yuck) or I can try harder to meet people. Problem is a lot of the expats around my age are into the party scene and I don’t want to get drawn into it. Aside from being culturally inappropriate it would be easy to let alcohol become my stress reliever, which is even less healthy than being burnt out. So, if you have any suggestions, fill me in…

1 comment:

qaiser kakakhel said...

TV Seasons! No kidding... I have watched 7 seasons of West Wing, 3 of Nip/Tuck, 5 of 24, 2 of Grey's Anatomy, one of Rome... and others!

You think its sick? well, am alive. Cuz next option is suicide! Now, you don't want to do that; its really unhealthily, so much so, that it will leave no health at all!