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Stress, Boundaries, and Burnout. M. Kirk Dougher May 8 th , 2009 Utah Association on Higher Education and Disability . Problems you Face. What are most difficult students for you to deal with? Why are those students especially difficult?. Problems.

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Stress, Boundaries, and Burnout

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stress boundaries and burnout

Stress, Boundaries, and Burnout

M. Kirk Dougher

May 8th, 2009

Utah Association on Higher Education and Disability

problems you face
Problems you Face
  • What are most difficult students for you to deal with?
  • Why are those students especially difficult?
  • How do you deal with a student who not being open about they are thinking or the struggles that they are facing in making decisions?
  • How do you deal with a student who seems to always feel they are the victim?
  • How do you deal with students at the end of the day when you have less energy?
why do you do it
Why do you do it?
  • Why would you want to help?
  • What is in it for you?






Intellectual Challenge

  • Can those needs be met while serving others?
  • Definition
    • feeling of deep empathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
    • compati "to feel pity," from com- "together" + pati "to suffer”
  • How can this lead to problems?
sympathy and empathy
Sympathy and Empathy
  • Sympathy focuses on a person's bad news or feelings, feeling sorry for the person suffering the bad news/feelings, and whether the sympathizer agrees with any of the person's beliefs, opinions, or goals.
  • Empathy focuses on experiencing a person's bad and good news or feelings and understanding the bad or good news/feelings and feeling what they feel in response to the what the other person feels.
  • Examples?
  • Distress: Stress due to an excess of adaptive demands placed upon us.
  • Eustress: The optimal amount of stress which helps promote health, growth, and performance.
  • Stress is the difference between they way things are and the way we think they SHOULD (not could) be.
  • Stress is internal
    • “My finals are stressing me out.”
  • Stress is about a future with which we have no control
    • If… Then…
    • Van….
  • Stress / Faith
  • Boundaries are parameters in which the relationship between counselor and student occurs. In addition to safety, boundaries make relationships professional, give the student and counselor a legitimate sense of control in the relationship and result in the student getting the maximum benefit from the interaction. They are the line between the self of the counselor and that of the student.
  • What are the areas that you struggle with keeping boundaries?
  • Why are these so difficulty?
  • Typically people report that it is hard because they just want to help.
  • Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
  • It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands.
  • As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
  • You don’t have any good days.
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.
stress and burnout
Stress and Burnout


  • Characterized by over engagement
  • Emotions are over reactive
  • Produces urgency and hyperactivity
  • Loss of energy
  • Leads to anxiety disorders
  • Primary damage is physical
  • May kill you prematurely
  • Burnout
  • Characterized by disengagement
  • Emotions are blunted
  • Produces helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of motivation
  • Leads to detachment and depression
  • Primary damage is emotional
  • May make life seem not worth living
alternative solutions
Alternative Solutions
  • A man died willing his 17 Cows to 3 Sons. To One 1/2, 1/3, 1/9. How did the bishop solve the problem without killing a cow?
alternative solutions1
Alternative Solutions
  • It seems it needs be: 8 ½ Cows, 5 2/3 Cows, 1 8/9 Cow
alternative solutions2
Alternative Solutions
  • It seems it needs be: 8 1/2, 5 2/3, 1 8/9.
  • Actually, the Bishop Added 1 Cow allowing 18 / 2 = 9

18 / 3 = 6 and

18 / 9 = 2.

  • The Bishop took his cow and went home.
self care
  • Physical
  • Practical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
reducing stress physical
Reducing Stress: Physical
  • Exercise your body in some way each day
    • 3xWeek, 20 Minutes 
  • Go to bed about the same time and get up at the same time most days
  • Eat thoughtfully 
reducing stress practical
Reducing Stress: Practical
  • Know what your limits are and learn to say no.
slow down
Slow Down
  • Plan on arriving at appointments a few minutes early. 
  • Speak, eat, drive, and move at a more relaxed pace.
  • Deal with the cause of the stress. If tension comes from a relationship, work on it. If it comes from an unfinished task, do something toward finishing it.
reducing stress emotional
Reducing Stress: Emotional
  • Play
    • You need time for you.
    • You will be a better woman to all around you by TAKING TIME FOR YOU.
    • Do Something You Like to Do.
    • If you don’t have something, find something
reducing stress emotional1
Reducing Stress: Emotional
  • Laughter
    • Stimulates the Immune System
    • Lowers Serum Cortisol (Hormone Secreted by a Stressed Adrenal Gland)
    • Increases Lymphocytes Turning on the Immune System
    • Releases Endorphins
    • And, it is kinda fun
psychological the doing
Psychological: The Doing
  • Seek enjoyment in the doing of things rather than focusing so much on the end result. (Process vs Outcome)
  • Plan for the future instead of worrying about it. Learn from the past instead of feeling guilty about it. (Precious Present)
  • Hope for rather than expect events to happen a certain way.
psychological mindfulness
Psychological: Mindfulness
  • Meditation
    • Guided Imagery
  • Acceptance (Kabat-Zinn)
  • Consider how dealing with your current stress could be beneficial for you in the future.
  • “Travelling Mercies” by Ann Lamott.  At the end she is reflecting on an experience hiking in marshy land, which was filled with struggle.  She was with a great friend.
  • “This is the most profound spiritual truth I know: that even when we’re most sure that love can’t conquer all, it seems to anyway.  It goes down into the rat hole with us, in the guise of our friends, and there it swells and comforts.  It gives us second winds, third winds, hundredth winds. It struck me that I have spent so much time trying to pump my way into feeling the solace I used to feel in my parent’s arms.  But pumping always fails you in the end.  The truth is that your spirits don’t rise until you get way down.  Maybe it’s because this – the mud, the bottom – is where it all rises from.  Maybe without it, whatever rises would fly off or evaporate before you could even be with it for a moment.  But when someone enters that valley with you, that mud, it somehow saves you again.”

Kirk Dougher

Counseling and Career Center