When this magazine was founded, we posted about it on a social platform dedicated to creative women. Right away different people reacted and advised us to contact Mascha Mooy from Bye Bye Burnout. The name of the company made us curious but also the enthusiasm that those people had about this woman and what she was doing. This was in 2017, we are now in 2018 and our guess is that there are only a few people in The Netherlands who haven’t heard about Mascha. Mascha is THE specialist when you talk about burnout and enterprises. With courage, creativity and determination she built her own enterprise to help not only employees who are suffering from a burnout but also, and there comes the genius idea, employers. You might think, ok great, but how does she work? Well, Mascha created her own method that includes different kinds of perspective. Often with burnout, you go to the doctor, that doctor sends you to a psychologist and there you are for months, once or twice a week, you talk for 30 minutes and the rest of the week, you try to manage. At Bye Bye Burnout, every angle of a burnout is taken care of, there is a coherent group of different coaches, each specialised in a very specific domain (health, depression, fooding, management, HR, you name it…) that helps employees and employers to go through this tough situation or, even better to prevent it.
It is our pleasure and honour to feature Mascha in this third issue of Good Enough Darling. Despite a very busy agenda, she agreed very kindly to answer our questions.
-What is the common reason why people get a burnout?
They forgot about what sets them on fire. They just go to work and do what they have to do.
-Lots of doctors and psychologists say that it takes about the same amount of time to recover from a burnout as it has taken to grow. Considering this, how can you guarantee that within 100 days, people will be back on track and able to reintegrate workflow?
I don’t guarantee anybody that. My coaches help people in a good way to learn what they should do and don’t do in case of a burnout to recover.
-Do you think it is possible to recover 100% ( no memory loss, velocity in speech, no extra sensibility to noises etc..) to a severe burnout?
No, burnout is something that will hunt you. Balance is an issue for life unfortunately…
-There are more and more light and attention on burnout, do you think it is a XXIe century phenomenon? Or Burnout has always existed but it was not named and treated correctly?
No, it’s something from the last 20 years or so. Mostly the pressure we are in and we don’t want to miss out (younger generation)
-Via your enterprise Bye Bye Burnout, you help employees and employers to prevent and/or to recover from a burn-out. Do you notice in enterprises where you go a change in their perception of what a burn-out is?
Yes absolutely! They are surprised about the costs of one burn-out and the way we help employees. We overdeliver and underpromise!
-In enterprises, where do you generally find the most resilience?
Management because “we have a vitality course so no burn-outs here…”
-With your “Bye Bye Burnout bedrijfs APK” you offer the possibility to evaluate work related stress. Employees have to fill in a questionary. It takes courage and humility to admit that you are dealing with stress and that it affects you. How do you gain the trust of employees that they feel free enough to put on paper how they feel at work?
The results are private and we only discuss them when we ask their permission!
-You work now with SMEs enterprises. Why that choice? It’s a better fit for me as a person. I don’t match with corporate. I am more your down to earth big mouth kinda girl and I DON’T have any patience!!! What is your next step?
More tv and media “optredens” and I would really like to help more Dutch celebrities. They are under a lot of pressure but nobody can know that burn-out is an issue. We are your perfect match! Despite me being your no-nonsens girl ��
-You’ve been through a burnout yourself. What helped you to get out of it?
1000 piece puzzles and watch Married with Children or other easypeasy fun tv shows. Walk every day for ten minutes and get a steady lifestyle. And of course: sleep sleep sleep!!
-What did you learn from yourself thanks to your burnout?
That I am not superwoman and that I have to do what sets my heart on fire!
-You have your own enterprise, you are very active on (social)media and you also have a private life. How do you manage to combine everything?
Honestly, it’s difficult and one of the sacrifices is not having children. We also travel a lot and go scubadiving so that helps. But it’s a stressfull life and I don’t always practice what I preach but it makes me a normal person. Nobody’s perfect!
My motto: Get in line stay in line
-Do you have a motto?
More issues then Vogue!
photo credits @ByeByeBurnout
-In our previous issue, Leyla shared a bit of her experience and tips about burn-out. In this issue, we will learn more about her personal story.
As you read it in Issue 1, Leyla comes from Iran and lives in The Netherlands for 28 years. For many years, too many years, she suffered from a burn-out without even knowing that she had one. This lead us to think about the (health)system in The Netherlands but also how much your environment plays a role in your well-being. Having living in two different countries, Leyla shares her thoughts about the differences between life in Iran and in The Netherlands and why she thinks so much people have a burn-out in The Netherlands. Her view is refreshing, out of the box and deserves that you take the time to read it.
