This week the magic starts at the European Shiatsu Congress (ESC) in Vienna. Mike Mandl (1969) organizes the conference and is also a shiatsu therapist. At the ESC he offers workshops on his specialty: burn out. I asked Mike 5 questions about this personal, spiritual and social challenge.
It is said that the uprise of burn out is on its return. Is that also you experience?
“Is it? So our work brings up results already 😉 It’s very hard to grasp burn out, as there’s no official definition of what burn out really is. If we talk about burn out, do we mean the final point of a very long process, where people do have many problems, mental, emotional and physical? Because they do not have enough resources to face the everyday challenge of their jobs or their social life and have a serious break down. Or do we talk about the whole process?”
“25% of all working people feel stress, feel tired, feel exhausted ”
“If we talk about the process, all statistics agree, that there is an increasing number of overworked people. The sickness absence rate due to psychological problems is going up rapidly. Some statistics say, that almost every second person does not find the right balance between personal resources and jobwise demands. As a result, 25% of all working people feel stress, feel tired, feel exhausted. Call it burn out or not, these problems are getting more and more…”
How big is the problem? I have heard that burn out also can also happen to young people (in their 20’s), while mostly we saw middle aged people with burn out.
“It starts even earlier. In the International Classification of Diseases, burn out is listed as a problem related to life-management difficulty. And what I see is, that managing your life becomes more and more difficult, especially for young people.
“We live in an age, where everything speeds up. Everything has to be faster. At the same time, you have millions of possibilities. So you have to make more decisions as well. More speed, more decisions… and less security and stability concerning the future. That mixture causes stress, even for young people. I have seen teenagers with burn out symptoms. Many teenagers. And I think, this is why Shiatsu is such a great tool for burn out.”
“You help people to get more in contact with themselves, you help them to get more clarity, more insight, more understanding. Just looking at the symptoms is no burn out treatment at all. Dr. Christina Maslach, one of the leading persons in burn out research, brought up a very nice definition of burn out: that burn out is the result of the discrepancy of what we are as a person and what we have to do in our life. Shiatsu is all about to support you to find out, what you are as a person. And Shiatsu can treat most of the burn out symptoms very effective, like sleeping disorders, stress related tension, headache..”
What is the change for recovery of a burn out when treated with shiatsu?
“Burn out is a very complex phenomenon. Some people need up to two or three years to recover from a severe burn out break down. So you have to work on all levels and Shiatsu can contribute a lot to this process. Everyone can recover from a burn out.”
“Shiatsu can treat most of the burn out symptoms very effective”
“But sometimes you have to change your whole life to do so. So you need the willingness of the client too. My personal experience is, that Shiatsu is much more effective in the burn out prevention. You should extinguish the fire before it is to big. Or before it even starts.”
Are there specific meridians involved in a burn out shiatsu-treatment?
“As the circumstances, why someone navigates into a burn out, are very individual, there is no standard treatment or approach to burn out. But you can find similar energetic patterns in the burn out process. Herbert Freudenberger, one of the first persons to actually see the burn out problem, developed a 12 stages model of the burn out process, which is widely used within the burn out science.”
“We found out, that this model goes along very well with some of our key strategies concerning burn out. You can split the 12 stages in 4 quarters and each quarter has a specific core theme. Quarter one is often characterized by over engagement. Quarter two by stagnation, quarter three by frustration and quarter four by depression and exhaustion. Apart from the individual treatment, based on the Shiatsu diagnosis, we try to find out, which quarter the person is in at the moment. And you have to take care of the according energetic pattern.”
“In quarter one we work mostly with the Tai Yang/Shao Yin division (Bladder, Small Intestine, Kidney, Heart), as you have to do with stress management. In quarter two, the Shao Yang/Yue Yin division is very relevant, because stagnation always means, you have to deal with the energy of the Wood Element. In quarter three the Lung Meridian becomes more important; the Po quality of the Metal element.”
“You rarely see people in quarter four in your practice, as they are very exhausted, vulnerable and frightened, sometimes they are not able to leave their house. If you work with these kind of clients, the Tai Yin/Yang Ming division is best, to build up energy via Earth and Metal Element. Here it is better to do short treatments, not longer than 30 minutes, therefore two or three times a week. They are very weak and not really able to ‘digest’ a lot of energy…”
Can you give some tips for preventing a burn out?
“I think, every time has it’s illness. And we can learn something from every illness. We learned from the Pest to raise our hygienic standards. We learned from Aids to be more sensitive with our sexual behavior. And we can learn something from burn out. For me, burn out is a great topic, almost spiritual.”
3 big life questions
“According to developmental psychologist Howard Gardner the only real burn out prevention is to be very clear with three questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I really want?
- How can I get what I really want in an inspiring and efficient way?
For me, these questions are also the ‘big life questions’ everyone should ask himself. And take them serious. So if we learn this, we will not drawn under the burn out wave, we will ride to the shore and step into a new future.”