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Jesús de la source Arias, Full Professor and director of Master's Degree in General Health Psychology. University of Navarra.
Vacations and how to avoid stress upon returning home
The long-awaited Easter vacations are approaching. In addition to the well-deserved rest and enjoyment of family, friends and leisure, it is a good time to re-evaluate our daily activity. The re-assessment is an action of confrontation of the problems that we use the people to give answer to the situations of stress in our lives. Basically, it consists of ordering the different activities, analyzing their pros and cons, as well as the cost staff and the evaluation of the effort they require. When this subject of coping strategies is not used periodically, we run the risk of being in situations of prolonged stress, which - most probably - will lead to an episode of burnout or exhaustion, typical of Western societies, competitive and developed, whose indicators are exhaustion and feelings of lack of efficiency and cynicism. The factors that explain the appearance and consolidation of this psychological state can be of an external and internal nature, in combination. To explain this phenomenon, let us imagine that we are driving along a road.
External factors (subject ) refer to the characteristics of the context in a broad sense (work, family, social, etc.) in which the person lives. A well-marked road would be an example of a regulatory work context. This clearly establishes the informative and organizational elements so that travelers can self-regulate and exercise control over their activity on the road. An example of this would be that the periods, activities and achievement of goals are objectively established and in the public domain. This promotes, in general, the perception of control and commitment to the organization.
If we travel on an unmarked road, we would be in an a-regulatory work context, in which there is no clear information about the rules, promotion criteria or criteria for achieving goals. And this hinders satisfaction and commitment to the organization. In the worst case, when these criteria are applied selectively and arbitrarily, without explicit knowledge of the hired staff , we would be facing a de-regulatory context; that is to say, a context that does not financial aid to the self-regulation of people. Also, when organizational demands are excessive and unpredictable in time, because they appear suddenly, or there is no possibility of facing them in a planned way by exercising control over them, emotional and behavioral dysregulation is promoted, with the consequent appearance of stress and burnout.
Internal factors refer to personal factors or characteristics of the way of organizing one's own life and daily activities. We understand that a person has a regulating style (good driver) when he/she makes decisions and regulates his/her daily actions, that is to say, plans, controls and evaluates in a habitual way the suitability and effects of the same, knowing how to say no when he/she observes that he/she is exceeding his/her possibilities of giving answers or, simply, or does not wish to assume more tasks. An a-regulatory style staff is characterized by not carrying out these actions and remaining at the expense of the external regulation of the environment (road), whether good or harmful. The de-regulatory style (bad driver) is typical of people who, due to their own individual characteristics and the way they face problems, make erroneous decisions and expose themselves to environmental demands to which they cannot -objectively- give an answer, because they exceed their possibilities of personal resources, time and action. In this case, the probability of a burnout episode is the highest.
The conclusion is clear: everyone - organizations and individuals - should apply these criteria to the analysis of their status. The best combination would be that of regulating contexts with self-regulating people, which can generate feelings of satisfaction, control and well-being staff and work. The worst combination is that of dys-regulatory contexts with dys-regulated people, which will lead to feelings of stress, lack of control, burnout, lack of commitment and desire for withdrawal from the organization. Therefore, the partial analysis of the stress phenomenon - focused exclusively on the variables of the person or the organization - seems to be unsustainable, based on the current knowledge of scientific, transactional and interactive psychological models of stress.
For organizations and individuals to re-evaluate their regulatory style is a recommended holiday activity that would help to take a new perspective, as well as to come back from the vacations with renewed energy and new goals for improvement. And let's not only think about our work, but also about our family and the sustainability of our way of life. And if you find that you cannot solve the problem, ask financial aid for professional help from a psychologist.