At the age of 19, Leyla started to feel tired and when she was 24 her body became really sick. That was the ultimate signal that something was going on and that it was bad.
“ I was working full-time at a bank and next to that I was really busy with a lot of things like music and art classes but the problem was not my busy agenda. I was sharing an apartment with a girl who had drinking issues and that was the main problem because I could never rest or be in a peaceful environment. At some point I started to feel exhausted and depressed but I didn’t know I had a burn-out because I’ve never heard about it. So I quit my job at the bank. Since I quit my job at the bank I haven’t been able to come back to a regular work because after one day of work, voluntary work I’m completely exhausted. This is not a life, this is surviving.
Anyway, at some point, I heard about burn-out via friends and it was clear to me that it was what I had. The therapy started ten years later, in between I did a lot of meditation and spiritual classes but it was not helpful because to heal you need to know the source of your problem and I did not know it. It is important that you, and your therapist, know and understand what is happening in your body and mind. In my case it is complicated because I have PTSS and burn-out. Hopefully now, after 28 years in this country I’m going to be treated over a month for my PTSS.
-What you are telling us says a lot about your therapist and about the system. Naming the issue is already a sort of recognition and a beginning to a heal process, don’t you think?
“Indeed, it feels like they just don’t care or care only about the money. I had to ask my therapist for a treatment and confront her with my symptoms, then she admitted that I have post traumatic stress syndrome. But if this is not treated then there is no need to try to heal from my burn-out because they go together. Now finally, I have the feeling that things are going to move forward.”
-It’s also my own experience that therapists, psychologist in my case, do not look at the entire picture. I developed interest for photography during my burn-out but my psychologist did not want to hear about it, she had one goal and it was me back at work and make money. The possibility to stop working as a teacher and start from scratch as a photographer was just not in the picture for her. Photography was acceptable but only as a hobby. But life is more than just making money and fit to a well structured system, right?
“Absolutely, there are those rules and they don’t allow you to be yourself. I call it, “fake freedom”. There are limited possibilities for people who do not have a 9 to 5 mentality. I do believe that creativity is the best thing for people with a burn-out. Three years ago I started photography and it helps me so much to feel better and to find a place in my daily life. And they call it a hobby? No, it’s not a hobby, it’s my vision, it’s my way of living. There are places here in Amsterdam where I could not walk because of my past traumas but now, with my camera I can go there.”
-As an Iranian, what do you think of the system here in The Netherlands?
“ Here it is slow, everything is so slow and it makes you passive. If you have a lot of energy and ambition, you have a problem in The Netherlands. People here think they are free because they can be naked or smoke joints but being free in your daily life and go higher in the society is an other story. There is a roof and everybody has to stay under it. This plays a role in burn-out, I think.
-How about Iran? Are the amount of people with burn-out also increasing?
“There are no burn-out in Iran. Of course, there are people who are tired but it’s different. Here in The Netherlands, there are really a lot of people either with a burn-out or depressed. I’ve been a teacher’s assistant and at some point all the teachers from that school had a burn-out.
-How do you explain it?
“When it comes to freedom, Iran is one of the worst country in the world. You don’t have the freedom to be yourself but you do have an other kind of freedom that you don’t have here. You can do things to get a better life, here you can’t. In The Netherlands, you have to pay for everything. I understand that this way you pay for people who do not have a job or a house and it is a good thing but, when you take risks out of life, you give a very boring life to people.You have a house, you have a job, everything is arranged but life is much more than that. You have to go through things through risks. Of course here, you can take some risks but you stay in a box; you have freedom in a box and that’s why, I guess, people get so tired.
-Maybe there is more solidarity between people in Iran’s society
“Absolutely. Here you are on your own. If you need help, people tell you to fix your problem yourself. When I was working at a primary school, teachers told children to fix their issues themselves. I always thought that those kids will probably have a burn-out later because they have to do everything on their own at such a young age. In Iran, the community is much more stronger, we help each other.
I think the quality of life does not depend on insurance, money or house. When I do street photography, I see very monotonic faces. You have to wait an entire day to see something happening. I was in Iran a few months ago and it was different. People in the streets were having more expressions on their face.
Thank you so much Leyla for sharing your experience and thoughts. Photographs that illustrate this article are all made by Lela, you can see more of her moving and beautiful work on her Instagram account.
Who are you? What do you do?
-I am a physical therapist, a lot of people come to me with physical problems. Considering that the connection between emotion, brain and body is very well known by now, I tend to address emotional factors as well in the way I treat people.
As a physiotherapist specialized in neurological issues what can you tell us about burnout?
-I think burnout itself is a reaction of your body to an overdose and overload of activities.
Burnout is within the body and the brain, it’s not primarily an emotional pathology. Researchers have found out that there is a lack of balance in your hormonal levels in your body and brain. When you have a lack of balance for a very long time, your brain is in a stress mode and sends signals to your body via those special hormones (cortisol and adrenaline). When you decide to ignore those signals there is a moment your body decides to protect you and it shuts you down. When you are in that state, in a severe burn-out, you don’t have energy at all. There is a total imbalance in all recover functions and your body does not have the ability to recover on its own.
How does it start and how does it evolve?
-We can consider that there are three phases in which you can develop a Burnout.
Phase 1, most of the time there are signals within your body like neck or arm pain. You feel a bit tired and you start to pull off sport and/or social events because you are too busy. Many times there is an imbalance between activities and rest during your weeks.
Phase 2, you start to understand that something is off. You lack energy on a structural basis and you become more and more often sick. You can be aware of stress in your body and mind. You still have the energy to go to work but your mind says ‘I don’t want to do anything’. This phase is very long and you can really abuse your body and your mind for a very long time, but when the shifting point to phase 3 is coming it’s really severe.
Phase 3, there is a total neuro hormonal imbalance and your body all of a sudden shuts down and you are done.
Do you have practical tips/ exercises to do when you are dealing with something like that?
-When you are in a severe burnout, you need to go way low with all your activities to distress your body. When it’s distressed you can slowly start with building up your activities.
When you are in “phase 2”, it is still reversible. My tips for people in this phase are to look at your sleep cycle, your daily routine and weekly planning because there is definitely something wrong with at least one of those three things. Very important as well is to get back at what you like and have fun with, if possible on a daily basis. It trains your brain and we know now that a positive mindset can help you in a burn-out situation.
When in “phase 3”, start with a small amount of movement, it helps the brain. You do this for a very small amount of time and maybe few times a day like five minutes and you slowly build this up. Addressing that part helps your mind to get rid of stressors, you’ll feel a bit brighter and it gives you back a bit energy.
Also, you should go do things you like because it will give you energy but when you overdo it, it will give you burnout again. It’s a question of balance, don’t plan three events in one day. Start with one thing, when you see that it works and gives you energy you can do it more often. Stick at one thing and see if it works for you. When it’s working you can address an other thing and then later an other thing. As a physical therapist we can not do a lot in “phase 3” but a good coach can, so get a good coach. It is very important that you understand that it’s going to take a lot of time. It might need just as much time to get out of it as it took to come to phase 3.
Can you completely heal from a severe burnout?
-You can overcome it. You have a burnout but you are not your burnout; your burnout is not your identity. So you have to know who you are, what is your identity and use your talents and gifts that make you unique. You have to take control of your life again and build it up from zero to a normal state of being again. Your body has suffered damage and has to recover from it but I think it is possible. Look at researches and programs made by Dr. Caroline Leaf, an American cognitive neuroscientist. She has built up a program that helps to retrain the brain, it shows that brain cells could recover and all through our lives can develop and grow. So I think that with such a program you can learn how to retrain your brain, also with things like concentration, speech. You can really do a lot with your brain!
When someone has been through this, what are the chances that he or she will go through it again?
-In our country, we want people to go back to work as soon as possible. In many occasions that would be the right case (phase 1 & 2). Nevertheless when we don’t address why the overload was there (mindset, sleep problem, problem at work…), most patients fall back right in. Things can go right for maybe half a year and then they get back in problems again. When nothing changes, it goes wrong. You really have to understand how you got in and how you got out.
Aside your activity as physiotherapist, you are also a coach. It’s a fact that most people who went through a burn-out change from job/activity after they recovered. As a coach what are your advises to someone who is struggling to find his/her path?
-First, when it comes to burnout, get a hold of a good balance between activities and enough rest. Secondly, you have to get back to your core, to your real identity and your real destiny. A lot of people think that they fulfill their destiny when they are successful in a certain area of their life but I don’t think that is destiny. They mix up their identity and ‘feeling successful’ with results of what they do instead of who they are or have become. We are wired to love, we are wired for good relationships, we are wired to be positive thinkers and that is destiny. I believe you can fulfill your destiny in what ever you do because of your mindset and because you focus on others, have positive talks and you let your talents flourish within your work or beside your work.
So, you should ask yourself some questions like, what do you believe about yourself? What is your identity? Who are you supposed to be? Do you act insecure and why?
Eliminate the lies, write it down and understand that your destiny is not to be successful in one single area in your life or just by what you do. Start to look at other areas in your life like your relationships, your environment and what you need within those things and who you are. And don’t forget that all jobs are worthy if you understand your identity and destiny because then you will do your job with love.